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Social Media is a Waste of Time

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By Jude Brown

Jude Brown is the founder of Piko Marketing. He draws on his wealth of experience in the business world and the public sector to help companies achieve their branding and marketing goals.


I’m a marketer. Marketing can be a simple proposition. Tell brand stories to the audiences who care. In many ways it is that easy.

Sometimes however, it isn’t. Sometimes just establishing a relationship with a new or potential client can be a hurdle. Potential clients, getting inundated with bullsh*t content marketing in every single online forum and channel they visit can do damage. While it can lead to curiosity (when done right) it can also lead to fear, panic, hate and of course the Dark Side.

Let’s face it – marketing as a sector already struggles with a negative perception. We are the people who used to push (and still do) things like cigarettes, booze and any financial scam you can think of. All of these things are sold for one reason and one reason only – profit. Ethics, morality and general common sense aren’t part of these strategic meetings. In fact the key talking point at these meetings is what can we do to trick people into trusting our message? Trust is key.

In my opinion, and this is really saying something, things are getting even worse than they were in the last few decades. Untrustworthy marketers and marketing agencies now have access to huge amounts of personal information and can get it in front of you with little to no effort. Now there are two types of ‘marketers’ (I use the term loosely) that have really started to irritate me as of late. Content Marketing Experts and Social Media Guru’s. These people have no business being in the sector and should be avoided at all costs – here’s why:

  • They don’t care about your story.
  • Ethics and the concept of trust don’t matter to them.
  • They are thinking short term.
  • They don’t care about your or your customers.

Marketing is about telling stories. Have you seen that Coke ad with the guy who almost gets killed pushing a car off the tracks? Ya – I cried too. Coke was about having fun and feeling good. Now they have added doing good and 37 year old men are secretly tearing up at movie theaters across North America.

Yes pop should be banned but that is a great story. That is marketing with a purpose. That is a brand that knows they better stay away from their product because they don’t want to have that discussion. Do you think Coke called in a Social Media Guru or a Content Marketing nerd to explain to them that video can be an effective medium in a variety of channels to meet your demographic? No – they have a marketing department that decided their brand story was going to include some new elements. They went to their agency partners and then they went to work.

In the real world, the one I live in, we don’t have multi-million dollar budgets and every dollar gets counted. This is why I get so upset when one of these slick guru’s shows up and swindles a business out of a few grand for some ‘great’ advice. These ‘experts’ are evangelical in their approach and are happy to promise the world – after all, they jump on a plane after the seminar right?

These people, who are actually technical marketers, will fluster you with the details of their specific channel making you believe that all the technical mumbo jumbo is more important than the actual plan behind (and above) the channel itself. Content Marketers will point to incredible success stories on multiple channels as proof that all you have to do is constantly send content out there. You get so wrapped up in their incredible presentation you forget that content marketing isn’t new and good content costs money.

It isn’t nearly as expensive as shitty content that you just keep pushing because someone told you to. It’s just your brand right? Unless someone is going to potentially miss rent because the advice or direction they are providing is bad – you can’t trust them. Before you start freaking out and quoting all sorts of stats let me hit you with the one that matters: people still trust traditional media more than they trust social media.

Want more? How about this – social media is the LEAST trusted type of media that consumers deal with. More? Social Media is trusted less than traditional media by 18 – 24 year olds (Edelman Trust Index 2013). Oh snap! So next time a guru of any sort tells you to drop everything and open a Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram account – punch them in the face.

So let’s all just take a deep breath and relax. Stop paying attention to the morons who are sending out “5 Must Have Apps for Marketing Success” or “5 Tips to Increase Traffic” or “The 3 Things You Need For Blogging Excellence” or whatever version you see on Facebook and LinkedIn constantly. Turn off the noise.

What next? Grab your big girl pants and get ready to work. If there was one key piece of advice it is to believe. Believe that you are the person who understands your brand and brand objectives better than anyone else. Write that sh*t down somewhere. Figure out – in any way shape or form that makes sense to you – why you (your product/service/etc) matter to the people you want to matter to. Go after them. Make mistakes. Try things.

For the love of all that is good in this world stop waiting for that magic solution that is going to make everything easy. It doesn’t exist.

The name of the game is trust. Companies that figure that out consistently lead in their sectors. The concept of trust is easy – gaining consumer confidence for your brand, people, products, services etc is hard. Anytime someone presents you with the easy way out – just go the other way. Good luck out there!