Wednesday, April 22, 2009

social media marketing is (mostly) evil

Social media. Sounds nice.

There's a media, a place of connection between various parties, and it's social. Like an ice cream social. People hanging out with each other voluntarily and enjoying the fellowship.

What could possibly go wrong?

Marketing. Sales. Corporations. Who always bring along their token Celebrities...or is it the other way around?

Take "social media", a good thing, and add "marketing" to the end of it, the goal and aim of it: "social media marketing." Sounds ugly, crass, and bothersome, does it not? I think so. When you watch how certain corporations, con artist investment opportunities, and self-promoters exploit the blogosphere and Twitter world, you see patterns of arrogance, greed, and deception.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)
is an ugly phrase like:

"public bathroom evangelism"
or "multi level marketing"
or "investment opportunity".

In far too many cases, social media marketing is malicious, avaricious, or counter-productive.

As usually practiced, social media marketing exploits online communities, while either pretending to be "sociable" in a contrived affiliate manner (interacting with others who are in on the con job) or is entirely dismissive of being an authentic individual and a good community member.

Social Media Marketing, in the best sense should be 95% unproductive, altruistic, non-ROI oriented interactions with community members, and only 5% marketing messages. You could say that Twitter users are "marketing/promoting" their opinions on politics, films, restaurants, etc. That's true.

But there's a big difference in communicating an opinion and hyping a product, which is why user forums have more credibility than corporate messaging, ads, and PR. If a user praises or criticizes a product, he generally won't gain anything, so his opinion is relatively unbiased, even if his user error is at fault, and he doesn't know this yet.

Twittering can be
a marketable skill.

As a veteran Twitter channel pro, your primary skill is NOT social media marketing -- but brevity/accuracy of communication. Businesses need Twitter adepts who know how NOT to use Twitter to sell their junk, but to communicate in short message format effectively.

Ability to condense thought, sum up succinctly, abbreviate a thought, truncate a message, trim a statement, put a complex idea in a tidy package -- business applications abound for Twitter type communications.

Twitterized Messaging /

Micro-blogging /

Short Content /

Brief Communications:

* brochure bullet points

* email newsletters

* blog posts

* inter-office memos

* digital billboards

* product packaging

* PowerPoint presentations

* text message marketing

Social media is alien
to sales and marketing.

Social media is not a new advertising platform.

Social media participants are not craving sales, marketing and PR messages. Nor do they seek to buy shares in the "next Google" or any other unsubstantiated con job. If they wanted to know about your product, they'd go to a user forum to read reviews of all the competing brands.

Business and Social Media

Having said this, it's okay to very occasionally, i.e. rarely, post a self-tooting tweet, blow your digital horn, and announce or link to some junk you sell that might actually benefit some of your Followers on Twitter.

It's okay for a company or news organization to "get on Twitter" or "start a blog". But while there are multiple ways to do it wrong, make it backfire, and cause more harm than good, there are also some good guidelines for effective use of social media.

First of all, your goal should NOT be increased sales or viral buzz. Forget relentless hype, insular non-interaction, and having a ratio of "Followers: 3,000 / Following: 127" (meaning: you want to preach to others, but you don't care to hear what others have to say).

Your goal should be to use social media primarily as a speedy, public, personalized channel of customer service and user feedback. Be "on Twitter" to solve problems, answer questions, handle complaints, take requests, explain policy, and schedule service calls.

You could also educate, via messages or links. Share your organization's insights and values. Teach users new skills. Help customers pick the right model. Help them understand features, applications, implementation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am doing research for my university thesis, thanks for your brilliant points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

- Laura