I was at a funeral the other day. A group of us were sharing memories of the deceased. Talking about her laugh, how mean she could be, how we never told her that we loved her.
Suddenly, a stranger walked over to us in the graveyard and said, “Friends, have you tried the great taste of the Big Kahuna Burger? With its mouthwatering blend of herbs and spices, you’re sure to have a Big Kahuna Day! High-five me if you agree!”
Needless to say, we each gave him a high-five in the face and spent the rest of the week telling everyone how crappy Big Kahuna are.
That’s where we are with Social Media Marketing today. The Prophets told us that “Markets Are Conversations” – but, somehow, the people doing the marketing didn’t realise that conversations are bi-directional.
Part of the problem is just laziness. Vice magazine have done an excellent round up of all the faux-interactive marketing messages which are being pumped out by major companies every day.
The other part is that we don’t like our private and personal spaces invaded by those we haven’t invited. We use Facebook to woo, to reminisce, to love, to share, to play, and to argue – and we do it all with our friends and family. So when a brand tries to muscle in on that conversation, it cheapens the experience and makes us angry. Properly angry.
Go up to a couple kissing in the park, or a parent playing with their child, and start talking to them about the benefits of of a cordless drill and see how long it is before they tell you to piss off. Why should it be any different online?
Actually, online it’s far worse; your positive message can be fatally undermined by the people you have angered.
Take this example from Tom Tom on Facebook.
It’s unbelievably lazy (and sexist) and it doesn’t fit in with a social network. Unsurprisingly, users revolted. Below are a selection of comments left by angry users. Each one visible to anyone commenting on the advert. Warning – some strong language ahead.
I’ve trimmed out a number of people who engaged positively with the advert – no doubt sharing their sentiment with their friends.
Is this what social marketing is? Shoe-horning your tone deaf messages into personal spaces? Ignoring the conversation? Refusing to acknowledge to legitimate complaints? Subjecting social media managers to a torrent of vile abuse?
James Whatley has asked some really important questions about how advertising will work in social spaces. I think he’s missed the most important question of all – what do you do when people start rejecting your advertising and begin to sabotage your message?