Social Media on the web – When will the bubble burst?


My day-to-day job is always interesting to say the least. I work in an “Agency” atmosphere, where catch phrases, high budgets, high hopes and a lot of other hoo-hah take place on a daily basis. I am, however, a realist. I would prefer you to drop the f-bomb in a meeting if it meant the difference between clarity and shades of grey. It is because of this, that i am constantly mystified by a lot of my fellow agency brethren’s conversations when it comes to the topics of emerging media and the social media space in general. How much bullshit can these people spew before the world wakes up?

social-media The current landscape

Social networking with sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others offer a lot of new tools to the modern marketer’s arsenal. These services allow you to engage with your audience on a personal level – take the campaign into their very lounge room, if you will.

A good social media campaign can bring your customers in close, while at the same time reinforcing their opinions of your product or service being the place to go for their widgets. No longer are you yelling at them to get their attention, but by getting them to engage you’re already well beyond that point – they are listening, you just have to get the story straight.

Social media campaigns are hugely popular at the moment, and there is more than a good reason so. Facebook themselves state that they have 400 million users, 50% of which are active on a daily basis. That is a big pie. Which probably explains why they then state that (source):

Two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites have integrated with Facebook

So as you see, all the cool kids are doing it. Marketers will ask you: “I thought you were one of them?”

The problem

Social media is not new – in fact i would probably say that maybe it is finally coming of age. People are starting to understand its uses outside the teen MySpace generation. Your Nan probably has a profile. Hell, she’s probably been Facebook or Twitter stalking you in the comfort of her slippers and dressing gown, while sipping her morning tea on the computer you gave her for Christmas (time to remove those office Christmas party photos now!).

Its gone mainstream baby!

Given this fact you’d assume that most advertising folk are well versed in what works and what doesn’t. If these were your thoughts, our opinions would differ greatly.

Just because you can add a twitter feed to a site, doesn’t mean you should. Facebook fan pages are not a pre-requisite to your company being it’s best in web 2.0.

If you sell bathroom supplies online it would be my suggestion that the money could be spent better on a tradition type of campaign. Even a fast yelling British guy on the TV at 1am may yield better results.

Why then are so many people getting sucked into this marketing ploy? Why are there so many Generation-Y executives getting paid salaries 20 years ahead of their age bracket simply for being “the young guy” that has all the “answers”?

My hat does come off to them for their efforts, but how many actually are able to follow through on their job description and offer measureable profits or customer stickiness?

As i said earlier i like it straight from the horses mouth all the time. If you going to spend money on engaging the social media market, you need to be very clear on how you are going to measure metrics/stats on the users your aiming at before you step into the ring. You need to be able to account for the spend – but no one seems to be thinking about that. Its like the dot-com bubble all over again.

And if there is one thing we learnt from that era, it is that overcharging for things that amount to mostly vapour can only go on so long.

So when will the bubble burst?