April 14, 2014

Hard Times For The Cult Of Social Media?

It could be that the social media zombies have had their day.

Frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Now, before the hate mail comes rolling in, let me state the obvious. There are some very capable, hard-working and talented people in the social media world.

But there is also a roiling cesspool of arrogant, insufferable charlatans who parlayed a few buzzwords into a career and with whom we have had to put up for the past five years. Seeing them crash and burn would not irk me one darn bit.

Why do I think they've had their day? A few reasons:

First is that hideous, moronic, infantile song video from Social Media World that has become an embarrassment to the marketing industry. If you've never experienced the insularity of cults, this will be a good primer.

There is very little else that is as effective at taking the piss out of a cult than mockery. Ironically, in this case, it is self-induced mockery.

Any sensible person who looks at this thing can only believe that these people are utterly and completely demented. No one in his/her right mind would hire these people to sweep the floor, no less develop "business strategies."

Second, is a personal experience I had recently at my talk in London.

Frankly, I was apprehensive before the talk. I knew I was going to say a lot of things that would not sit well with the digital crowd. When I saw a largely young audience file into the theater, I thought for sure I would be facing a somewhat hostile audience.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at both the reaction of the audience and the follow-up reaction to the talk when it was posted on YouTube. It seems that at least some people are ready to hear a different point of view.

Finally, there are the facts. It seems that every few weeks a new study pops up showing that social media's impact on product sales is somewhere between small and not-at-all.

Of course, the social media crowd (having learned failure management from the traditional advertising crowd) will throw a false goal at us and say the purpose is not sales, but branding (whatever the fuck that means.)

I doubt the "branding" bluff will work. I'm sure some CMOs with "sluggish cognitive tempo" will buy this bullshit, but most are under pressure these days to perform. That means sales, not brand babble.

I have a feeling the bloom is coming off the social media rose. From here on, it's going to take more than cult culture.


Mike Sainsbury said...

Suspect you might have had more push back in London if you had suggested sales was the only valid measure of successful advertising. 'Brand babble' quite loud in the UK - which is not to say your critique of all things 'social' is invalid!

Jason B said...

It's about time somebody publicly pointed out that the Emperor is naked. This obsession with 'social activation' has bent every ATL brief into this pointless quest for click-throughs and likes, instead of actual sales and brand collateral. Can we see digital media for what it actually is - very, very cheap, small space response ads. It's about time true Advertising thinkers fought back. These idiots stole our budgets and homogenised our clients brands. It's not cynicism - it's cutting through the bullshit - which is what great ad men and women have done for decades.

Martin said...

Wow, the size of that turd was impressive.

Jim Powell said...

Never giver up on reasoning.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

This again.

if you watch cable news at all, you know that, for the most part, the same news is being broadcast on every network. The only difference is the agenda that drives its presentation.

After a while, even an agenda with which you agree can become tiresome.

richsiegel said...

Is that song available on iTunes?

luisgdelafuente said...

I don´t think the author is against 'all things social', but just clearly pointing to the huge bubble that keeps growing around it.

I work with SMBs and for this people (most of the economy by the way) the only valid measure for marketing investment is called 'sales'.

Storewars News said...

read! Very informative. Did you know that? British American Tobacco and Philip
Morris sued in South. Full story here: http://bit.ly/1iQOyOJ

LisaB said...

I hope the tide is turning. My company, a $20 billion one is still mired in the CMO's obsessions with youth and social marketing. All the money and the energy is flowing in that direction we hear endlessly about Marketing driving sales and producing leads and yet can't find evidence of ONE true closeable lead provided to a sales force of over 2000. They've taken B2C babble and tried to apply it to complicated B2B sales with a long cycle and consultative selling. No advertizing, no name recognition, just "native online advertizing" and "conversations" and "content" and silly little fake web addresses.
And yes, sales are down. Course it is all Sales fault, they just aren't listening to the geniuses in Marketing enough.

LisaB said...

And there isn't a single decision maker in my industry under the age of 45.

Anders Bisgaard Madsen said...

Someone, can't remember who, suggested that most of this social brand talk bullshit is due to too many people afraid of actually talking directly to costumers with sales as the goal of the conversation. As a result you get a lot of brand building and almost nothing directly connected to the sale. Anyone can handle brand conversation chit chat, but actually working directly on sales is really hard work. And people can quickly recognize if your good at it or not.

Lisa Johnson said...

Think bigger picture ... think content, which includes social media, landing pages, email marketing, blog posts, videos, public relations and (gasp) face to face customer interactions. Some of it is old school (conferences & sales meetings and such) and some of it is newer. This really doesn't have to be us vs. them, take the best of the new, keep the best of the old and roll it in together. There are plenty of companies properly tracking ROI and tweaking their messages and platforms to improve company results. Stick with the curmudgeon vibe if you want to, but how about an open mind and looking for people doing the right things.

Karen Malloy said...

I was in the audience at what will be my last Social Media Marketing World conference. What bothers me about the song is that it minimized what we do as professionals. if Social Media Marketing World thinks our profession is about Klout, bacon, and Instagram they have no business being in this business.

Having Phil Mershon up there doing the White Boy Rap felt like all of those christian rock bands we had to sit through in youth group. We clapped politely but didn't believe them to be rockers for a second. And then we laughed at them when we went back to our cars to smoke dope and listen to Pearl Jam.

This stupid song was a reality check. It's time for the posers to go jump on a different band wagon and let the rest of us do our jobs.

bob hoffman said...