A few months back I wrote that the foundations of social media marketing were crumbling (here and here.) Well, now the walls are caving in, too.
You know you're in trouble when the press and the pundits turn on you. The way this game works is that the chatterers first fall in love with your story -- they don't just report it, they amplify it. And then when reality rears its ugly head, like rats, they scramble for the exits.
You know the trouble is serious when they start referring to "the hype" as if they weren't the bozos who disseminated it.
That's exactly what's happening with social media.
Last week, a silly Gallup study (based on self-reported nonsense) and a study of Facebook engagement triggered a flood of anti-social media reporting in the press.
- The Wall Street Journal headlined its story "Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype"
- The San Francisco Chronicle went with "Tweets And Likes Don't Translate Into Buys"
- Avinash Kaushik, online marketing guru, wrote a blog post entitled "Social Media Advertising Does Not Influence Purchases"
- According to BusinessWeek, "Tweets, Likes, and Shares Don’t Make Us Buy Stuff, Americans Say"
- CNBC weighed in with... "Facebook Brand Engagement Plummets, Study Shows"
- And the website Marketing Land headlined a story..."For Major Brands 'Engagement Has Plummeted' On Facebook"
While the press is jumping ship on social media, there are still a few stalwarts who are heavily invested in the delusion of social media marketing. These people are paddling very hard to save the cause by trying to shoot holes in the Gallup study. They are on a fool's errand. It's true that the Gallup study is garbage, but this tactic won't resurrect the stinking carcass of social media marketing.
The social media industry has no one to blame but itself. They created and instigated the astounding hype about social media marketing and refused to rein in the zealots and maniacs in their midst whose immoderate and provocative rhetoric created an environment in which a backlash was inevitable.
The people I really feel sorry for in this whole ridiculous saga are the agencies with integrity who lost good accounts by being honest with clients. They tried to tell cement-head clients that social media was criminal hype. What did they get for their trouble? Fired.
Meanwhile the vacuous jargon monkeys who promised social media magic walked away with nice accounts.
The sad fact is that agencies still can't tell their clients the truth about social media for fear they'll be thought démodé.
Welcome to the golden age of bullshit.