Social media is bullshit

Social media is bullshit

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... is the title of an enlightening and helpful little book by BJ Mendelson

It helps you sort out the crap from the hype. Some things that ring bells.

Beware cyber hipster’s thought leadership
A whole class of cyber hipsters are busy creating and spreading hype because it helps their own business/raises their fees as public speakers. Heard of web 2.0? Yup. Tim O’Reilly – an uber cyber hipster – came up with it (probably) and has built a consulting business and a regular expensive conference on the back of it. He can stand for a whole class of cyber hipsters who swim around in the same pool and scratch each others backs - no different them from other walks of life then.

There are very few pure social media successes
Many so-called social media success stories – think Old Spice man – are not really that. They also had big ad spend and top quality media production behind them. Cui Bono? is always a good question.

Who benefits from the idea that social media are powerful in building brands? It’s the big platforms themselves - like Facebook and Twitter - who are trying to grab their share of the advertising pie. You’re a dinosaur if you are not using social media aren’t you? Well, arent you?

Cue all sorts of “innovations” from these platforms to win more ad spend – sponsored tweets/native ads - all of which will be boosted as the next big thing.

Talent alone rarely wins out
Beware the Justin Beiber myth - this is the idea that someone with talent (yes he has got some, painful to admit) can come from nowhere and break through big time. It is very rare. Mostly when you lift the lid on successes there are big media partners and/or ad spend and various other (paid for) boosters behind it.

BJ Mendelson's book is useful in helping you develop your bullshit detectors. The internet is so young that it is bound to be teeming with hucksters and charlatans- he calls them out.

But he overstates the case.
It may be naive to think that talent alone or great content will win through. Yet... access is greatly increased. Everyone can now be a publisher/creator/filmmaker/writer now. You can build a following if you do it well – i.e. you are relevant and/or interesting. Bear in mind though, if you have any success you will have to trade with big media and other big beasts of the internet to get to the next level.

One other good reason to read this book is he has a whole section on how to “game the system” – i.e. get seen as an expert and win profile and followers. Which rather proves the point that the system is much more open than before.


This review was by Julian Saunders, founder of The Joined Up Company. You can follow him at @jmks.

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Author: The Marketing Society
Posted: 02 Nov 2014
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