Give it a buzz term, create new jargon full of bollocks to baffle everyone, and what is termed “social media” becomes just more clutter in the online world where good old-fashioned marketing and commonsense becomes a very shallow and opportunistic version like some ponzie scheme made up of promises of a phony second life.
Likes, Views, Followers and rankings on Google Search can be bought, and so, what is created is a very false sense of reality blinded by bullshit and those with squat experience in bona fide marketing been able to fool many for many years- but with this particular “long tail” fast unraveling and many quickly being found out.
As with many things, the music industry, needing to be seen as being on the cutting edge of everything, were the first to hire what were then “digital” armies from all the new companies and websites that had come into being- MySpace, Yahoo, YouTube and later Facebook, then Twitter and now all the followers and copycats of what no one questioned in the early 2000s when technology was so new.
Think about the “overnight successes” of “YouTube sensations” like Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys- apparently “found” on YouTube and immediately signed to music deals- a good background story.
Then, there was the overnight sensation of the “unknown” Susan Boyle who, we were led to believe, the judges on Britain’s Got Talent had never seen before despite there ALWAYS needing a full rehearsal before going out ‘live’. And so this elderly, dowdy Scottish spinster goes out and wows everyone and the judges feign surprise.
Susan Boyle had her own FAN CLUB in the Nineties and had been trying to break into showbiz since she made an appearance on a very early television talent show hosted by the annoying Michael Bentine.
But in those early days of online hype no one “did the maths” and wonder how a television show that went out ‘live’ in the UK managed to get over 10 million views AND made the wire services so that this “unknown” became what came to be known as a “YouTube sensation” and quickly followed by other “YouTube sensations” like Justin Bieber- supposedly “discovered” by Usher when- puhleeeze- trawling the net, Michael Geyson Chance who Ellen DeGeneres gushed over and was going to sign up to her new Eleveneleven record label.
Both never happened and Michael Geyson Chance is always in Asia playing tiny shopping malls.
Today, there are “white hats” and “black hats”, the false “engagement” of Facebook Ads with false “likes” and equally complicated, confusing and misleading “views” coming through YouTube Ads.
On top of this come the open offers to “gain more followers” on twitter with a menu of how many “followers” one can buy depending on how “popular” you want to pretend to be.
Who are those who buy these “likes, views and followers” think they’re fooling except for themselves and the only end game being exposed as a fakir?
However, where “social media” has been caught with its pants down is when all these various platforms have almost become “advertorials” to strengthen their bottom lines and re-energize revenue generators.
Facebook Ads has already been caught and seen to be a scattergun approach where paid-for-ads have gone out to many in the strangest countries to gain more “likes” for subscribers- but, in reality, false “likes” from faceless names that might never even see one’s content, let alone “engage” with it.
It’s obviously fake “views” from places like Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Bangalore etc along with fake comments.
Then there are the YouTube ads which many use to drive views. Dig the URL of those behind these “views” and they have never “viewed” anything else on YouTube- and which it all a pointless exercise.
On top of this mess come the new “Clicky” companies with their roster of advertisers and who can guarantee you “views” for a buffet of various prices by wrapping commercials around your videos.
Here, the tail is wagging the dog as it’s out of your head and into their hands and where videos can be a series of cut-downs where paid-for-ads are wrapped around your butchered content- BUT, you get “views”- “views” based on the ADS and some pre-programed “comments” as bland as those infuriatingly girlie “Thanks for following me, have a great day:)!” replies on twitter.
In advertising, what was drummed into us creative directors is that The Technique Is Not The Idea.
Somewhere along the way, The Technology Became The Idea and everyone followed like lemmings so as not to feel left out and have this sad and false sense of “belonging” while having this “second la vida loca online life”.
Today, for example, one must have the iphone5 though perfectly happy with the iPhone 4 while Apple laugh all the way to the bank and bring out new product after new product though it might just have run its course.
One can only fool all of the people some of the time before they wake up- as many have- to the inner workings of Facebook when this platform’s very existence is based on consumer content- and which they receive free and sell to advertisers.
It’s exactly like the days when music companies once gave all their content for free to MTV.
The then-music channel would say, “Thank You very much” and sell this content to advertisers as “programming”.
As for YouTube, well, after MySpace went tits up by not having some form of “filter system” to separate the wheat from the chaff when it came to new artists, YouTube became the new MTV and the only game in town.
As a channel to check out whatever videos you want, YouTube is brilliant.
Where it’s going VERY wrong is in being a contradiction.
Videos are deleted without any reason given.
Videos that infringe copyright are taken down- but so many more are still up there.
Fake views are, supposedly, not entertained, but other fake views are given a free pass.
Advertising with videos are now driving the channel and, with it, making it the “new medium” with ad agencies looking for a more cost-effective medium than television- and with a greater reach- plus clients, several light years from home and soooo wanting to use this thing called “social media”- but not knowing why- ready, willing and sold on fakeness.
At the end of the day, we have returned to marketing and where only good, smart marketers with commonsense will survive and take over again while those “social media” kiddies and charlatans will continue to sell those easily led on false dreams that lead nowhere other than kidding themselves that they’re liked- that they’re really, really liked like an old Sally Fields Oscar speech.