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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Survival of the Fittest... but what if they're n00bs?


Social Media (in a communicative sense) such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and even this (Blogger) have a lot of potential for advertising, self promotion and business in general. However, there are pitfalls to social media, if used incorrectly - after all, people are people, and sometimes, people suck.

(For the record, I am aware that that last link is fake news. But it's so believable, I think it proves the point).

For all that I have said previously about how fame is easy to enhance but difficult to create online, that does not mean it is impossible, (after all, these guys managed to get themselves a TV show merely by acting crazy over the internet). By plugging in with their fans, celebrities can build a type of rapport that would normally be impossible - in fact, some celebrities have gained as much fame through their blogs and other social media tools than through their actual day to day professions.


But while there are lots of opportunities, there are also many possible pitfalls that can be stumbled over, (pun completely intended).

Blogs have become a sort of company standard, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Blogs owned by companies are usually viewed with a fair degree of skepticism (at least, I believe so). A good way to judge is by looking at the comments: why do large, multinational companies posting consistently on blogs tend to have almost no comments? It's because people expect that these blogs are more like "Advertisements," cleverly (or not so cleverly) disguised. A few companies, (e.g. most sports related websites) do not simply write their own "official" blogs, but instead offer up a few different analysts to provide differing viewpoints, as well as allowing fans of the site to host their own blogs - instead of being simply an advertisement, it is validated through inclusion.

Just be aware, however, that things posted on blogs too often get plagiarized, sometimes by what seem like otherwise legitimate people and companies. Too often, I have seen something taken off a blog and passed off as fact on actual NEWS sites. Just because the information exists, does not always mean it is true - it only seems more valid because it is now from a source that does not stand to gain personally.

(fade in) Now we'll get onto the newer fads among advertisers - namely, social networking sites, such as Facebook (we'll ignore Myspace for now - the sheer amount of Myspace pages created by musicians starving for attention would be enough to warrant their own post). While for the most part, Facebook advertising is limited to small ads down the side, most of which serve mainly to annoy those who log in (for example, my Facebook account chronically posts only two types of ads: Find a job, or Find a girl. Thanks Lavalife...), others go with the Applications route (sign up and take surveys and we will give you x amount of in-game money) - while I have tried some of these previously, for the most part, they come to a screeching halt when it comes down to either giving away a credit card number or a phone number. In the end, most are content to merely open groups and have people join or "become a fan" (with neither option actually offering anything more substantial than a sign-up).

Savvier marketers (i.e. those who would attempt the Nigerian Letter scam) have created a new type of scam, known as "The Facebook Scam" (COPYRIGHT PENDING!!!) The emergence of this type of thing leads me to believe that Facebook advertising will go the same way as direct to email advertising - it had potential, but was/is/will be ruined by spammers who think they see an opportunity. Besides, people have enough problems with Facebook already.


This is already running long, so I'm going to talk about the fastest type of Social Media tool - microblogs! Twitter would be the main example here - something that, like Facebook, updates your status... but that's about it. It's a running diary of your life, for better or worse. Unfortunately, many people seem to think that this is a sort of private affair, and really... it's not. It's on the internet. People can see it, and believe you, me, companies and clients can see it. If you post something, make sure it is something that you could say to any client to their face, and not something like this. Possibly the most ironic part was that that guy was hired to be an online consultant...



It's not all bad, though - those microblogs can also be used by your fans to promote your product (though the results may vary...). Burger King and Wendy's are finding out now that their advertisements could be parodied and that the results may not be in the brand's best interests (but closing it down would be a terrible PR hit, which is possibly even worse). But hey, if any publicity is good publicity, then all the better, because in this age of Social Media, I think companies will have to understand that they cannot control the flow of information anymore - their brands, ads and products will be judged, parodied and ridiculed as often as they are praised: it's a jungle out there, and survival of the fittest seems as good a slogan as any.


  1. I don't understand why people write fake news about stupid things. Seems really dumb to me.

  2. ^_^ The Onion makes a living off of it.

    I think the point is to parody how it almost seems plausible enough to be real news, to show how dumb real news actually is.

    But that's just a guess.