In our world full of constant disruptions regarding the latest and greatest technology, the allure of each new advancement is a tempting diversion. Especially when we are faced with every ‘trusted expert’ in our newsfeed telling us how far behind we are if we aren’t implementing their favored application into our digital marketing strategy.

In the wise words of Flavor Flav, ‘Don’t believe the hype’!  Shiny object syndrome can be the Public Enemy of a successful digital marketing strategy.  (If you’re not familiar with this decades-old but ever-relevant rap lyric, stay the course and you’ll be rewarded at the end.)

Shiny object syndrome is a common affliction among digital marketers and it diverts attention and focus from proven tactics and critical business goals. In this blog we’ll dig into what qualifies as hype, when to follow the shiny object, and how to stay the course in a digital landscape filled with continual distractions. 

Identifying the Shiny Objects

Technology is advancing at an ever-accelerating pace. As a result, businesses must be agile to stay current and continuously adapt. Meanwhile, it is just as critical to distinguish between strategic adaptations that align with business goals, and succumbing to ‘shiny object syndrome’ simply to keep up. Here are some examples of common shiny objects that take us off target:

  • Social Media Platforms: Before jumping on the bandwagon with a new channel or trendy feature, evaluate its relevance to your audience and if it justifies the investment. If you have any doubts, let a competitor be an early adopter and take the risk while you observe and learn to do it even better from their attempt.
  • Content Formulas: As soon as you hear an expert say a video should be X minutes long, a guru is sneaking up on your other shoulder talking about the criticality of short form video. If you’ve seen success proven by data in an existing strategy, always A/B test a new model before making a complete shift.
  • SEO Best Practices: SEO is a long game. No matter the latest Google algorithm update, the tried and true tactics continue to deliver for our clients at (un)Common Logic. Much like the stock market, you don’t want to pivot your SEO strategy before it has time to yield results in hopes of higher rankings. Trust us, you don’t want to pay the tax on this hasty transaction.
  • Paid Media Automations: Whenever you access Google Ads or Meta Ads Manager, you see suggestions claiming to enhance your performance by adopting certain features. Often, these paid media automations involve trying new functionalities that the platforms are testing, which may ultimately come along with an increased cost per click (CPC). It’s vital to make sure these recommendations align with your strategy and do not detract from your brand messaging or campaign intent.
  • Chatbot Solutions: Have you ever desperately yelled at an IVR phone solution for a customer support human you know does not exist? Annoying, isn’t it? The rapid implementation of a chatbot is more likely to lead to customer misalignment and frustration than time savings and efficiency. Don’t jump into this type of solution without having a full infrastructure in place to support the gaps.
  • Influencer Marketing: Never rush into an influencer collaboration without confirming alignment of brand values, audience, and integrity. This may not only result in serious financial cost, but also your brand reputation.

These are just a handful of the FOMO-inducing themes that may cause digital marketers to lose sight of the goal. Now let’s talk about the business impact of letting our eye wander toward the shiny object instead of keeping it on the target.

The Hidden Costs of Shiny Object Distraction

Wasted Resources: Chasing new platforms and tools without effective evaluation can be costly and drain both human and financial resources. That human resource drain ripples into additional time lost as quite often training is needed each time a shiny object is introduced into your portfolio of solutions.

Brand Inconsistency: Making a FOMO-driven pivot can impact your brand. For example, if a business chases the promise of results on a social media channel that doesn’t align with their target audience, at best it may appear out of place. Worse, it can lead to audience confusion and weaken brand trust. If this extends to paid media in addition to organic efforts, it comes at a financial cost.

Data Fragmentation: Toggling several platforms without a clear strategy makes it difficult to accumulate statistically significant data and gather actionable insights from strong trends over time. This leads to a longer road to recovery once you’ve realized the impact the diversion from your initial digital marketing efforts had.

Ineffective Campaigns: Jumping from trend to trend increases the potential of poor execution on any given marketing campaign detracting from positive brand awareness, loss of potential leads, and wasted spend.

Frustration and Confusion: As a business leader, introducing this type of distraction into an organization can frustrate employees and stakeholders, impacting overall morale and direction. This negative ripple effect can also contribute to ineffective management of those marketing campaigns.

When to Reach for the Shiny Object

Now, this is not to say you should dismiss all the latest trends championed by your favorite digital marketing guru. In fact, being a smart early adopter can catapult you ahead of the competition and lead you more quickly to your objectives. The key is to base your decisions on data and ensure they orient to your strategic vision. Here are some questions you can ask to ensure you are conducting a thorough assessment and not being enticed onto the hype train.

  1. Have our current digital marketing efforts hit a plateau or started losing money?
  2. What are our marketing goals and how does this new technology support them?
  3. Who is our target audience and will this new choice help us connect with them better?
  4. Are there enough industry benchmarks and case studies to guide our research?
  5. What are the tangible and intangible costs associated with this decision?
  6. Is there a clear strategy and timeline for implementation, and what efforts might this disrupt?
  7. How might this impact our brand messaging and trust (consider both negative and positive impact)?
  8. Do we have the technological skills to take on this advancement and what are the training needs required?
  9. Will my business survive if this initiative fails or the technology is not what it is purported to be?
  10. What are the risks and what is our contingency plan should this not work as intended?

If you have answers to all of these questions, it may make sense to pivot.

gif of ross from friends holding a sofa and saying pivot

Staying The Strategic Course 

To combat Shiny Object Syndrome, you must first recognize it. If you feel the push and pull of a constantly changing marketing strategy, find yourself frequently abandoning and launching campaigns, or chasing the coolest, slickest, newest thing in digital marketing, you may have shiny object syndrome. 

While it may sound like we are about to pitch the latest pharmaceutical to cure this dreaded affliction, such a cure is not yet on the market. The best cure is a strategic plan. The kind of plan that makes us uncommon. We know there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for any client or industry.  Just because a technology is ‘on-trend’ does not mean it will create success for anyone and everyone who dabbles in it. How do we decide what we recommend to our clients whether it is to stay on track or diversify further? The first step is a process of discovery and goal setting. Here are some steps to take to make sure you stay the course. 

  1. Define your marketing goals:  Make sure you are clear in your marketing goals and how they serve the overall strategic vision of your business.
  2. Prioritize your strategies: Rank all marketing strategies in alignment with those goals and the potential impact they may have on results. 
  3. Develop a timeline and commit to projections: Once you’ve developed a comprehensive plan with timelines and responsibilities, you are ultimately accountable for its success. With stakeholder buy-in and accountability for results, it makes it much more difficult to succumb to shiny object syndrome without a proven reasoning.
  4. Stay informed, not overwhelmed: While it is critical to stay on top of industry trends, it’s important to find a focus here as well. Identify a few reliable sources and listening tools that will keep you informed without leading you astray.
  5. Measure effectiveness: Execute with excellence and make sure you are keeping up with data via tools like Google Analytics (GA4). Continuous performance measurement will allow you to track KPI goals and make the most informed decisions around staying the course or if it is time to explore new strategies. 

In conclusion, taming shiny object syndrome in digital marketing is not only possible but essential for sustaining growth and long term success. Staying true to your goals and strategic vision while making decisions founded in data is always our goal at (un)Common Logic and why our clients rely on us to support them on this path.

Contact us to learn more about how our customized approach to digital marketing can help you decipher solid strategies from shiny objects. 

And remember, “Don’t believe the hype”!

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype (Official Music Video)

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