Now, many people believe I am a cynic.
I’m not so sure myself, but I think I do have a healthy amount of cynicism around the industry I find myself in.
It could be said that advertising and media is an industry that is opportunistic at its core. But I don’t think any other current trend symbolises opportunism more than the world of ‘social media’.
Opportunistic – taking immediate advantage, often unethically, of any circumstance of possible benefit (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/opportunistic)
Is it just me, or is the recent wave of social media consutancy/consultants/experts/strategists/firms etc more about self interest than a real need.
Now, I am aware that media agencies and large ad groups (not to mention publishers, creative agencies etc) initial embrace of digital was in most cases driven by the same underlying factors … but I truly believe now they have moved beyond this into addressing an important issue – the evolution of media and advertising.
And are the new bunch of overnight social media experts opportunistic salesmen looking for the quickest way to generate the highest yield in a topical and not yet defined space?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying all involved are like this … but it seems to be a space populated by numerous ruthless self promoters whose generally sales tactic is to dismiss the opinion and thoughts of those who have preceeded them.
It also doesn’t help that when many try and explain what they try and do it becomes a horrible mutation of words that really don’t mean too much.
It’s typified by brazen predictions about the death of ‘heritage media’ and the irrelevance of anything non digital. These are generally backed up by loads of stats from sources no one has heard of and referenced from like minded ‘digital thinkers’.
Anyway – advertising is full of people whose words don’t mean anything so this is really nothing new.
However, the dedication to selling service/tools/monitoring etc is a new phenomenon in the levels we’re seeing now. Consulting, monitoring, community building, dialogue facilitation.
Social media monitoring is a decent little business. You know … the ‘we can monitor what people are saying about you in the blogosphere/twittersphere’ and whatever other spheres have popped up in the last few hours.
They all have funny names and no one really knows how well they work, and generally what the data means.
These tools are being wheeled out by loads of groups/people to gullible marketing types who believe that they can tell them things they don’t already know.
It could be argued this is technology for technologies sake. Sure, it can be done … but does it need to be? And who really benefits from it?
These tools are sold into brand managers who truly believe that thousands of people are having a conversation with others about their brand of hand sanitiser and it’s something they need to be across.
Many are sold under the thin premise that these companies can also ‘influence’ or massage the conversation.
Here’s the question. It might be great to know that there were 450 mentions of your brand online in the past x days – but what does it mean and does it really matter?
Does it matter to McDonalds if some dude Twitters at 5am saying ‘am at maccas bourke street waiting for the nightrider, wasted’?
And what about the conversations going on in the real world – the places we have REAL CONVERSATIONS. With family, friends, co-workers etc.
It’s my belief that digital still isn’t taken as seriously by marketing folk as it needs to be and the ‘dedication to the new’ is probably at the heart of this.
It is hard to take seriously an industry that constantly changes its mind around what works for advertisers and keeps rolling out ‘game changers’ that don’t really change the game.
All industry is driven to an extent by a combination of ego and commercial gain, but when ego and commercial gain is all that is driving something then it’s a problem.