losing_faith_in_social_media

Losing Faith in Social Media

Up until now, I’ve been billing myself as a social media specialist. I’ve worked as a social media manager, and I’ve done some consulting work in social media for small businesses.

But the truth is, I am losing faith in social media.

Lately, I’ve felt that social media is used far too much for marketing; it’s turned into an echo chamber (especially Facebook); and its value for providing engaging content has dwindled.

Social Media Marketing

I have written about social media marketing on this very blog. It has been, after all, my métier! But while I practiced social media marketing in my professional life, I find myself being put off by it in my personal life.

Ads are everywhere.

Every time I log into Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram now, I am faced with ads. This, of course, is completely to be expected! How else are these platforms going to make money to develop for their users? But what irks me is the way advertising is done.

Facebook right-hand column ads are notoriously bad. Twitter “promoted tweets” are hardly better. Instagram’s sponsored images are, at least, a little less annoying, since the images are usually nice. But for the most part, the ads are tacky, tasteless, and irrelevant–or worse, tastelessly relevant (one particularly badly timed ad for baby clothes showed up after I had had a miscarriage).

To be fair, that’s mostly because the people advertising have no idea what they’re doing, or how to target their ads. It’s no wonder management are constantly doubting the ROI potential of social media advertising.

Most brands get it wrong.

Then there are the brands that pay so that their content shows up in my newsfeed. There are very few brands that inspire enough enthusiasm for consumers to actively engage with them. Nike and others are the exception to the rule.

For the most part, the promos, Facebook contests, and “relaxed language” that brands try to use in social media fall very flat. It’s artificial, forced, and awkward. All things that are poison to social media users.

The Echo Chamber

This mainly applies to Facebook, due to their filtering practices. As soon as you like one or two baby pictures, wedding announcements, or articles of a feminist nature, that is all that you see in your newsfeed.

Just because I got married, had a kid, and have feminist sympathies, does not mean that I want to see only wedding shots, baby photos and articles about why the heating in my workplace is inherently sexist.

Looking at my Facebook feed, you’d think that breastfeeding mothers are being expelled from dining establishments all across North America. I can tell you that I’ve been breastfeeding in public on a regular basis for more than nine months (and in more than five countries!) and no one has ever asked me to cover myself up or nurse my child elsewhere.

The algorithm of boredom

It seems like Facebook is targeting content at me based on what its algorithms think will delight, incense, outrage, move, and otherwise scintillate me.

On the contrary, I now find Facebook extremely boring. It’s a sad, uninteresting person who only wants to hear their own ideas and opinions shouted back at them. There is no back and forth, no debate (I don’t count people hurling insults at each other and spewing vitriol as debate), and very little room for thoughtful interaction.

I’d much rather have a face-to-face conversation over a coffee, than kill even 5 minutes on Facebook.

So what does that make me?

I’ve called myself a social media specialist. I’ve maneuvered myself into this niche of online content marketing. And yet I find it boring.

The one social media platform I enjoy spending any time on is Instagram, and that’s because my closest loved ones are there. I keep my profile private, and share moments of joy from my daily life with those I love best.

But other than that, I’m over Facebook, Twitter, and the lot. So what do I do now? Career change? I can’t very well market myself as a social media expert when I spend very little of my own time there.

Well for the moment, I cannot be said to have a career. I’ll just have to continue writing (which I do like), trying to read broad and varied content, and keeping up my knitting, which is a great way to meet new, and interesting people.

Is there any way I can make meeting people through crafts my career? Any ideas?

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Amy’s Baking Company Goes Ballistic UPDATED

If you’ve been on Facebook (or the internet, for that matter) today, you probably heard about Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona and how they went absolutely bat-shit crazy on social media.  They were featured on Gordon Ramsey’s American version of his show: Kitchen Nightmares, and boy was it EVER a nightmare.  Read on to learn why the internet exploded with fascinated delight at the train wreck, as Amy’s Baking Company went ballistic.

Amy's Baking Company
Owners Samy & Amy

It started back in 2010 when a local food lover decided to give “ABC” a go on a Saturday.  He wrote a review of his experience on Yelp, and let’s just say it wasn’t glowing.  I linked to Yelp just there, but because of the enormous volume of reviews that have been posted since this fiasco began, here is where you can read the original 2010 review that sparked Amy’s first tirade.

Yeah, if you read it, Amy Bouzaglo actually did call her reviewer “ugly” and a “moron”.  But if you think that’s bad…

Gordon RamseyEnter Gordon Ramsey.

Known for his foul-mouthed straight-talking, Ramsey is famous for telling failing restaurant owners exactly what’s wrong.  He does not mince words.  Considering her track record of receiving criticism somewhat poorly (to put it mildly), it’s amazing Bouzaglo invited Ramsey in in the first place.

If you watched even a glimpse of the video clip linked to above, you can imagine that things turn sour mighty quick.  The entire show was a fiasco, and for the first time in one of his television programs, (SPOILER ALERT) Ramsey actually gave up and walked out on a restaurant.

The show aired on Friday, 10 May.  Cue: The it-shay itting-hay the an-fay.

It began with a post to their Facebook wall protesting the accusation that they withhold employees’ tips.  If you visit their Facebook page now, you won’t see everything else that went on, because it has all been deleted.  BuzzFeed does a pretty good job of summing it up (and those are real screen shots of posts they actually made – I saw them myself earlier today).

Facebook RantWhat went on?  Ranting, raving, LOTS OF ALL CAPS, invocations of God’s support, defensive responses (in once choice response they called the commenter a “slut”), and sheer madness.  They blew up at Yelp and at Reddit (thread now taken down).  Kelly Clay at Forbes very helpfully drew some social media lessons for brands out of the whole experience.

But I would argue that another lesson could be drawn from this: This is sheer GENIUS!

Amy’s Baking Company has gone viral.  People who have never set foot in Arizona are writing reviews on Yelp.  They reached an enormous TV audience with the show, not to mention they set Reddit alight.  Some commenters and reviewers are even saying they actually want to go eat at the place to see if the owners are really as insane as they seem.

And that’s why this is genius.  They say no publicity is bad publicity, and if these people are smart (that’s a big if) they’ll recognize this as a golden opportunity.  I’ve heard of restaurants that are known for an “act”: a tyrannical manager, perhaps, who entertains the guests with his belligerence, or (more banal) singing wait staff.

They’ve already got the publicity, now they just need to milk it.  If they embrace the crazy and really go whole hog, they may actually carve a niche for themselves – but only if the quality of the food makes up for the terrible dining experience.

I say go for it, Amy and Samy.  If it was all an act: well done, keep it up!  If it was real: God help you, but don’t change.  You’ve dug Amy’s Baking Company into a hole and you’re so far in you might as well just keep digging.

 

Update, Friday 17 May 2013

If you head over to ABC’s Facebook page, you’ll see that they’ve announced a grand re-opening on Tuesday, 21 May at which they plan to tell their side of the story.  I get the feeling that things are just going from bad to worse.  Have fun digging to China!

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