Wednesday, August 6

Does Social Media Crap Deserve Its Defenders?

It didn't take long at all. Within 15 minutes after the Ad Contrarian posted Why Your Social Strategy Sucks, there was a buzz of affirmation and then dissention. Some people felt he hit the nail on the head. Others thought he was unfair, cynical, and very discouraging. "At least people try," they said.

His contention was — much like television commercials, movies, books, songs, and paintings — about 93 percent of all social media sucks. But unlike all other mediums, people aren't satisfied when the crap they create on social media doesn't go anywhere. They just promote it and push it harder.

It's hard to argue with him. Take a look at Facebook. It made $2.36 billion in ad revenue last quarter.

Do you really think marketers spent $2.36 billion in three months to promote content that was wildly creative and instinctively compelling? Trust me. They spend it on the content nobody wants to see.

"Producing crap is better than being silent," one person wrote. "At least you have a chance."

The entire topic is perplexing to me. Does social media crap deserve to be defended? I'm not so sure.

If we can no longer identify crap for what it is, then we truly have surrendered to the notion that advertising, communication, design, marketing, and social media have become such a banal commodity that anybody can do it. And if that is true, then none of our experience, education, expertise, and talent adds value. Everybody deserves a certificate of participation. At least they tried.

No wonder some pros are discontent. In a world where everyone is a storytellerstorytelling ceases to have any identifiable meaning beyond the mundane. We can all rehash our day at the dinner table.

So let's not be delusional. Not every life event is created equal. Not all publicity is good publicity. Not all criticism is cynicism. Sometimes the very best thing that anybody can ever do for you is tell you when your content is not working so you can stop misappropriating time, wasting money, and (perhaps) damaging your brand. And if more professionals had the courage to call out questionable ideas, then maybe fewer marketing budgets would be wasted and more companies would succeed.

Producing crap is not better than being silent. Because while crap might give you a chance to be noticed, it also robs you of any chance to make your best first impression. And therein lies the difference between "trying" something out online and executing part of a strategic plan.

While either method can produce crap, one is informed enough to see it for what it is and take action to fix it. The other merely tries to convince people otherwise. When they do, we all lose. Just like saturated fat, the public can easily develop an appetite for it and then our clients will order more too.
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