My fear for social media

Look, I know I poke fun at the whole social media thing. Often. I know I bitch and moan about the consultants that have somehow pulled the wool over many people’s eyes as they continue to spout philosophical crap while not having any actual experience to back it up.

But I digress.

Lately I’ve been very disheartened by my Twitter and Facebook streams. Because the very people who tell the rest of us to use social media as a place for “authentic, transparent conversations” have turned their presence on these channels into link farms that constantly and incessantly push out messages about themselves, their business or links to yet another article about the practice they so love.

In other words, the social media space is quickly being overrun with impersonal “look over here” “please pay attention to me” messages by the very people who think that it’s the chosen medium. And I only follow 400 people (and yes, I do use lists). I fully believe that Malcolm Gladwell nailed it in his recent article in The New Yorker. Yes, we are creating ties with others through social media, but they are weak ties. They are ties that we may not have had before, but they are no replacement for good ol’ face-to-face word of mouth.

Turn on your Twitter stream and you can connect with some great thinkers – but most of them are only thinking about the medium that they continue to preach about (and that earns them a paycheck). So my challenge to you is when you’re thinking of that next social media campaign, think about how it can live offline. Think about humans, not technology. Think about being a facilitator, not a marketer. Think about how people are not tools (insert your own joke here), so don’t treat them like they are. And when they do decide to engage with you, appreciate it by showing your appreciation.

Actions speak louder than tweets, people. Remember that and you’ll be on the right path.

23 Comments

  • October 25, 2010

    Cara Keithley

    I’ve noticed this too…the value I used to perceive in this space has eroded. That’s part of why I participate less. And the majority of the relationships that I still find great value in are those that I have transitioned into offline relationships as well. I actually have lunch or coffee with them on occasion.

    I long for the days (2 years ago or so) when we used to have profound discussions on social media and marketing and the “new frontier.” Where the big names and the little names all seemed equalized in the space and shared together. But, now that we’ve gotten so many companies and organizations on board with social media, it seems people haven’t quite figured out how to move the conversations forward and continue to use social media in innovative ways (I mean connecting and collaborating, not just marketing.)

    I admit, I’m still working on this too. I just choose not to tweet as much until I figure it out or find those opportunities. But I do think about this when talking with organizations about launching their own social media presense. I encourage them to look at existing conversations and existing communities more than ever.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Spike Jones, Chris Walbert, Evan Strange, Glenn Taylor, Michael Hay and others. Michael Hay said: I'm glad @spikejones articulates what I often can not about sm and it's "experts". http://bit.ly/bgfQAS [...]

  • October 25, 2010

    Eric Hoffman

    I think that there has always been an ADD aspect to social media, but as more marketers, brands and people become more active, it’s only getting more so. Good pts and I love your advice of action speaking louder than tweets – good words to live by.

  • October 25, 2010

    Vincent Ammirato

    I see the huge push to commercialize the social media space but I’m not surprised. To paraphrase a saying John Moore once related, “If you can measure it, you can manufacture it.” More people are trying to measure their social media influence (Klout) so it is natural for them to try to exploit that high influence with a few bucks.

    Now its mainstream – anyone can sign-up for services like RevTwt and get paid per-click. The noise continues.

    And let’s face it…many of the social media “gurus” slipped into the position. They have artificially inflated follower counts that they gamed or paid for…and now they use those counts to justify themselves as social media marketers.

    These same people will spam tweet until cows die.

    But what about a solution, Spike? Perhaps a specialized account that requires some sort of advanced verification to keep down on multiple accounts per person? Or…we can just unfollow everyone that puts up an ad on Twitter.

