Soon enough, we will, yet again, be upon the celebration of Social Media Day. I hesitate to even get started on the ridiculousness of THIS “holiday.”
This “holiday” is an opportunity for people who work in Social Media to congratulate ourselves (yet again) about how important Social Media is, and how important our jobs of managing brand accounts really is.
As an early adopter and a professional in the world of Social Media from its early days, I want to add my thoughts.
The Train Has Come Off The Tracks
In order for Social Media to become special again, I think we need to stop treating Social Media like it’s something special.
Early on we all witnessed the birth of customer-centric communications and saw with it, the promise of a democratized web, one where anyone had a voice. WE, finally, had power.
Small companies with small budgets were finally able to connect with their customers inexpensively, if they just cared enough, and chose to be creative enough.
But the promise of Social Media is failing.
- Facebook controls the reach of our content with algorithms
- Yelp alters the visibility of reviews
- Twitter and Snapchat rush to justify their valuations and satisfy shareholders with new advertising products
- 30 second video ads precede 15 second video clips
- Advertising has become disguised as content, and content looks like advertising
- Both conversations and engagement have become meaningless buzzwords and metrics
- People build audiences, not to connect and expand horizons, but to monetize and sell to the highest bidder
We didn’t become more social, we just got impatient.
We’re losing the social but keeping the media.
Now, as marketers, we try to beat the algorithm instead of win the hearts and minds of customers.
We think about is clickthrough rates on the ads we buy because organic reach is dead.
We see great networks with hundreds of millions of users defined as “dead” or “failing” because “engagement rates” aren’t as high as they are elsewhere.
We’ve fallen back into the same old traps.
But we can do better. We can turn the ship around.
I remember an SEO professional I know once saying that he “wanted a seat at the table” in the serious marketing discussions. Well, I want that too, but not just in marketing, and not in the way that people currently talk about Social Media.
I’m tired of the flash and hype. I’m tired of the celebrations and self-congratulatory behavior in this industry. We didn’t cure Cancer just because people clicked Like on the photo of the “Cancer Sucks” meme.
I think these Social Media platforms need to stop being overvalued when they have no revenue model, or one that is entirely reliant on advertising.
I think we need to start celebrating people more and brands less.
Don’t just check the box and clutter the web with noise and garbage. Consider the purpose beyond simply being “active on social media” or generating “engagement.”
Any maybe all of this starts when we stop celebrating social media and start doing it right.