Social media has had some notable marketing successes. For example...
The Blair Witch Project taught us that you don't need tens of millions of dollars to promote a feature film.
From Zappos we learned that a large, successful retail brand can be built on Twitter alone.
Oreo demonstrated the power of real-time marketing.
And the Ice Bucket Challenge showed us how to motivate charitable giving in the age of social media.Except they didn't.
Despite the hundreds of Powerpoint presentations created to explain the "Five Lessons Of The Oreo Tweet" (like here, here, here) or "What You Should Learn From The Ice Bucket Challenge," (here, here, here, here, here, ad nauseam) the simple fact is that not one of these big successes has been reproduced by anyone else. In fact, it turns out that each of them was an anomaly that had very little, if anything, to teach us.
During their 15-minutes of fame, each of these super-hyped social media success stories was trotted out at every marketing conference and trumpeted to us as the "future" of something. And each has quickly receded into the past.
The social media industry loves nothing more than a miracle. And each miracle becomes the poster child for whatever hustle the promoters happen to be running that year.
We have become exceptional at convincing ourselves that every singularity is a trend and every one-off is a movement.
Although thousands of companies have tried to implement the "lessons" of Blair Witch, Zappos, Oreo, and Ice Bucket, nobody has even come close.
But the parade of Powerpoint propaganda never ends.