If you have kids, or remember being a kid (I’m a very sad panda for whoever doesn’t), you’re well aware of the power of fads. You know, the latest and greatest gadget, toy or game your son or daughter (or, ah, you) absolutely must have, mainly because they really want it, but also because Billy from down the street already has it? Yeah, those fads.
Many moons ago, the school yards were filled with marbles; then it was pogs, followed quickly by Pokémon cards and, of couse, devil sticks. I remember having these things separately but also all at once, though the reality is each one likely had a really entertaining month or two and then ended up in a forgotten drawer next to the rest of the fads. At their peak, pogs were so interesting marbles didn’t even stand a chance.
Like a schoolyard at recess, the digital world is filled with trends, fads and every kind of shiny, fool’s-gold type object you can imagine.
This is a problem for both marketers and consumers.
Whether it’s an ad campaign and (usually) one of those endlessly scrolling landing pages that convinces you to buy a product you don’t want or need, or a marketing technique that fails to deliver on it’s too-good-to-be-true promise, it’s often difficult to avoid the pitfalls of the Internet.
There are, however, new technologies and trends that can have significant affect on both consumers and marketers, which means telling the difference between impactful mobile trends and fleeting fads is an important skill.
The Pokémon GO Barometer
If you have a smartphone (and I’m sure most of you reading this do), you’ve probably asked yourself, “Should I download Pokémon GO to see what all the fuss is about?”
Nah, I’m too old for that, you’ve told yourself. That’s another one of those fads, you think. Nostalgia? What’s that, you pretend to wonder as the memories threaten to burst from the corner of your mind you try to contain them to.
Download Pokémon GO; don’t download Pokémon GO – it doesn’t matter. Pokémon GO is the perfect example of how to tell the difference between impactful mobile trends and fleeting fads because it transcends whether or not you have an actual experience with it.
Whether you realize it, Pokémon GO is changing the future of local marketing. It is impacting how consumers around you are shopping, which in turn affects how local brands are marketing to consumers (a group you are part of, even if you’re not playing Pokémon GO).
Additionally, the technology behind Pokémon GO – augmented reality – has captured the minds of brands and marketers and opened up a whole new line of connection with consumers. Within the augmented reality world, consumers play a game; in the real world, those consumers enter brick-and-morter stores to achieve certain goals in their game. In a word, it’s genius.
As a game, the jury is still out as to whether Pokémon GO is a fad, but again, it doesn’t matter. The impact the game has made is permanent. On the other hand, the only thing pogs and marbles impacted after the fact is the bottom line of your family’s garage sale.
How to Fade the Fads
The big question remains: how do you tell the difference between an impactful mobile trend and a fad? Truthfully, there are no hard and fast rules. Even the definition of a “fad” is wishy-washy at best and often hotly debated.
The best way to think about impactful trends and fads is to ask yourself whether the game, tactic or strategy in question has crossed over into areas of your life where it may not belong. For example, the Pokémon GO conversation makes sense in schoolyards, but it’s everywhere else, too: in bars, on the news, in offices and at dinner tables around the world. Pokémon GO may not organically belong in these places, but there’s no doubt of its impact on each of them.
Chances are you will fall victim to a fad, and that’s okay. We’re all trying to make a difference for our brand or company and, at the end of the day, doing something – anything – to try to move the needle forward is better than sitting on your hands. Many fads are effective for short periods of time, they just don’t work as longterm staples.
For example, infographics have been called a fad before (albeit a multiple year fad). While infographics may very well be in the autumn of their lifespan, many brands and companies have achieved great success with infographic marketing (us included!).
A big part of fading fads is intuition about how a certain thing will affect people and society, but another component of it is simply ignoring the label. If something is working for you and your brand, who cares what other people call it?
Pogs were fun. Marbles were fun. Pokémon GO is fun and it’s changing the way brands think about mobile marketing. Fad or not, it’s easy to spot the difference between something that impacts the world around it. Nobody wants to take the fun out of marketing – or recess – but if you can find a few more ways to latch onto impactful trends, you just might notice an increase in the effectiveness of your campaigns.