One thing about social media maniacs, they're very inventive.
Just as their nutty ideas are about to hit a brick wall, they seem always able to come up with new reasons for pissing away boatloads of time and money on social media marketing.
Before we get to the latest chapter, let's quickly review the first two stages of social media marketing delusion.
The first stage was the engagement stage. When the miracle of social media first started to enchant the titans of marketing, the rationale was that consumers (that means people) wanted to engage with brands and marketers. You see, we are all so in love with brands that we want to have relationships with them, and co-create, and...well, you've heard all this bullshit a thousand times.
Sadly, it turns out that there are very few people who are so devoid of a life that they want to spend time engaging with brands or marketers. In fact, a recent study showed that even among a brands fans only .7% - that's 7 in a thousand - ever engage with its posts on Facebook. The number is less than half that on Twitter. Which begs the philosophical question, what's half of nothing?
The second stage was the conversation stage. When it turned out that people becoming a fan of a brand had nothing to do with "engagement" and everything to do with hoping to get something for free, a new philosophical rationale for social media had to be created quick. Enter "the conversation." "The conversation" posited that consumers (that's right, people) were so enamored of their favorite brands that they would use social media to extol the brands virtues to others who would do likewise and this would create a tsunami of conversations and sales results that would make advertising obsolete and irrelevant.
Sadly, it also turned out that no one wanted to have a fucking conversation about brands. Don't believe me? Take a stroll over to your Facebook page. You'll find plenty of traditional paid ads, but "conversations about brands" turn out to be rather thin on the ground.
A few months ago, The New York Times put it nicely,
“A few years ago, (Facebook) was telling brands to increase the number of people following their pages. Now it says fans are largely irrelevant."Which leads us to what may turn out to be the newest era in social media fantasyland. I am calling it the catalyst stage. It goes something like this:
Social media isn't for consumers to engage with a brand, or to have conversations with or about a brand, instead it's for consumers to interact with and support each other through the brand. I'm afraid I'm not doing justice to this lunatic idea, so let's hear an expert describe it:
This video has a nasty habit of disappearing from the post. If it's not here, you can find it here.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm actually living on the same planet as these meatballs (ya know, people.)
Thanks to Sean O'Donnell for this video