It’s tempting to look at any new marketing trend as a cure-all. It’s just as tempting to completely give up on that trend when it doesn’t immediately live up to all of the hype.
Gartner created a model called the Hype Cycle to track any emerging technology as it goes from hero to zero and then ultimately somewhere in between. I first came across the Gartner Hype Cycle in 2008 while working at Method and thinking about how to talk about sustainability as a brand. There were a lot of me-too cleaning products suddenly claiming to be “eco-friendly” and we sensed disillusionment.
While “green cleaning” didn’t really classify as an emerging technology, we found it very useful to map the Hype Cycle and think about the shift from “Peak of Inflated Expectations” to “Trough of Disillusionment,” ultimately rising up a “Slope of Enlightenment” and maturing to a “Plateau of Productivity”. It helped us remember the long game and think about substance over catchy claims.
I think it’s useful to think about any marketing tactic or technology using this model too. Marketing continues to go through tremendous change and marketers will have to assess if and how to leverage every new trend that comes along.
It certainly feels like we’re in the “Trough of Disillusionment” with social media marketing. Even as social marketing budgets increase, businesses are struggling to tie social activities to business outcomes. Metrics are left unmeasured and ROI is frustratingly out of reach.
Gartner came out with an updated Digital Marketing Hype Cycle last summer and plotted Social Marketing technologies at the beginning of the trough.
As marketing continues to evolve and transform, I think we have to constantly keep the “Slope of Enlightenment” in mind. As much as we can, we have to continually look beyond the hype to the potential of how technologies may be used, not as a cure-all, but to help make the fundamentals stronger.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.