You’re Zucked!

Proof, were it needed, that Facebook is eeeee-ville.

Well, OK, it’s not actually proof, per se, and it’s not actually Facebook, per se, it’s more a bunch of opinions about the loathsome whelp who started it all, Mark Zuckerberg. Who, incidentally,  sounds like a genuinely unpleasant nerd with few ethics and a touch of the pulling-the-legs-off-flies Asperger’s about him. 

(But that’s just my tuppence worth and I am happy to state – for the record – that it is in no way based on fact or personal experience and is merely a conclusion drawn from available material and thus only probably bang on the money.)

Anyway, if, lazy, slothful, comatose blog snorkellers mine, you were (for once) to follow the link that I’ve posted, you’d find yourself inside the head of one Jason Calacanis, who definitely has a downer on the Zuckerbergster. And, if half the things he’s saying are half true, then perhaps he’s right. (Although he does go on at quite some length, implying that he may have an axe of a personal nature to grind.) 

I was taken with the term ‘You’re Zucked’ which appears to describe the state of having had your ideas stolen by someone, or having been screwed over by a business partner. Apparently, his behaviour has been so bad that those in the know are now calling for a boycott of ‘book, and have decreed that ‘book is seriously uncool.

(Mind, if ‘book really has 400 million users and is the third largest country in the world by population, I think it may take a little time for this uncoolness to filter down. I also cannot help but thinking – what did you expect? His Zuckness is an entrepreneur and a businessman and you don’t get anywhere by being nice and holding the door open for people. But maybe that’s me.)

My worry is that if ‘book goes down – what hideous creature will rise in its place? See – I don’t believe the social media hippies and I don’t believe in the inherent goodness and niceness of all and sundry. There’s always someone who wants to make money and screw everyone else – and if it’s not the Zuckerburger, then who (or what) is waiting in the wings?

Maybe we should be careful what we wish for. (Or, as I’m speaking for myself, what I wish for.)

Quiet in here, isn’t it?

Social Media – B*ll*cks to Twitter

Better late than never. Trawling through my backlog of trade magazines, I came across an issue of Marketing from September 30. Almost a month old. I’d be a really crap journalist.

Luckily I’m not. And neither is Mark Ritson, who wrote this (to my mind) brilliant article. Mr Ritson is an ‘associate professor of marketing’ – whatever that is – and these are his thoughts on the parallel between what’s happening now with social media and what happened 10 years ago just prior to the dotcom bust. Here’s a flavour:

“If you believe the hype, Twitter is the future of media and marketing. John Borthwick, chief executive of web investor Betaworks, told the New York Times last week that Twitter ‘represents a next layer of innovation on the internet’ and that the investment was justified ‘because it represents a shift’. Ten years ago, I would have gulped, assumed I was missing something, and nodded my head at this.

“These days I am older, fatter and a good deal wiser, and I say (in fewer that 140 characters): bollocks to Twitter. And bollocks to it being worth a billion dollars.”

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

(Mind – a month is a long time in social media and Mr Ritson may already have changed his mind.)

Social Media – The Last Days of The Empire……

History shows us that, right before a major upheaval, there’s normally a flurry of activity. Decadence. Celebration of the good times. Wringing out of the last drop of excitement and pleasure. I refer you to, in no particular order:

  • Nero and the whole Rome deal
  • King Charles, his nasty long hair and his cavalier attitude
  • A nice slice of cake prior to the French Revolution
  • The divinely decadent parade getting a good raining on courtesy of Mr Hitler
  • £400k for a one-bedroom flat in Acton – that’s worth nothing now

Taking this into account, I was interested to read a piece from Communicate Magazine which highlights a veritable slew of social media events, publications and workshops that are springing up and taking place over the next month or so – including, if you can credit it, a two-day ‘social media retreat’. At which, apparently, ‘the finest wines are available’.

I think the parallel is there to be drawn. Vive la revolution!

Social Media – The End is Nigh!

In a recent post, I said I was delighted to be the first to announce the beginning of the beginning of the end of social media. Obviously, I was being provocative – and I’ve been inundated with literally no comments at all about my position.

That has not stopped me maintaining my stance, but changing it slightly. Today, blog snorkellers, I am announcing the beginning of the beginning of the end of this round of social media. That’s not to say that there won’t be more, but this lot are definitely on the way out.

Why am I taking this view? Well, partially because my gut tells me it’s true – and as you’ll all know, there’s a big school of thought that says all decisions should be made with the gut – and partially because of this.

