August 26, 2014

The Day The Conversation Died

I'm sorry to be the one who brings you the bad news, but I'm afraid I have to.

Social media -- the thing that killed everything -- is now itself officially dead.

That's right, according to a piece written by someone who modestly calls himself “The Millennial Marketing Guy” Social Media Marketing is Dead.

It died peacefully at home, after a long battle with nitwits. It is survived by its twin brother, Content.

As regular readers know, we here at The Ad Contrarian have spent a good deal of time on death watch -- helping you understand how Social Media killed everything that came before it: advertising, broadcasting, marketing, copywriting, television, and more.

And just when we thought the period of grieving was over, it is with a heavy heart that we have to report that Content has killed the thing that killed everything else.

By the way, if you are committed to non-violence I strongly suggest you don't read the article in question. It is likely to have the same effect on you that it had on me. I am currently in restraints in the back of a patrol car.

I'll give you just a little taste of the wisdom from this enlightening lump of literature. Here we go...
"What drives social media activation for Millennials; however, is content excellence."
What drives people to put semi-colons in the middle of sentences; however, is illiteracy.
"We are currently living in a 'Millennial-inspired Participation Economy' "
Not me. I'm living in a Vodka-inspired stupor.
"Which is most powerful: a like, share, retweet, favorite?" 
Gosh, they're all so powerful it's like asking who's stronger Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk or Captain America. Let's get real -- they ALL have super powers!
"Think of content as an opportunity for your brand voice living everywhere you are not."
Cool. I'm thinking of my brand voice living in Vegas in one of those townhouses where all the super-hot strippers live. Either there or in Tyler's mom's basement where the "Millennial-inspired Participation Economy" is headquartered.
"Uniqueness will be a proxy for brand pricing authority and meaningfulness will be a proxy for sales volume potential."
And typing will be a proxy for writing, and insufferable bullshit will be a proxy for thinking.


Cecil B. DeMille said...

Urge to kill...rising...

Jeffrey Peacock said...

Hi Bob

I am a loyal reader and fellow head shaker in the presence of hyperbole and, yet again, you fail to disappoint! I always enjoy your take ...and, dare I admit, (most often) your take down!

Now, while you had me at your sardonic open on this one, you lost me with your closing crosshairs: that op-ed you quote may read like it's firing from the trenches of the misguided, but the reality remains that its marquee conclusions invoke principles that are close to the heart of my firm and are quite compelling when proposed with less hyperbolic 'fast food' verve: "Uniqueness" and "Meaningfulness" are indeed proxies for premium pricing and sales volume potential, respectively. If you're calling out the style, then don't read any further and we can agree. However, if you're calling out the thinking, I simply can't help myself:

I know that an overt dive here into the tenets of Value-based Management (or, dare i suggest, economics) may be a bit grandiose, but, if you go hunting, an intuitive consistency plays out in the data that has led to years of significant bottom line lift for countless manufacturers and service providers. I'll save the data but note that, as metrics, these two are pretty powerful weapons when looked at across the 200 sectors and 20,000 Americans we speak with each week:
1. If even the most rational agent cannot obtain something easily (and that something stands apart from all other options), it is very likely going to be considered unique; something for which individuals are simply willing to pay more...MUCH more in some cases; [think Apple with the launch of iPod]
2. We all hold some things dear: and for whatever reason they tap into something we believe, need and often share with others be it values, desires, motivations. As such, those things often join the constellation of that which we consider to be personally meaningful. And this tends to track culturally - call it zeitgeist, even fashion (of a more enduring sort). When this something 'meaningful' takes hold, it is increasingly likely to tap into something more broadly shared at some level and now with some momentum. With this cultural diffusion comes volume potential. [think Apple products available at Walmart]

Beyond conveying ideas, inspiring emotion, and motivating behavior, our purpose in marketing goes beyond the soft, squishy and intangible. Marketers and brand owners must work within a particularly tangible day-to-day context: not just reducing price sensitivity but, in fact, rendering impotent that primal price-leading crutch to which marketers too often resort.

Bob, price opportunity and share lift lie at the heart of the quote you've called out as insufferable bullshit. We are actually talking about the things that boost ROMI, profit and stock price. Hyperbolic commentary aside, quieting everyone's inner price marketer is what so-called content is likely trying to do, whether via blogs (not unlike like this one) or the power of advertising, thoughtful innovation, provocative activation, and otherwise. And, again, while I can't defend the voice you've called onto the carpet, acting on some of the thinking they espouse does in fact change business trajectory for the positive.

Thanks for continually sharing your keen mind and rapier-like wit!



James Maclean said...

I thought you'd like that article.

Dan F said...

Nah, you got it right. When quite new on a job, I was asked to present to my marketing department on "my marketing philosophy and approach" - I presented one slide that said "Get Sh*t Done". No one misunderstood.

Differentiation without result is worthless. The reason for being "unique" is to sell more stuff. Any other reason is really silly, don't you think?

Andrew Rose-Rankin said...

made my day....

Adrian Langford said...

Yet again the Apple outlier is trotted out as the only example to support misguided thinking. Look at the data - most brands are not unique yet do pretty well.

Jeffrey Peacock said...

less about the easy example...i knew when i wrote it that someone would bite the low hanging fruit for the predictably wrong reason...ahh withered hindsight... ;)

this is more about the nature of differentiated appeal and advantage...Unique is neither binary nor absolute; it is relative

"most brands are not unique yet do pretty well"

sure, if you're satisfied being an average operator in a sea of sameness, enjoying slowly decreasing return on investment, increasing margin pressure and eroding long term equity...look beyond the 3 year horizon where the water is murkier and see if undifferentated still translates to 'pretty well'

Jim Powell said...

How can I help you? I don't know I really don't. Maybe get a girlfriend would be a good place to start.

James T said...

Do you think that was his first time using words?

Charlotte said...

a mystery to me what the Enigma Generation is.

Mark@Quirk said...

My favourite line 'Awareness and regard alone will not correlate in any way to extra-ordinary and sustainable financial performance.' HUGE statement, no evidence offered.

Chip said...

I feel like Scientology just fucked a Muppet.

Boopboopadoop said...

Finally, something to laugh about today. Thanks for SHARING.

Jonathan Rodgers said...

Really? I'm ill.

You're right, it's a great example of a business with no shame. But also of a business that doesn't look very deeply into work anymore - for either quality, insight, or results. In our current Buzzfeed mentality, skimming is the new currency. In part because people are overwhelmed, and in part because they just don't want to put the hard work in, or have the attention span.

The business has always had some smoke and mirrors, but now there's so much smoke that our business can't see itself in the mirror. And that's just fine, 'cause if they could see, it might just make them ill too.

BrendaKilgour said...

From my perspective people are working plenty hard, just at the wrong things. QR Codes, anyone?

Jimi Bostock said...

Ha ha, I love his first utterance .... "It became pretty prevalent to me ..." now that's a guy you can trust ... its pretty widespread to me that he is going to talk crap after mangling the English language so badly :)