Monday, June 21, 2010

Social Media - The Clash, The Pimps and The Consumers

So myself and a few others have managed to wrap ourselves up in discussions lately regarding social media, its dress code, interest groups, uses, and the people that use, create, innovate and otherwise shape how we'll all digest the random rambling of our closest group a few million friends and loved ones on Twitter, Facebook and others.

If you're just jumping into the conversation let me start with a quick over of the homework you'll need to read to prepare for today's lesson. It all started with a friend of mine @allusagirl re-tweeting a link to a blog from @mikeschaffer entitled "Social Media, Put Some Damn Pants On". (read here first) It was this blog that stirred my semi-pigheaded and slightly over the top ranting reply which I antagonistically entitled "Social Media, Take Your Damn Pants Off!". Finally, we're arrived at this morning when Mike wrote another blog called "A Social Media Culture Clash?" in which he discusses the differing aspects of social media for 2 groups he calls the "Techies" and the "Marketers" and poses a few questions:

Do you see a split in social media? How can we unite all sides of the industry?  Can we all work together…or are the philosophical differences just too great to overcome?
 Here's where it starts to get difficult for me. As much as I'd love to respond to the people encouraging me to give my opinion on his questions; I just don't think its possible. Instead, I pose a separate question and I'll even arrogantly answer myself! :-P

Do we even WANT to unite both sides? and "both" is that the right term, are there only 2 sides? I tend to thing there's a lot more. Make no mistake, I 100% completely agree with Mike that there is a bit of an online battle going on and its transitioned from online country to country slowly eating up and marring the shiny pure finish of every new technology and platform that's out there. Hell, even social media's reason for being is a debate depending solely on perspective.

Social media sites and their owners want to sell ad space, users want to post 2,482 pictures of their friends, vendors and businesses want us to buy their products...... there are artists looking to become stars, single people looking for love (in all the wrong places), employers looking for their next million dollar baby.... and of course, the newest addition to the fight marketing and PR firms... the "pimps" of the whorish social media world. The group that's always trying to see you something, trying to get you to look their way... they've tried direct marketing, telemarketing, pop up adds, e-mail campaigns, buying Google listing, and now social media is simply the new battleground for them to wage war on consumers.

We started throwing out your junk mail, not listing our phone numbers, we added pop-up blockers to just about every web browers written or used by anyone with over a 5th grade education, we labeled your Google listing as "Sponsored", we invented "SPAM filtering" to catch your e-mails, and of course.... we've even come up with web browser extensions like adblock plus to hide you silly little ad boxes on just about any site we visit.

What's left, well.... looks like Twitter is still neutral uncontrolled ground! Have you ever tweeted about how much you hate All State, or how much you REALLY love M&M's and next thing you know you're being followed by @esurance or being invited to vote on color choices by @mmsgreen?! That's them, the jackals of the social media animal planet.... wait for you to show your weakness, and pounce!

So I guess for now, the battle wages on..... we create new ways to share our lives and keep in touch, and they keep finding ways to jump in and try to sell us something with it!

To answer the most important question from Mike's blog "Can we all work together?"..... No. Its always been us against them, and as long as we have money to spend, and they have things to sell us..... the suit wearing pimps of the marketing world will always find ways to put it in front of us.


  1. So, I guess I'm a pimp! Cool!

    I understand that consumers are wary of marketing folks. Are we trying to sell you something, be it a product, idea or brand? Sure.

    Honestly, though, whenever you engage in communication with ANYONE, be it a friend, neighbor or nagging mother, they are also trying to sell you on their ideas. So cut us some slack in that department, please.

    Also consider that the Pimps are also "selling" information on non-profits, service and needed items. In a decade in the industry, I've never seen or heard of an evil plot to screw customers. The vast majority of businesses are looking to keep customers happy!

    So, we've got the Techies, the Markekters and the Consumers trying to connect with friends. And everyone is like sharks smelling blood, for various reasons.

    Maybe we can't all get along, but what about finding some common ground to stand on and co-exist peacefully?
    - @mikeschaffer

  2. Hahahaha, yes... a pimp you are.... and I guess in this case you can consider all of your tweets kind of like a "e-pimp slap"!

    I have to say, I don't give you enough credit (but I'll fix that)... you're right, most of the time people communicate in general is to sell an idea, earn sympathy, stir a reaction... I guess we're all in the marketing business a bit, only most of us have smaller audiences with tiny returns.

    I do also agree that there are some AMAZING benefits to marketing on social media as you listen, non-profits, getting the word out on relief efforts, as well as just plain amusement to brighten up your day.

    I guess ultimately its a glass half full/glass half empty situation... either Consumers, Techs, Businesses and the Marketing people that bind us together are diametrically opposed in function with goals leading in different directions, or we're all standing right next to each other basically bank and forth the information, platforms, products and cash we all need to survive in each of our respective worlds.

    However, that sounds like a discuss we need to be standing on the common ground of a pub floor to have. Philosophy and Utopia have always been best to debate over beer for me!

  3. First I want to say I enjoyed reading your blog and I rarely reply to blogs but here are my thoughts:

    I agree that marketers do have to be careful about how their market is reached...I think that is why social media is a refreshing novelty. As Mike mentioned sometimes it is not just about pushing a product but it is about pushing ideas. Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is the best way to promote pretty much anything. Guess what? Social Media is one very large mouth! So it is not just about the ads, it is about the people.

    As you mentioned, you can rant or, even better, praise companies on Twitter, which is instantly displayed to your followers who can then retweet and pass the message along. The reach of this viral marketing is extremely extensive and more reliable because it comes from someone you trust. On Facebook ads can be targeted to demographics that would be receptive to that product…it might not be relevant for you to have an ad about DSW’s summer wedges sale displayed on the left hand side of your Facebook screen. (I am not affiliated with DSW, by the way, but as a consumer would definitely promote them!)

    I think that right now the etiquette of using social media for marketing is a gray area. There is a lot of learning the rules as you go. Maybe you are right, we may never get along but we will always coexist. But sometimes you have to appreciate the things you love to hate :)