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June 09, 2010

Social media is crap.


But is it?

One thing is for sure, it would seem that there is a lot of debate on the web and it would also appear that the term "Marketing" and "Social Media" are being used in the same sentence.

Question: Should they?

I would argue that if they are, then it is crap. I can say this because most of the "marketeers" that I know would wish that it did or still see it as an opportunity to do so.

I'm not a marketeer, never have been, but from what I can see Marketing stands for this: See a "channel" (an opportunity to be exposed to great numbers of people), go with a budget and create a "campaign", then calculate the "ROI", take the profit and do it again.

There is nothing wrong with this.

But what is wrong is trying to use this method in a social environment. Surely.

Yesterday it was announced that social networks have overtaken search engines in the UK!  Marketing using an indexing site such as Google will deliver a quantifiable ROI, we know this to be true. 


Pics courtesy of TechCrunch Europe 

But this form of marketing is no different than having a shop on the High street - fuelled by intent, and this word "intent" is important. We go shopping with the intent to buy something, but we don't go to a social activity with the same intent. Social activities, by default, can influence the intent, but the subtleties of this are a far reach of what traditional marketing will bring to "intent".

Robin Goad from Hitwise says this: “although social networks and search engines perform different functions, they both act as gateways to the wider Internet. This data perfectly illustrates the key role that social media now plays in so much online behavior.”

So it would appear that "Marketing" is a method of captivating intent. Good. But it only works when there is intent.

The intent in a social activity is exactly that - social.

So it would appear that SM is a force that, without a doubt and bias, needs to be reckoned with - but the subtleties of method and use need to be dealt with as well.

And these subtleties mean that "Marketing" (in the traditional sense) to the social streams is crap, because you will find it very hard to calculate an ROI. It's costly and, moreover, in the long term could spell disaster as what ever you put up there today stays there in perpetuity and being perceived as a spammer will only damage your brand and mind-share.

Marketing to a social stream will "pigeon hole" the perpetrator as being "stuck on broadcast mode" and what is social about that?

Social media is not crap - marketing to it is.



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