Comments and observations on business, marketing and life: by Martin Donohoe

Tag: social media

Social media – villain or hero?

Given recent events in the UK (that’ll be the riots) there is a whole meme developing that social media was the catalyst for the riots. Plenty of commentary has been done on this already such as this article. Yet, on the flip side social media has been positioned as community saviour with the #riotcleanup movement.

Go back to the beginning of the year and social media was a force for global democracy with the Arab Spring.


What do we make of Twitter, Facebook, BBM and the rest? Clearly, there is an opportunity to get deep into the communication of groups and the transmission of ideas, but I think the answer is simple. Fundamentally, social media is just a method of communicating. Yes, it’s possible to scale that communication quickly and yes, it facilitates rapid propagation of a message. But no, social media is not inherently good or bad, it is just a tool. To paraphrase:

Social media doesn’t spread ideas, people spread ideas (just not as quickly)




Is Twitter value added?

A colleague tells me that “Twitter is just a bunch of marketing people shouting at each other”. Whilst this isn’t entirely true in my experience, there are certainly a lot of marketing and media people who use Twitter and some of the threads read very much as a private club discussion.

Having said that, there are plenty of examples of Twitter working for a wider audience and certainly in the UK there have been several high-profile twitter campaigns over things that have appeared in the media. But the question is, what evidence exists to show that having and using a Twitter account helps the average UK business?

  • Does it help with customer communication?
  • Does it generate sales?
  • Does it have other benefits, like helping with seo campaigns?

To put it another way, using Twitter might be one of the latest ‘nice to have’ marketing initiatives, but is it really making any impact and would the time be better spent on other, less exciting marketing & sales activities?

‘Let us know what you think’

It might just be me, but increasing numbers of tv adverts have a strap line that includes something along the lines of ‘let us know what you think’ or ‘join in the debate at’. But for my money, any brand going out and asking consumers is kind of missing the point of social media and user engagement.

Take the current Kingsmill bread campaign for example, it’s positively cringeworthy. Forced examples of ‘Kingsmill Confessions’ are trotted out with an invitation to send in your confessions. I think most people would agree that the confessions to date smack of marketing invention versus true customer stories. If you go and visit the website, the confessions on there are simply boring. But to be fair, making mass-produced bread a buzz product is a particularly tall order! I do however love the same print on the footer of the site:

Whilst Kingsmill welcomes all confessions we would remind confessors that Kingsmill is a family-friendly site and anything that is deemed offensive will be deleted by the moderation team.

That seems to kill off the hope that there’ll be any truly interesting confessions…

In broad terms, the best social media campaigns have had at most, a slight push from a marketing team. If a product or service needs a multi-million campaign to get people to say something about it, then surely that means it isn’t remarkable or worthy of talking about in the consumer’s mind?

Bottom line, too much marketing department generated social media stands out like a beacon to the average consumer. Go and do something genuinely exciting or innovative and you won’t have to ask, cap in hand, ‘let us know what you think’.

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