July 24, 2014

Why Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

You've probably noticed that about 93% of all TV commercials are lousy.

And so are about the same percent of movies, TV shows, books, songs, and paintings.

If you think all this crappy stuff is around because people aren't trying very hard, you're wrong. The reason is actually quite simple: Producing good stuff is really, really hard. And there are very few people who can do it.

Nobody sets out to create a crappy TV spot or a crappy book or a crappy song. They just turn out that way.

Creative talent is a very rare and very precious commodity. Not everyone has it. As a matter of fact, hardly anyone has it.

That's why really good creative people -- whether singers, writers, actors, or even ad bozos -- often make a lot of money.

Fortunately, most of us don't think of ourselves as singers, writers, painters and actors. So the quantity of really shitty "art" is self-limiting. This is not the case, however, in social media.

Everyone thinks he's a capable social media creator. Believe it or not, there are actually more English language blogs in the world than there are English language native speakers.

If you're wondering why your blog, or your Facebook page, or your Twitter feed, or your "compelling" content, or your "viral" video is laying around like a dead lox, it's not hard to figure. In order to be interesting, social media requires creativity -- just like movies, TV shows, music, and writing.

Without creativity, nobody gives a shit. The world is full of dull opinions, almost-funny banter, and dreary monographs.

Your social media strategy doesn't suck because Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs can't reach people. It sucks because you're stuffing it with crap that no one is interested in.

Creativity is the ability to be interesting, funny, or different. It's easy to be interesting, funny or different at lunch. It's a thousand times more difficult to do it on a page.

Very few people are capable of this. If you want to have one of the rare social media endeavors that actually makes a difference, you better find yourself someone to execute it who is highly creative.

And, take my word for it, it ain't that social media guy with the Powerpoint.

July 23, 2014

Twitter Giving Up On Social Media Marketing?

Here at The Ketel One Executive Center of The Ad Contrarian Global Headquarters, we've been saying for some time that:
a) The delusion of social media marketing is rapidly evaporating
b) Social media sites are morphing into channels for carrying traditional paid advertising as fast as they possibly can
There are three reasons for this
1) Consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands"
2) Consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands"
3) Did I mention that consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands?"
If you need proof of this, click on over to your Facebook page and see if you can find a conversation about a brand. What you'll find is a festival of paid advertising.

While the dim bulbs in the marketing industry spent 5 years exhorting us to "join the conversation" actual human beings were thinking "what fucking conversation?"

So the lovely fantasy of consumers carrying our marketing water for us by going online to extol the virtues of our mittens, mayonnaise, and motor oil has gone all sour.

Facebook saw the light and stopped pretending to be a vehicle for social media marketing. They became a born-again old-school paid advertising channel. As one Facebook executive put it to Time magazine...
“…if businesses want to make sure that people see their content the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising.”
If I may take the liberty of translating the above sentence, here's what the Facebook guy was trying to say:
"We can't make a nickel off this social media bullshit, but we can have a nice juicy steak dinner selling some good ol' fashioned paid ads."
Of course Facebook's rival, Twitter, is drooling.

Having seen what Facebook's stock price did once Facebook stopped living in new-age never-never-land and started seriously selling real ads, Twitter wants a slice.

But first they have to figure out how to convince people -- especially marketers and investors -- that they are not what they said they were.

The problem is that marketers and investors love the idea of social media but hate the reality of it. They want to see real money from real ad sales. Not hot air about "conversations."

And so Twitter is now on a mission to convince the world that they are not really a social network.

According to The Wall Street Journal last week...
"Executives hope to shift the perception of Twitter from a social network to a broadcast platform"
A broadcast platform? But hold it. Isn't broadcast dead?

The only question now is how long it will take the cement-heads in agencies and marketing departments -- who are still gorging on empty calories at the social media buffet -- to figure out what the hell is going on.

July 21, 2014

Technology And Consumer Behavior

Last week I gave a talk at a national real estate conference. What do I know about real estate? As I told the conference, the only real estate transaction I ever made a nickel on was when my house burned down. 

Putting the talk together, however, gave me an opportunity to clarify some thoughts I've had about the relationship between technology and consumer behavior. Here's an edited excerpt from the talk:

Technology has changed our lives. It has changed the way we live, the way we do business… it has brought us new and useful tools for our companies, and it has simplified a lot of our daunting tasks.

But there is an untold story of the digital age. It is the remarkable degree to which consumer behavior has remained stable in light of a revolution in technology, communication, and media.

Technology has had an enormous impact on our industries and our companies. And we naturally assume that it has had a similar impact on consumer behavior. I'm not so sure. Just because technology has changed what we do so much, doesn't mean it has changed what they do so much.

Marketers are resolutely attached to the belief that new technology invariably leads to large-scale disruptions in consumer behavior. My purpose this morning is to present you with a different point of view. 

In addition to my advertising career, I also spent a few years as a science teacher, and one year as a special assistant to the Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences.

Being around science practitioners gave me a healthy repect for the difference between a fact and an opinion. So for this talk we are going to dispense with the immoderate opinions and assertions of many in my industry, and talk about facts.

Here are 7 marketing and media facts you may find interesting:
1. E-commerce in the US accounted for only 6% percent of total retail sales in the 1st quarter of this year. 94% of retail activity is still done in a store.

2. Contrary to the confident predictions of all our media experts, over the past few years TV viewing has reached its highest point in history.

3. The average American spends over 7 times as much time watching TV as she does on line.

4. Only 8% of video viewing is playback from a video recorder. 92% of TV viewing is done live.

5. Since 2011, when mobile devices like tablets and smart phone took off, the media device that has suffered the worst decline is not TV or radio, it is the personal computer. In fact, between 2011 and 2013 time spent online with personal computers dropped at 7 times the rate of TV.

6. Notwithstanding all the hype about mobile commerce, in 2013 commerce on a smart phone accounted for less than ¼ of 1% of total retail activity.

7. Despite all the hyperventilating about the web replacing television, 97% of all video viewing is still done on a TV. Only 3% is done online.
So what are we to make of these facts?

The conclusion I have drawn — one that I have come to often in my career — is that marketers almost always overestimate consumers' appetite for new things, and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior. 
And now for the sales pitch. If you're having a sales meeting, conference, or other business event, and you need some speakers that won't bore the shit out of your attendees with the same old bullshit, Type A can help. Here are some "reviews" from last week's talk:
If you want info about having Type A at your event, contact us here. Thanks.