February 25, 2010

Conversations About Brands. Really? Where?

On Tuesday, in 3 Out Of 4 Don't Trust Their Friends we commented on a study out of Edelman that found that 75% of the people they polled don't have a high level of confidence in recommendations about businesses or products made by their friends or peers.

For people who don't read The Ad Contrarian, this finding may have come as a surprise. To Ad Contras, nothing new.

This finding calls into question the "conversation" philosophy that social media marketing is built on.

You can be pretty sure that social media hustlers (oops, experts) will soon be looking for ways to shoot holes in this finding. They've got too much invested in social media marketing to admit that much of it is a crock of shit.

A good post from a social media advocate can be found here* - Will Social Media Eat Itself. Unlike most social media proponents, the writer of this piece at least can think straight and write a coherent sentence. She doesn't write in cliches and jargon and she's not in denial about the facts, like most agencies will be. (You can bet agencies won't be showing the Edelman report to their clients any time soon. Too much money to be made in social media.)

Another intelligent post** from someone who is not quite so sanguine about social media marketing is called Social Media Is Terrible At Promoting Products. In it, the writer says something we've been saying for a long time, but not as cleverly...
"Social media is great at promoting social media experts but useless at promoting actual products and companies."
For those surprised by the Edelman findings, here's something from a TAC post from last year called The Emperor's New Podcast.
"...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."
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Apparently, there's at least one person who agrees with me...

* Thanks again to Elise for this
** Thanks to Jenn Winnem for this

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