Social Media Doesn’t Have to Be This Way


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Six years ago, I began a love affair with the potential that social media could offer.

While I’d been online for much longer, meandering from blogging to forums and gaming, it was only when I started really getting into what MySpace, Facebook and Twitter offered that I saw something bigger than just talking about random stuff.

I saw the opportunity for everyone to truly have a platform to share from. I saw the opportunity for business to both understand and connect better with their audience.

But most of all, I saw a medium that would finally negate the crappy jobs that people and businesses were doing when it came to being honest and transparent, because now there was a viable way to cross-check the shit and converge on the real.

Yet for all that potential, here we are, six years later, and that potential seems to be fighting a losing battle in the war of attrition for eyeballs and attention.

Social Media Used to Be More Than This

Recently, I posted two articles that looked at the BS metric of standalone reach, as well as (the lack of) transparency in social media. These posts had been brewing on my mind for a little while, as more and more examples of crappy methods and the people behind them come to the fore.

I thought they may have been isolated examples, but as comments on the posts as well as discussions elsewhere proved, there’s a growing malaise forming in social media circles. People are getting tired of BS, and finding more instances of this numbing state of affairs now that the rose-coloured blinkers have come off.

These are just some of the examples in recent weeks – if you go back a few months, there are more to be found where the wheels seem to be coming off the potential of social media, and are being replaced by retreaded tires masquerading as profound content and authenticity.

Why? Why are we throwing away such an opportunity for true change and growth? Is it really in exchange for easy eyeballs and links to our content? Does “success in social media” truly equate to numbers of followers, fans, subscribers and having a higher social score than others in your niche?

Social Media Doesn’t Need to Be This Way

As we see more examples of questionable practices coming to the fore, the net effect is that they’re essentially saying it’s okay to be false. If you want to be someone, or a successful business, be either an ass or a fake.

Which is sad, since social media can be so much more.

As these examples above and many more like them show, success can come without faking it. Success can come by being real. Success can come by building small armies to do great things.

Simply put, success can come without the need to link bait for traffic, buffer numbers, bandwagon jump and similar.

If you’re still not sure about the dilution process that social media is going through at the moment, ask yourself this question:

When someone asks you what you do, or you’re attempting to convince a new client or business the value of social media. do you get a questioning stare and a smile that says, “Yeah, right”?

My guess is you do. Many times.

Until we counter this crap that seems to be pervading social at the minute with real work; real results; real numbers; and real honest-to-goodness quality, that look and smile will continue.

And no-one likes to be questioned and laughed at for too long. Do they?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown is partner at Bonsai Interactive Marketing, a full service agency offering integrated, social media and mobile marketing solutions. He is also founder of the 12for12k Challenge, a social media-led charity initiative connecting globally and helping locally.


  1. Danny, I’ve been watching and researching the social movement since 2007. I believe it in as a force for change for consumers and businesses. I’ve said it’s one of the most important trends I’ve seen in my 15 years in the “customer” business.

    But when I sat down to write an article “Is Social Software the Cure for Business as Usual?” and found it quite challenging to get a clear answer to why business leaders should pay attention. Some companies get value, others try and struggle, and still others never bother. The potential is there, but seems hard to reach.

    The enthusiasm of the social media consultants and vendors is part of the problem. You’re experiencing the downside of the “hype cycle” that Gartner uses to describe how an idea that grabs attention reaches the “peak of inflated expectations” and then heads to the “trough of disallusionment” before maturing into a “plateau of productivity.”

    I think social media has peaked and is heading downward because like all “bubbles” it has failed to live up to expectations that were set too high.

    Now the game is different. Social media proponents that wish to stay in the game need to adjust their approach and show more specifically how it will improve business results. One way to do that is to present more positive case studies. Aside from a few big brands or well-known social celebrities, I rarely see examples of how social is being adopted and generating value for “everyday” businesses, big and small. I’d certainly welcome these stories on CustomerThink.

    One other thought — I don’t think it will help the cause to “call out” the social gurus for not being social, inflating their follower counts, etc. This sort of squabble in public won’t help the industry; it will just give business people another reason to not engage and learn. Take the high road and build a following based on real social media success.

    Or, as you said it better: “Until we counter this crap that seems to be pervading social at the minute with real work; real results; real numbers; and real honest-to-goodness quality, that look and smile will continue.”


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