What Does Your Social Billboard Say?

by Jay Deragon on 01/05/2009


A billboard is a large outdoor advertising structure (a billing board), typically found in high traffic areas such as alongside busy roads. Billboards present large advertisements to passing pedestrians and drivers. Typically showing large, ostensibly witty slogans, and distinctive visuals, billboards are highly visible in the top designated market areasIn 1964 the negative impact of the over-proliferation of signage was abundantly evident in Houston, Texas, and motivated Lady Bird Johnson to ask her husband to create a law. At the same time the outdoor advertising industry itself was becoming keenly aware that the existence of too many signs, some literally one in front of the other, was bad for business.

Currently, four states—Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards

Do Billboards Belong on the Conversational Highway?

The social web is a highway of conversations. Brands want their billboards on high traffic highways of relevant conversations. Consumers behavior is clearly showing a distaste for “old billboards thrown in the middle of their conversations.”. This is becoming more and more evident with the reduced click-through rates for what has been labeled as “social advertising”. The old advertising methods are being rejected and replaced by an older method that is more human and it’s called a conversation..

Marketers must learn that the best way to get consumer attention is to enable customers to brag about their experience with your brand. The relationships that drive the quality of experience are upstream. Every brand has a system of production, distribution, sales & marketing and customer service. Production is collaboration with suppliers and employees. Distribution is a relationship with channel partners. Sales & marketing is a relational process with markets and customer service is an after the sale relational experience. Everything a business does is relational.

doest-get-itWhile much is being discussed about “how” brands can effectively engage in conversations a more important yet complex discussion needs to focus on “how” brands could create exceptional customer experiences in which the customer would share with others. The quality of an organizations product or service is directly correlated to the quality of relations which produce the product/service experience with the end customer.

If management cannot foster healthy internal relations, than it is folly to expect healthy customer relations. The old game of slick marketing messages and entertaining ads do not reflect the true customer experience with the product or service. Running ads on blogs and social networks will not capture consumer attention. When a consumer wants to “shop” for something the process usually starts with a referral from a “friend” or a conversation with someone who has experienced your brand. The “friend”, given the reach of the social web, is likely to be an employee, supplier or existing customer.

The social web and all its transparency is not turning up the heat on marketing and advertising methods rather the heat is turning on management. Management may in fact include senior people within the marketing and advertising departments. However unless the organization has a progressive leader, old management methods of the past will only reinforce old marketing and advertising methods that simply will not work in the new economy.

The web presents a new “system” that is ever evolving and creating new dynamics and new rules to old games. The irony of the evolving “system” of the web is that it is largely influenced by the preferences and privileges of people having conversations about everything, everyone and the experiences with anything. The new markets are creating new rules to old games. The new rules are people centric and value driven. The Socialutions lie not within the system of technology rather of the relational system of “people and values”.

Get it? The conversational billboards are loud, bright, connected and extremely the people read them. What will or are the people saying about your business? Check the social billboards and you’ll find out.

One last thing.  Whether you have a corporate social media policy of not your employees are free to converse with anyone.


Mike April 18, 2010 at 11:02 am

nice site I like and I sure to visit, well done

Mark Harai January 5, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Very insightful post Jay… after all, this is “the relationship economy” : )

“If management cannot foster healthy internal relations, than it is folly to expect healthy customer relations.” Jay Deragon

I look forward to gaining insight from you 2009!



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