Social Media – A Definition of Compelling Content? Anyone?

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

So shall.

So shall who?

So shall media gurus continue to be idiots ripe for poking fun at.

Tell me, why is it so easy? Currently, the case for social has holes in it that James Cameron could fly one of those big helicopter-type things out of Avatar through. Those blog snorkellers who’ve visited me before will be conversant with my take on the whole social media issue, and will know that I remain wholly unconvinced that it is a valid marketing or communications tool. And don’t get me started on the concept of ‘conversation’.

Anyway (he wrote, ever-so-wearily) today’s breath of fresh nonsense is courtesy of Mashable (hi there!) with this piece on ‘How to: take advantage of social media in your email marketing’. Nothing wrong with that per se – if you want to further abuse the database that (I hope) you’ve carefully nurtured and achieved some sort of acquiescence from, (in terms of sending them the occasional piece of marketing collateral), by giving them a link to your utterly pointless social media group – well, that’s your prerogative. Although I think you’ll see a rapid increase in ‘unsubscribes’.

No, the real issue I have with this is contained within the following paragraph, which outlines what you might provide to these hapless punters if they’re stupid enough to follow the links. (I suggest that you don the mental equivalent of a welding helmet before reading this, to avoid serious and permanent damage to your sensibilities.)

“Beyond that, create compelling content that people want to share. While a good promotion might not be as viral as a funny YouTube clip, your business’ fans will be more likely to spread the word if there’s a specific call to action. Moreover, create content that’s not necessarily a direct sell, but provides value to potential customers in the form of information that’s useful to them. Between good content and easy social media sharing options, your e-mail marketing can become a powerful weapon in growing your business.”

Ooooh, compelling content. If I had one of your splendid earth Euros for every time I’d heard that phrase, I could have repaired my spaceship weeks ago. What the f*ck is ‘compelling content’? Anyone? And how does ‘compelling content’ serve the purpose of a business, brand or organisation?

(The purpose of which, contrary to what Richard Lambert might believe ‘is to make money and everything else must be judged against that criterion’.)

And it gets worse. A good promotion is not going to be as viral as a funny YouTube clip – of course it isn’t. The only things that actually achieve true viral status are either video clips of people falling off skateboards and injuring themselves severely, or adverts featuring someone in a gorilla suit, drumming along to Phil Collins, which is so far off brand message as to be ultimately pointless – in terms of product sales. (As an example – a Guinness ad, called ‘Surfers’, won the Big Gold Bastard advertising award (I forget what it was actually called) for being brilliant and popular. Did it sell any beer? No.)

Then. Create content that’s not a direct sell, but provides value to potential customers. Why? Why would you provide value to potential customers (for the hard of thinking, these are people who have not bought from you and may never do so) without some sort of link to your product or service (which constitutes, to my mind, a ‘direct sell’)?

Apparently, between good content and sharing options, your email marketing can become a powerful weapon. Possibly. Or it could transform your perfectly good business, selling products or services, into an entertainment portal, frequented by many, but delivering no value to you whatsoever.

And the moral of this rant?

Email marketing is a good thing. It has a role to play – but don’t be tempted to abuse your database or you’ll lose it – and I would imagine it took you time, effort and investment to build it up. Social media is not (necessarily) a good thing – it is over-hyped and over-valued. ‘Compelling content’ is a buzz phrase – no-one actually knows what compelling content is – most examples of ‘compelling content’ have been generated through pure luck and happenstance. Social media does not, generally, contain compelling content – or rather, it’s only compelling to those who have a specific interest in it. It does not grow your business.

Ultimately, social media marketing, if it exists, is not the same as digital marketing. Social media is simply a small part of the whole digital piece and, potentially and currently, one that can be sidelined.

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