(Or Why Post-Truth Will Kill the Science of Marketing)
For so long, marketers fought against their portrayal as liars and doctors of spin and propaganda. Truth in advertising finally caught up with the shrewd sales talk and marketing experts soon became master story tellers instead, trading instead facts that shape perceptions about a product and/or a service.
And then came social media. And the measurability–and some say, manipulability–of data and analytics. Own the channels, dominate the content and rule the mindset; or so the game dictates. Soon enough, the same marketing strategies are used to “package” humans as salable products, for better or for worse.
Name it and the post-truth marketers have it: from infomercials and advertorials to mind-conditioning surveys, self-serving statistics and prefabricated poll results. In the digital mainstream, they run click farms, AutoLike communities, Troll centers and bots-infested virtual hubs. Others are much more sophisticated by building back-end engines that disabuse the way we behave online.
Unfortunately, Social Media became the New Atomic Bomb, and just as highly prized by global and local political overlords. It can trigger hatred, sow division, incite fear, and cause unimaginable danger when placed in the wrong hands. Big Data, after all, is power. Historical revisionism, intrusion to one’s privacy, WikiLeaks, fake sites and identities all pave the way for a new regime of psychological warfare that threatens to “outsmart” even the educational system and mainstream media.
Political animals play their game hardball, we all know that already. But should Marketers, Media Practitioners and Journalists, Educators, and the Civic Society allow themselves to play the same game and cause their own demise in the process? Marketers cease to be story tellers and content managers when they decide to join the Dark Side and peddle lies instead. Journalists lose their badge of honor when they no longer fight for The Truth. A very thin line separates Educators and the Civic Society from the Mainstream Government–when the system has taken them into its cesspool, they become part of the problem.
When Marketers, The Media, Educators and thee Civic Society succumb to the Post-Truth game, their profession defeats its raison d’etre—and the risk of selling out instead of bearing leverage for the reputation they have long earned and fought for disappears. Together, if they can no longer speak against the lies of the Big Bad Wolf, they reduce themselves into pet scratching sycophants, if not becoming the animals themselves.
And however they may try to fool everyone, you already know what the wise ones say about fooling all of the people all of the time. History eventually sides with The Truth, and the traitors of Facts forgotten as footnotes. Or made to pay the awful price for/besides being known as conniving political suck-ups.