Social media marketing versus print

Do you Facebook? Flickr? Youtube? Twitter? If so, you’ve probably been invited to become of fan of something utterly shit. Coke, the BMW X5 or Cillit Bang, something like that.

Why would you become a fan of such brands, or follow them on Twitter, or view a Youtube video of the making of the Duffy Coke ad ? If you had half a brain rattling around in your headspace, you wouldn’t, but marketers and advertisers think you do.

And there’s a whole host of social media evangelists, gurus and other assorted charlatans out there ready to convince you that you can sell more spam if only you were to have a Twitter account tweeting out spam recipes and spam-related news.

Here’s an experiment. Tweet a few remarks about Ford. You’ll almost certainly be followed by a few accounts that have something to do with selling cars. This is how the majority of people think social media works, even people within social media.

I’m not a naysayer about social media marketing, but I believe it’s hardly ever done properly. What’s more, I believe the opportunities for a successful social media campaign are few and far between, unless you have a huge amount of cash to wield.

On the flip side, I’ve seen the drop off in print and online media spend – so I’m aware of the limitations in many forms of marketing. TV seems to be reasonably bullet-proof, but the ROI of print and online seems to be on the way down.

I think online ads will get smarter, more targeted and more valuable. But I’m a bit uncertain about print. People are steadily moving away from print, which means less ad revenues, which means fewer journos, which means lower-quality content, which means fewer readers, which means lower ad revenues…

And I think social media campaigns will get better. Right now, most of them are about as subtle as printing a full-size ad in a newspaper that says ‘Drink Coke’. The fault lies in the campaigns, not the platform. Print has the opposite problem.

As social media becomes more sophisticated, it will get much better. And it will. You only have to look at the latest social platforms rolling out across the web like the Wehrmacht to see where the future lies.

So, while I think this ad for a newspaper ad sales department is amusingly accurate in skewering hyped-up social media campaigns, it’s worth remembering that it’s still an advert.