November 12, 2009

3 Distinctions That Need To Be Drawn

People with little or no analytical abilities (e.g., account planners, CMOs, and, um, bloggers) often have a difficult time with facts. They frequently confuse things that sound the same but aren't.

Here are 3 items that the analytically challenged often are confused about.

1. Popularity As Evidence Of Effectiveness

When you read social media propaganda you often come up against remarkable statistics regarding the popularity of social media. Like there are more Facebook pages than stars in the Milky Way or more Twitterers than rats in the NYC subway system. Stuff like that.

This is given as evidence that using social media is ipso facto a good marketing idea. Of course, it proves no such thing.

One of the most popular communication channels in the world is the telephone. Yet it's a lousy marketing tool.

Popularity of a communications medium -- any medium -- is not necessarily an indication of its effectiveness as a marketing vehicle.

2. TV Viewing

We are often told that TV is dead. The proof is that the networks are struggling, prices are dropping, and ratings are down.

This is not proof that TV is dead. What is ailing is the old economic model of the TV business. TV viewing is actually at its highest point ever. The average American watched more TV in the past year than ever before in history.

The reason the TV business is in trouble is not that TV is dead. It's that there is too much supply -- too many channels. The reason ratings are down is that too many competitors are slicing up the pie. It's really quite a nice time for viewers. We have an enormous variety of options. And we are responding by watching more TV than ever.

3. Word Of Mouth

Social media maniacs often (patronizingly) explain to us pathetic fools that social media is more powerful than advertising because word of mouth carries far more weight than paid messages.

It is true, and always has been, that word of mouth is way more powerful than advertising. What is not true, however, is that social media is the same as word of mouth.

Word of mouth carries weight because it comes to us from someone we know and trust. Most product endorsements in social media environments come from people we do not know and trust. Too often it comes from interns paid by creepy social media practitioners to fabricate positive "buzz."

Consequently social media carries far less weight than word of much. And the more that social media hustlers get their greasy hands all over it, the quicker its already questionable credibility will deteriorate.

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