You remember podcasting don't you?
It was the first of the over-hyped social media genres. Turned out to be just one more marketing thing that was going to change everything. Closely followed by Second Life and MySpace and Facebook.
Here's the thing about social media -- it's all just electronic pen pals. Have you ever thought of pen pals as a promising advertising medium? As a marketing opportunity?
Social media might be nice for a handful of "prom king" brands. But for the average floor wax or motor oil? For an insurance company or peanut butter? For cheese or socks? For TVs or toasters? Bagels or toothpaste? You gonna write your pen pals about that?
I'm a member of several online social communities and here's what we're about: we waste as much time as is legally permissible talking about the stupid shit we're doing. We're having conversations about sex, and booze, and sports, and politics, and, parties, and dinners, and music and did I mention sex?, and just about everything else you can imagine that's irresponsible and silly. However, the one thing I have absolutely never experienced in an online social environment is the one thing the social media marketing maniacs think we're doing -- having conversations about brands.
When it comes to product "conversations" the web is quickly becoming a cruel joke. It's being spammed by interested parties, jammed by morons, and laughed at by people who really know their stuff.
Does anyone with an ounce of knowledge about food take "peer-to-peer" restaurant reviews on the web seriously? Or hotel recommendations? Or car recommendations?
The trustworthy, knowledgeable online recommendations come from the pros on their sites, not the pathetic wankers on Twitter or Facebook or CitySearch.
If you want a peer recommendation, and you have a brain in your head, you'll go ask a real fucking person -- you remember them, right? -- not some fictitiously-named nitwitters.
Of course, from time to time there is a big social media success that everyone makes a fuss over and uses as an example. And for every big success there are ten thousand little failures you never hear about.
For most companies, social media is the biggest online non-starter since podcasting.
Attention Web Maniacs...
I have noticed an epidemic of low reading comprehension lately. Before you send me hysterical comments about how I hate the web, or I don't understand social media, let me just say this slowly... this post is not about the popularity of social media. It is about the wisdom of spending large sums of money to use it as an advertising/marketing medium. Everyone got that? Okay, now you can send me hysterical comments.