The Weird World of Social Media

Why on earth would anybody want to be friends with a brand? Nobody wants to be friends with a hospital or a pill.

How on earth is that social?

People want what they want and need – they want meaning. Brands aren’t people.

I think too many businesses and marketers are confused about today’s media.

First, many were late adopters – only a couple of years ago, I’d go to conferences and get glazed looks: “What’s a Twitter?”

Now, after reading social media blogs and attending more conferences, companies can’t get enough of this stuff and are purchasing crocks of snake oil.

But few are taking a step back and asking “What are these media? Why do people use them?” It seems like digital marketing agencies and businesses truly believe the notion that “it’s all about conversation”.

No! No! NO!!

Really: who wants to be friends with a brand? It’s an absolutely delusional proposition.

Yes, businesses need to be available to customers. Yes, theses media can be repurposed for business value.

But here’s where the confusion is: people use these media to talk with each other. They do talk about products and services. People talk about what’s meaningful to them.

Social matters between and among customers – not between brands and customers. This is the confusion.

This confusion is creating the weird world of social media, where we’re all supposed to be friends with brands and spend our time reading company tweets. Oy!

So the idea of brands being social is utterly misguided.

The Web is a great platform for people to connect with each other.

So help them make connections with each other.

That’s where companies need to invest resources.

Last century, you could spend 80% of your capital on marketing and 20% on core business. You could get away with shoddy products and services because customers didn’t have platforms to connect directly with each other.

That’s changed. The the mix has to flip: companies need to spend 20% on marketing and 80% on core business.

The purpose of marketing has always been to enhance a product’s attention and presence – not replace it.

This is why most social media efforts will fail.

Build a remarkable hospital. Hire competent nurses and doctors and encourage them to use social networks for their professional development and networking.

The way to do Social isn’t to do the weird thing and make brands social.

Nope: the way to do Social is to run a business with bright people who are committed to creating meaningful products and services, and then helping customers to talk openly and honestly about their experiences, problems, hopes and insights.

Trust me: it’s a much better world than the weird alternative universe where we wake up with yet another request to friend a brand.



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