November 23, 2009

The Social Media Cesspool

It was such a lovely dream.

A transparent medium in which marketers and consumers were on an equal footing. Where consumer decisions would be driven not just by the propaganda that marketers paid the media to broadcast, but by the forthright opinions and experiences of other consumers.

And like most Utopians dreams, it is quickly becoming a nightmare.

Social media marketing is an incipient cesspool.

In traditional advertising, at least our motives are clear. We're out to sell you something, and you know it.

Social media marketing is different. To a growing extent, it's sneaky, deceitful and covert.

It seems like every company in America has a team of squids working furiously to pollute and manipulate the social media environment with crypto-marketing. These slimy creatures are busy...
  • leaving fraudulent reviews and comments
  • "monitoring" conversations and trying to insert their hidden agendas in ways we can't detect.
  • spamming us with dishonest Tweets from nonexistent people
Social media is becoming so compromised by manipulation, its marketing value is suspect before it even gains traction.

Last week in 3 Distinctions That Need To Be Drawn we said...
...the more that social media hustlers get their greasy hands all over it, the quicker its already questionable credibility will deteriorate.
Now social media may have hit a new low. On Saturday, The New York Times reported in a story called A Friend's Tweet Could Be An Ad  that ad agencies are now paying people to tweet ads to their friends and followers. The ads, of course, are disguised as tweets.
“We don’t want to create an army of spammers, and we are not trying to turn Facebook and Twitter into one giant spam network,” said (the founder of one of these agencies,) “All we are trying to do is get consumers to become marketers for us.”

A distinction without a difference.

Social media marketing is no longer just a vast repository of demented ideas (see Wendy's Realtime.) It is becoming a cesspool.

Dive in at your own risk.

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