July 24, 2014

Why Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

You've probably noticed that about 93% of all TV commercials are lousy.

And so are about the same percent of movies, TV shows, books, songs, and paintings.

If you think all this crappy stuff is around because people aren't trying very hard, you're wrong. The reason is actually quite simple: Producing good stuff is really, really hard. And there are very few people who can do it.

Nobody sets out to create a crappy TV spot or a crappy book or a crappy song. They just turn out that way.

Creative talent is a very rare and very precious commodity. Not everyone has it. As a matter of fact, hardly anyone has it.

That's why really good creative people -- whether singers, writers, actors, or even ad bozos -- often make a lot of money.

Fortunately, most of us don't think of ourselves as singers, writers, painters and actors. So the quantity of really shitty "art" is self-limiting. This is not the case, however, in social media.

Everyone thinks he's a capable social media creator. Believe it or not, there are actually more English language blogs in the world than there are English language native speakers.

If you're wondering why your blog, or your Facebook page, or your Twitter feed, or your "compelling" content, or your "viral" video is laying around like a dead lox, it's not hard to figure. In order to be interesting, social media requires creativity -- just like movies, TV shows, music, and writing.

Without creativity, nobody gives a shit. The world is full of dull opinions, almost-funny banter, and dreary monographs.

Your social media strategy doesn't suck because Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs can't reach people. It sucks because you're stuffing it with crap that no one is interested in.

Creativity is the ability to be interesting, funny, or different. It's easy to be interesting, funny or different at lunch. It's a thousand times more difficult to do it on a page.

Very few people are capable of this. If you want to have one of the rare social media endeavors that actually makes a difference, you better find yourself someone to execute it who is highly creative.

And, take my word for it, it ain't that social media guy with the Powerpoint.


Michael Haupt said...

Fabulous rant, and so true, Bob - thank you for calling out the emperors clothes. The 'content marketing' malarkey is another bandwagon people have jumped on and are producing content for content's sake - another reason why there is so much drivel online. Can't help wondering who will be the first to use social media to truly listen, rather than chest beat. And I'm not referring to 'brand monitoring' - I mean truly listening to conversations and offering help only when help is required - Marketing as a Service.

Tom said...

Love it.
The worst thing is that since social media is free and the content cheap, not body seems to care if it works, if it's good, or if people read it, so long as it's there and they are "doing social media"

royAB said...

Nail. Head. Hit. Hard... V.hard.

Timm said...

Brilliant Bob. I'm going to print this out (if I may) and pin it on my wall.

James Coakes said...

Of the 20% of people who can write properly about 20% can write well. We're down to 4% of the original sample. Of them about 20% can write something original and about 20% can write something original that other people want to read. I've lost track of where we are now but it's a very small number. Pareto's Law always works, well 80% of the time.

Adam said...

Reminds my of the "company blog" phenomenon. Do we have anything even remotely interesting to say? No, but it's "good for SEO". Now whip that poor Account Exec into churning out a post and make sure he puts all the "keywords" in. Shudder.

JasonFalls said...

I rarely agree with you on the topic of social media, but this is spot-on. I call it creating "holy smokes" content. Few people can do it. Even fewer can do it more than once. Well said, sir.

jmacofearth said...

LOVE IT. Thank you for voicing some reason in the pabulum of noise that's being broadcast and sold as art or business or whatever. It's crap.

Dan said...

Amen Bob! Preach on brutha... let's hope the congregation is really listening.

Kyle Rohde said...

Yep. There was an endless amount of crap on the web before we made it such a priority to do "content marketing" so now there's triple the amount of crap being posted and every good piece of content gets rehashed and requoted by 10 other crappy pieces of content. Just like when you try to find a music video on YouTube today and can't, for there's 50 renditions of some kid in his bedroom singing it, or a slideshow some kid made iMovie set to the song, or some fool trying to be the next Weird Al parodying it.

Douglas Karr said...

Billion dollar companies have been built with boobs in commercials while intelligent, meaningful strategies often sit idle. Welcome to Earth. We get what works.

Jeff Shubert said...

It not only sucks for lack of creativity. It sucks because there is no strategy. They not only lack creativity, but are generally mediocre as managers of companies and are in denial that they don't know what they don't know.

Steve Poppe said...

If people don't socialize it, it isn't social media. It's a cheap broadcast message. Steve at whatstheidea

Jonathan Rodgers said...

You're so right, Bob. Doing great stuff is hard. Very hard. Especially TV.

It's so much easier and far less painful to suck. And most of this generation of creatives do not like to feel pain, or unpleasantness. If they feel it creeping up, they hug their participation trophies a little tighter.

I've done (at least according to my peers) some of the 7% of spots that don't suck. A big reason was because my collaborators were all of the same mind: we worked in an environment of mutual accountability. Which is a fancy way of saying that if something sucked, or was sucking, we would address it (and each other) fix it, and hopefully make it great. (Being able to recognize that something sucked had a lot to do with it as well.)

It was about holding your collaborators, and yourself, accountable to standards that were very difficult to hit. Key word: holding. Which can be, well, sometimes unpleasant. (We were also, unlike this current generation of digital geniuses, avid students of what had come before. We didn't think that just because we thought of it, that it was great. And we knew most of what we thought of had been done before. And probably better. We tried to be genuinely original.)

An awful lot of hitting a high bar just comes down to having a thick skin. But in this day and age of the clueless kumbayah creative department, where playing nicey, nicey is prized above all, few people inside agencies have the balls to say "That's just not very good". (if they even know the difference.) So good work doesn't even go out the door to be shot.

If by chance good work does get out (where it can possibly become great) few creatives have the skills and the stones to see their vision through the production process. I can't count the number of times I almost came to blows on set with directors (with whom I'm still friends, btw) because I thought we just weren't nailing it. And I say "we" because we were all responsible. I've had many directors come to me on set and say, "This ain't working. Got better?" And we'd have about 5 minutes to get better. Was it painful? You bet. But we all thought it was far more painful to inflict shitty creative on an innocent public. (Not to mention our clients.)

Nicey, nicey collaboration by itself just doesn't make great work. Creatives of the world, start practicing face-to-face conversations, and grow a pair: it's the many dozens of moments within collaborations - moments that are sometimes unpleasant, or challenging, or frustrating - that can give birth to something that just maybe rises out of the muck.

timorr said...

It's a corollary to Gresham's Law: Bad money drives out the good. (Put adulterated coins out there and pretty soon there won't be any unadulterated coins left in circulation.)

Just because we all can create content doesn't mean we all should. "'Shut up,' he explained."

Tia Dobi said...

Yesterday I posted this on LinkedIn: New
news -->> You can't bore them into buying, reading, engaging,
learning, using, liking, adding, Tweeting, forwarding, favoring, paying
attention, giving a sh*t or anything else worthy you want from your
words. (I thought I was the only one until I met The Ad Contrarian just now.)

Dino Dogan said...

I hate to be contrarian :-p but the problem I'm seeing is not the lack of creativity. The problem I'm seeing is shitty content dominating the internet. I submit Buzzfeed, Mashable, WSJ, NYTimes, and the like, as exhibit A.

glenoverpar said...

Sorry to be picky but I'm not sure that the source you reference claims that 'there are actually more English language blogs in the world than there are English language native speakers.'

Now it wouldn't surprise me if there were ...... but before I start spouting it around as a 'fact', I'd be keen to ensure that it was!

Did you perhaps pick it up from another source?

Great admirer of the blog btw.