By Rex Hammock, CEO

From its ho-hum reception by critics and moviegoers, I may be the only person you know who has seen the social media-themed film, The Circle. Despite excellent performances by Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, its dystopian plot lacks some key backstory elements that make the Dave Eggers novel on which it is based a far more compelling story. 

However, for those of us who toil each day in the fields of social media and marketing, the film is worth seeing to observe how today’s contemporary authors and filmmakers are interpreting what these early days of tweets, likes and follows could become in the near future. (“Nosedive,” a recent episode of the Netflix series, “Black Mirror,” is a shorter, more compelling example of this genre.)

These books and films question many foundational beliefs of the digital marketing era. They particularly challenge our notion that if we can collect and process more data about our customers, we can make our services and products more targeted and personal. Those of us who are digital marketers are inclined to believe that net-connected technology is the answer to any social ill, big or small.

However, these dystopian tales live in the land of unintended consequences. Their plotlines (like most science fiction) remind us that the compelling new ability to know everything possible about our customers may not be in the best interest of those customers or society at large.

They consistently ask us to consider: Just because we can do something, should we?

I’ll confess. I’m not going to stop advocating that you embrace the new, especially when I believe it serves customers in ways that make their lives and jobs easier, efficient and practical.

But I also believe that marketers are better at our jobs when we think as customers. When we do, we remember how queasy it can feel to be tracked and followed. We notice the hype. We realize the lack of help. When we are customers, we know the difference in being served and being stalked.

Bottom Line: Embrace technology, data and social media as a marketer, but don’t forget the lessons you learn as a customer.

Illustration: STX Entertainment and EuropaCorp

About Hammock Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.