Social media makes me sad. When I joined Twitter in 2006, it was a terrific experience. I hear people talk about Facebook the same way, back when that platform was the exclusive territory of college students.
What happened? What went wrong?
- Marketers, rather than conversationalists, dominate. Earlier, social media was overwhelmingly a platform for serious discussion of business issues. Today, it is more and more a platform for one-way corporate self-promotion.
- Advertisers, not users, are the true customers. Social platforms manipulate conversation streams to promote paid content. It’s getting harder and harder for users to see what they want to see … and not see what they don’t want to see. As users become disenchanted and frustrated, the discussion and marketing quality of platforms will only decrease.
- Spammers and trolls continue to pollute what’s left of conversation. The spammers are more obnoxious and the trolls are more noxious. We’re in a race to the bottom, and legitimate social media users are the ultimate losers.
- Social media has crowned everyone an expert by facilitating the distribution of false, misleading and incorrect information. In my little world of SEO, I see scores of groundless assertions stated as facts on a daily basis — assertions that, if followed, will worsen rather than improve results.
- Social media is massively overused by marketers, contributing to the content overload problem that is diminishing the marketing effectiveness of content in general. What we need is not more content, but less content. Not more reactions, but more thoughtful reactions.
- Social media marketing remains hard to evaluate, as accurate and meaningful metrics are hard to come by. While it is not necessary for all marketing campaigns to have a tightly calculated ROI, social media, for many businesses, doesn’t even provide companies with a feeling it is helping them. Marketing dollars can be better spent elsewhere.
- Social media is a seductive time suck, a safe virtual haven for people looking for an excuse to avoid the tough, real world of sales, or perhaps the drudgery of running day-to-day operations. Whatever the reason, fiddling around on Twitter all day isn’t going to put a small business on the map. Virtual reality is not reality; the business (and human) implications of our growing virtual addiction are frightening to contemplate.