Social Media Marketing? Kaboom, Baby!

March 22, 2009

Last week on twitter, writing the dirty draft for this article, I claimed that social media marketer is just another word for spammer. If that upset you, don’t read the following text.

First, what are we talking about here? What is marketing? Marketing is “the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service”. And there is nothing wrong with promotion or sales.

But promote and sell is not how the web works. You might be able to promote — if you don’t sell at the same time. You can sell stuff pretty well online, but don’t try sell and promote your own stuff (no one will believe you). Just sell without making a fuss.

That’s the clue of the so called “social media”: That we don’t need you to promote your stuff. We promote it for you—if we like it.

Contradiction in Terms

Market communication about products now happens more and more without the corporation—and that’s how we all want it to stay. We don’t need some weirdo sticking his head over our shoulders when we talk with our friends. The only trustworthy expert opinion about social media is: That social media users they’re a bad target for marketing tactics. If social media were a good place to promote and sell, facebook or digg would be a advertisement paradise. But they are not. And the really bad news is: Social media users hate you even more if they feel that you personally target them.

Please, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with targeting, getting attention, getting your message out, there is nothing wrong with social or other media. On TV, getting attention is all you need. If you get your message out in print you’re doing really fine. And of course, companies should use the Internet for advertisement, sales and customer service.

But if you want to get the attention of Your Highness The User, you better have some presents for him. Give him cool TV shows, class A news, high end music, mindblowing new ideas. For free. And don’t wrap your gift into a sign up form or any market research bullshit! (Google, Twitter, facebook are more reliable there anyways). To your online audience an ad strategy that just tries to promote and sell in one go feels like this:

Now, you might be surprised to hear that “the activity of attracting public attention to a product or business” in short “advertising” is doing better than ever. Well, it has changed its mechanics, it has changed its face, it has changed its name. We now call it “the Internet”. The Internet is advertising, advertising minus the bullshit.

The difference between what we used to call “advertising” and the Internet is that online you have a) no control over your message, that b) you can’t really buy attention with just money (Google Adwords? Banners? Do you look at banners? ) and c) that selling is the exception to the rule.

Horse Shoes for Cars

Let me say it again: There are no social media marketing specialists. The right word for people that play tricks with social media is not “marketing specialist” but social (media) engineer or “spammer”. A “social media marketing specialist” is a blacksmith that sells horse shoes for cars.

Of course there is Internet marketing, and the real question is: Why do the marketing guys now say “social media marketing” and not “Internet marketing”? Answer: Because “Internet marketing” sounds cheap. And it is cheap. If it’s smart, it is cheap in a good way, as it can save a lot of money. But, as we know, it can be cheap in a really bad way, too.

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