29
Mar
10

Social media is bollocks

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that people in marketing will exaggerate, obfuscate and complicate to make basic services that rely on creative force sound far more complex than they really are. It’s the ‘Witch Doctor’s’ pretext that sold plague “cures” 500 years ago, and the sad truth is, there’s more people out there doing it today than ever before.

A day doesn’t go by without some utterly fatuous piece of research proclaiming social media as the only way that anyone is ever going to get any message across in the 21st century, but really, we’ve heard this before.

In the 80s it was FM and aspirational TV adverts that moved away from ‘buy this now because…’ prevalent through advertising since the first recognisable adverts. In the early 90s it was quirky adverts on TV with magazine-spread teasers mixed with a new mode of public relations. It’s modus operandi was to make an advert so odd it’ll get press coverage but won’t necessarily have anything to do with the product (a la Tango et al). And finally as the millennium passed and we moved into the naughties it was first ‘the internet’ and then ‘social media’ that became the words advertising, marketing and public relations agencies flourished around.

Every second graduate is now claiming they’re a social media executive, while all they’re really doing is taking press releases and cutting them down to 140 characters for Twitter, missing the point of interaction altogether. The vast majority of these practitioners are simply rehashing their Media Studies training, putting out the same old ideas on a new platform hoping it’s the platform that’ll make the difference.

This is of course only compounded media willing to publish anything with a buzz word in; the result? Dodgy article after dodgy article heralding ‘new ways’ of talking to consumers using social media as the messiah platform.

It’s not. The platform is irrelevant, it’s the message and the audience that matter.

While undoubtedly social media has changed the way that brands talk to consumers, and will continue to change the way people talk about brands, services, companies and their advertising, it’s just another platform. TV changed the way people interacted, so did the telephone, so did the Web1.0 internet, to think that Web2.0 social media is going to be any more or less influential is silly.

Concentrate on the message, listen to the feedback, and if they’re good, thorough, and appropriate for the audience you’ll win every time. So the next time you see a percentage thrown randomly into an article about social media, consider where that might have come from, think hard about why it might be there, and always read the small print; because often it’s not saying quite what you think it might be saying on first glance… because after all; that’s what witch doctors do.

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