Yes, the Times of London – if you summarise the article and extrapolate the messages – doesn’t believe it’s for real either. And the geeky types they’ve got to explain the social media thing are just trotting out the same old, same old nonsense. So, don’t listen to me if you don’t want to – but do read The Times.

Social Media – The ‘Meatloaf Equation’

Sorry. It’s very easy to poke fun and, as I’m the sort of guy who likes ‘easy’, if I get the opportunity, then I will seize it with both hands.

Today I’d like to draw your attention to and an article that was published in January this year entitled ’40 of the best Twitter brands and the people behind them’. You can read it if you like – never say I don’t give you anything.

To cut a long story short because, for some reason, I’m just not that into it today, it doesn’t make edifying reading. In fact, if you look behind the breathless and rather candyfloss tone of the article and examine the numbers, you’ll see that the quantity of followers for each of these brands (the 40 best Twitter brands, mind) is minute. And undoubtedly, there’s quite a lot of effort (even if it’s by one person, in their spare time) going into serving this audience – effort which, simply by the laws of math, isn’t making much in the way of a difference.

Anyway, I recognise that eight months is a long time in social media and there’s been a lot of growth, so – and it’s all my inherent laziness would allow – I picked on one of the 40 best Twitterers (Scott Monty at Ford) and compared followers now, with followers then. Mr Monty is now up to over 25,000 followers, compared to 8,500 in January. Which is roughly a three-fold increase and – on that basis – pretty impressive.

However – and anyone who’s been here before will know that there is always an ‘however’.  Current data says there are 45 million registered Twitter users globally. 10% of that would be 4.5 million. 1% would be 450,000. 0.1% would be 45,000. Ford – and a fair number of the other 40 best – have approximately 0.05% of the available audience. Factor in the statistics for Twitter account usage and attrition and it’s a very, very small number indeed.

It’s an example of the ‘Meatloaf Equation’, which goes something like “Two outta three ain’t bad.” “Yes it is. It’s 66%. It’s crap. A ‘B’ grade at best. Must try harder, boy.”

What’s my point? All that effort put into social media strategies for a possible audience of 25,000. Most of whom are untraceable and leave you with no information about themselves. Many of whom don’t actually exist (in that their accounts lapse as soon as they start them up – the average account, total number of tweets from which is one). And very, very few of whom are going to repay you – for these are brands after all – with a purchase.

’40 of the best Twitter brands and the people behind them’? Self-congratulatory back-slapping for those in the gang. Otherwise – vapid and meaningless.

Social Media – Come Connect With Me

Came across a blog this week – all about social media, social media usage, social media marketing, written by one o’ they new-fangled social media marketing strategy gurus.

At the end of it, he signed off by saying “connect with me on: Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Tumbir, Pownce, Plaxo, Friendfeed or Facebook’.

J*sus H Chr*st, I thought. Who knew there were so many social media sites? (Well, maybe you did, but I’d never heard of Jaiku, Tumbir or Pownce.) Do we need this many? Is it sustainable? What’s the difference between them? How can you keep up with all of them and have any sort of life?

My suspicion is that they’re little more than the result of the social media doughnut being sliced ever-more thinly in order to stretch it out and make it last a little longer.

And the other thing, of course, is – well – that much social media presence. It’s a bit needy, isn’t it? Smacks of real desperation.

Social media: Preposterous before…er…Posterous came along?

Apparently sane person is asked what they consider to be the ‘next big thing’ in social media. (Actually, scratch that ‘apparently sane’ bit – anyone who’s in a position to be asked what they consider to be the blah blah blah is obviously several tweets short of the full nest.) And this person named three potentials – Foursquare, Brightkite and Posterous and another one the name of which I simply couldn’t be arsed to remember which wasn’t, after all, a ‘social medium’ in the true sense, more a CMS. Which, therefore, doesn’t really make it eligible to be the new Twitter. Even I know that.

Anyway, given that I’ve already had a look at Brightkite some time ago and felt that it really had very little to offer (well, it didn’t, go and look for yourself), I thus had two to choose from and I chose Posterous.

Now. If something had been touted to you as the next big thing in social media, you’d expect it to be a bit special, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you? Or is it just me? Yes, of course you would. Well, here it is:

And no, don’t bother, because it isn’t.

Maybe it is me. Maybe I’m missing something. I read another post this morning about the wonderful world and uses of Twitter and how big companies like Dell and Pepsi and Coke…………………hold on a cotton-picking moment. Aren’t they the same three companies that are ALWAYS mentioned whenever someone wants to demonstrate how social media has been used to corporate advantage? Are there no other examples?