  • October 25, 2010

    Jim Mitchem

    Sorry man. I’ve been sharing way too much personal stuff lately. Meaningless drivel that basically amounts to nothing but takes up space in my head – so I share it. However, when I’m writing these posts, I’m thinking about you – the reader, and what you might take away from the precious few moments that you allow me to live in your head. This is no different than what I’ve been doing for a decade in writing advertising. The most effective concepts I’ve ever written were for real humans who decipher written code so that it has meaning in their hearts and minds. Over the past two years I’ve said that the transition from traditional advertising/marketing to the social space is almost too simple for some people to grasp. It’s still just a dialogue, man. The move to real time has been coming forever. Now it should be natural to engage in this space. But too few people ever did it the right way in the old days, I’m afraid. Sadly, they’re the ones out there trying to pull the wool. And they’re loud.

  • Twitter Comment


    RT @Shih_Wei: Actions speak louder than tweets. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Twitter Comment


    RT @xybrewer: This is what has been making me ill… @spikejones nails it: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Twitter Comment


    Actions speak louder than tweets. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • October 25, 2010

    lrbray (Lindsey Bray)

    Twitter Comment


    insightful as always RT @m_scott_hay I’m glad @spikejones articulates what I often can not about sm and it’s “experts”. [link to post]

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  • October 25, 2010

    EvanStrange (Evan Strange)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @m_scott_hay: I’m glad @spikejones articulates what I often can not about sm and it’s “experts”. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • October 25, 2010

    KatMalone (Katherine Malone)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @spikejones: My fear for social media: [link to post] [Agree: "actions speak louder than tweets"]

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  • October 25, 2010

    deanshaw (deanshaw)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @spikejones My fear for social media: [link to post] [ME: You really should follow @spikejones]

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  • October 25, 2010

    xybrewer (Christy Brewer)

    Twitter Comment


    This is what has been making me ill… @spikejones nails it: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Twitter Comment


    Great advice from @spikejones: On social media, actions speak louder than words – [link to post]

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  • October 25, 2010

    nickjayres (Nick Ayres)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @spikejones: My fear for social media: [link to post] // Nice Monday sanity check – never forget the power of offline WOM

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  • October 25, 2010

    m_scott_hay (Michael Hay)

    Twitter Comment


    I’m glad @spikejones articulates what I often can not about sm and it’s “experts”. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • October 26, 2010

    thatwoman_is (Cd Vann)

    Twitter Comment


    By @SpikeJones – My fear for social media [link to post] ( I love the first paragraph )

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • October 26, 2010

    ejaxon (Eric Jackson)

    Twitter Comment


    Not just a complaint, but good challenge. RT @spikejones: My fear for social media: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • October 26, 2010

    Brett Duncan

    I think you’ve captured a sentiment I’ve had, and yet I also think I’m somewhat guilty of using the space maybe a bit too link-farmish.

    I’m curious: many folks actually appreciate social media because of its content distribution/curation abilities. What are your thoughts on that? Are you completely against it? Is that a good use of, say, Twitter, or not so much?

    bd
    @bdunc1

  • October 26, 2010

    Talton Figgins

    I remember Leo Laporte talking about how great MySpace was but how much better Facebook was getting though soon enough Facebook would get overrun and then we’d all move-on to something else. Spammers help decompose technologies so that we can create new ones. Without spam where would be? Thanks Spammers! :-P

  • October 26, 2010

    Ashley Baxter

    I think a lot of people are still not sure what type of “life” they want to live through social media. You’ve got people that originally created profiles in order to connect with friends, those that started profiles with the intent to spam all the followers to death, and those that are inbetween. I think the struggle is finding a good balance of marketing while having a human element as well. The sad truth is that most people will always be trying to sell something no matter how they try to humaize it.

  • October 27, 2010

    Kate

    Great post, Spike! Big ups.

    Social media should be about relationships and not selling! The companies who have used social media successfully are the the ones who stopped thinking about money and started thinking about PEOPLE. At the end of the day, everybody’s business hinges on its relationships with others. Without a doubt, SM helps companies to create relationships, but SM won’t be enough to sustain them.

  • [...] My fear for social media – Sure social media is a great outlet, but do you ever feel that it is changing into a self-promotional hub? If so, check out this piece from Spike Jones. [...]

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