Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 24, 201311:25 AM

Maybe You Should Quit New Media

If you think it's dumb, don't do it.

Not many marketing professionals are willing to do that. Recently, I saw a quote from a famed author who said: "I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than tweet." Personally, I'd rather stick pins in my eyes that be forced to read their book, but that's a whole other story. This author's sentiment could be replicated and replaced with channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, podcasting, TV advertising, or whatever. The problem is this: I've run into too many brands who feel this way, but are still doing it because they feel like they have to. Their boss told them to do it, it's where the consumers are, their competitors are doing it, they feel internal peer pressure, they feel industry peer pressure and other issues. Personally, I'm guilty as charged when it comes to being a maniacal evangelist for digital marketing.

Why maniacal?

It's a philosophical issue over one of pragmatism. I believe that the Internet has brought forth an amazing opportunity for brands to connect (in a more human, personal and humane way) with consumers. I believe that the Internet has brought forth the chance for everyone to publish their thoughts - in text, images, audio and video - instantly and for free to the world and such a profound gift should not be wasted. I believe that advertising can be more than a discount, coupon or annoyingly repetitive message to induce a zombie-like effect on consumers. I believe that the Internet has brought forth the ability for brands to give consumers utility - something they would actually want and use - to add value to the consumer's life and, in turn, create a deep loyalty and connectivity between the brand and its customers.

If it's not for you... it's not for you.

I have been fortunate to be a guest on multiple podcasts where the "host" has asked me to provide all of the questions that they should ask. In the same instance I was instructed to not be so salesy, but once the recording commenced, every question was tweaked for the host to shill how great their company is, and how they could help all of listeners with every issue we were discussing. I have been asked to be interviewed for blogs and online publications and then sent an email to not only write the questions, but the responses as well. You could chalk this all up to lazy journalism (or, a complete lack of journalism), but there is something deeper... something more profound is happening here. Brands are taking part in social media and digital publishing with a much stronger prowess, when it comes to having a strategy and plan in place, but the chasm between the vision and mission of these offerings is often quickly uncovered in those who are mandated to make it successful. If the people on your team (those charged with making the strategy comes to life) don't have the skills, passion, ability and belief in it, all is lost.

A newspaper is not about the printer. 

You don't read a newspaper because of how it is printed. You don't read a newspaper because of its business desire to generate revenue. You read a newspaper for the content. And, if we're going to scratch beneath the surface, you come back, talk about the content with peers and are encouraged to read it again tomorrow based on the passion that flows from the fingers of the journalists. If everyone writing for the newspaper was merely an employee, going through the motions, because that's the job, what do you think the success rate of that paper would be? When we see online publishers like Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and Medium, what is plainly obvious is how passionate and knowledgeable the content creators are. In fact, it goes well beyond the content and into the creators' personal channels (Google +, Facebook, Twitter, etc...) in how they market, share and extend the discourse because they want their ideas to spread.

I have to do social media.

So, if your sentiment is similar to that of the famed author mentioned above, you may want to take a step back and simply walk away from these channels. I wouldn't recommend this as a strategy, but if you're that dead set against it, the world would rather have no direct relationship with you (and your brand) in lieu of marketing blather that is being created with a gun being pointed at your head. Perhaps straight-up advertising would be the ideal solution for when you have something that you want to promote. Because, if you don't care for it, why should your audience? But, here's the bigger question that the nay-sayers and those who are down on social channels need to ask themselves: if you are looking to sell and promote something, isn't being negative or not present on a channel where your most heavy users are probably interested in connecting with you akin to saying, I have a store and I simply don't have the time or effort to turn the lights on, unlock the door and be cordial to those who want to come in?

It's 2013... and we're still having this conversation? This disbelief in the channels? Really? 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Samuel Parent
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,
    thanks for venting that, I've thought it to myself for the last 5 years (at least) but kept my mouth shut... it feels good to put it out there.
    -- get with the program or get out of the way, someone else will do it in your stead (maybe a competitor?)

    Reply
  • Posted by Danny Brown
    Mitch Joel

    My wife once read a Kate Atkinson book. The first thing she said to me was, "Do we have any pins?"

    People, eh? :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Joseph Ratliff
    Mitch Joel

    Amen to the opening line of your post, Mitch. Says it all right there.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Amen! If you do not have passion for something, it shows! And a lack of passion in your writing or even participation is rewarded in kind, every time. Thanks for another fantastic take on social and marketing today Mitch!

    Reply
  • Posted by Mark Schaefer
    Mitch Joel

    Every time I feel good about my writing ability, I come in here and am humbled.

    I am going to make this an assigned reading for my classes. Beautifully said. Captures the heart of the problem. At some point you need heart, not just goals.

    Reply
  • Posted by Cas McCullough
    Mitch Joel

    There's no point to just going through the motions. At some point businesses need to become believers if they're going to see results, not the other way around. Thanks for a great post.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    We live in a time when pundits dictate the way it should be, where best practices dominate conversations. From a business standpoint, the only rudder should be customers and the overall market community.

    Serving customers, building loyalty, communicating well with customers (regardless of channel) is about understanding what motivates them. Apple, while currently in a down period, built an entire brand off of not offering a direct voice in social media. There are no rules.

    Reply
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