I can only draw one conclusion. And it’s the same one. Social media and social media marketing are another minor royal with no clothes on. Not even an Emperor, more a Duke of somewhere not-terribly-important. Posterous – and the acqusition of Friendfeed by Facebook are nothing more than the desperate attempts of those who are making a living from the chimaera to string that living out for a little longer.

Tell me I’m wrong.

Social Media – A Tweet in Time….er….

Some more happy horsedroppings, this time from that venerable organ, the WSJ. Read it here.

On first glance this all seems fine – big names – Ford, Pepsi, Coke etc etc etc – all got a social media presence, all got social media teams, must be important.

Then delve down a bit.

So Ford found that people were complaining about the shutting down of a website. C’mon guys. So what. Is this actually going to affect sales of your cars (because that’s what, as an auto manufacturer, you’re all about and don’t you forget it). No, it’s not. Therefore, all the time that your people spent ‘rectifying the situation’ was, in fact, time wasted.

So Coke found that some guy with 10,000 followers was having difficulty reclaiming a promotion. They fixed it for him. He chaged his avatar to a picture of him with a bottle of Coke. Hot-diggety-dog-dump and a big fat whoop-de-do. Did it sell more Coke? Probably not. Did it impact on this guy’s 10,000 followers? Probably not. Why? because most of those followers don’t actually exist or, if they do, aren’t active. See the link below:

So, Coke, all that time your people spent sorting it out? Wasted.  In fact, the WSJ article is just plain wrong, on many, many different levels. Not least of which is that it reveals that these companies have such desperate cases of Shiny Object Syndrome that they are lashing undoubtedly obscene amounts of money on the salaries and benefits packages of entire teams of ‘social media strategists’.

C’mon. Facebook and Twitter (there’s another thing wrong with this article – gives it the lie in fact – these are the only two social media mentioned) are passing fads. There’s no burgeoning new comms/marketing world being signalled by social media/online social networking. It’s a chimaera. It doesn’t exist – and neither, therefore, does ‘social media strategy’ or, indeed, ‘social media strategists’. Waste of money and several perfectly good workstations.

As an aside, I saw that Dominos Pizza were speaking at a conference recently – one of those that hapless comms and marketing people like us pay oodles of cash to go to on the off-chance we might learn something. And they were there to talk about the issues around employees posting uncontrolled video footage on YouTube and other social media. Talk about shutting the door after the horse had buggered off – and what did anyone think they were going to learn from Dominos, anyway. I was amazed.

Finally for today, may I express my dismay that the digital/social media strategists employed, at great cost, by Coke, appear to have managed to get permission for a group of people to post to social media sites (probably FaceBook and Twitter – as the only ones that anyone really knows) without going through the PR department. Someone could do with talking to Dominos, now I think about it.

I love the smell of impending disaster in the morning, it smells of – hmmm – Meat Feast?  Or is it random brown sugary liquid? I’m not sure………..

Social Media – The Twitter Crack’d 3

Some more research into Twitter and its usage patterns. It’s still not looking compelling, I’m afraid.

Social Media – A New Dotcom Bubble, As If Proof Were Needed

ITV sell Friends Reunited for £145m less than they paid for it. DC Thomson buy it, announce that they plan to make a dating site for the over-50s out of it.

As a service for the hard-of-thinking, in simple terms, this is what it means. ITV paid over £150m for Friends Reunited because they thought they could ‘monetise’ it (to press a curennt buzzword into service). They couldn’t. DC Thomson, being slightly smarter AND with the benefit of some years extra intel, realise that they’ll not be able to sell it as a marketing/advertising opportunity, so look at the ways they can make money from the users of the site. Who happen to be over 50 and – let’s face it – looking for something.

This – and eBay’s experience with Skype (OK, not technically a social network, but reliant on users parting with cash to communicate with each other) – really underlines where we are with social media as a marketing tool. Nowhere. Marketing activity through social media delivers no tangible value – certainly nothing that translates into noticeable uplift in revenues. The ITV/Friends Reunited debacle just shows how futile it is to try and ‘monetise’ – get a sensible, serious and stable revenue stream out of – a social medium.

It is an object lesson. Do not do it.

Oh, I hear you say, but I have no intention of buying and trying to monetise it. No, my social media marketing strategies involve using existing social media channels, and require no investment from me.

Wrong. Every hour you, or your people, spend monitoring Twitter or creating groups on Facebook is time, effort and opportunity cost that would be better dedicated elsewhere.

(Oh, yeah – Twitter – becoming the province of the middle-aged and older. Young people moving away, new research says so. Google it.)