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?

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

118 comments
DannyBrown
DannyBrown

alexwittchen Thanks, Alex, glad you enjoyed and appreciate the share, miss :)

cendrinemedia
cendrinemedia

Hello @DannyBrown,

Great article. This reminds of the stat regarding self-proclaimed social media experts on Twitter (over 180,000). 

I don't understand what people don't get about social media. They talk about ROI before talking about people. They talk about results before focusing on strategy. It's like they completely forget the basics as soon as they are hidden behind their computer screens. 

As you said, social media doesn't have to be that way. 

cendrinemedia
cendrinemedia

Hello @DannyBrown, Great article. This reminds of the stat regarding self-proclaimed social media experts on Twitter (over 180,000).  I don't understand what people don't get about social media. They talk about ROI before talking about people. They talk about results before focusing on strategy. It's like they completely forget the basics as soon as they are hidden behind their computer screens.  As you said, social media doesn't have to be that way.

penneyfox
penneyfox

Always a great conversation when I stop in here. This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about marketing to the Gen X crowd. As Darryl Roberts from Wine X Magazine so eloquently puts it, “ … unlike the Boomers before us, we have a BS meter more sensitive than any seismograph. During the years we were watching Saturday-morning cartoons, we were assaulted by a barrage of advertising so intense it had to be addressed by federal legislation.”

Sometimes social media makes me feel this way, like I'm being bombarded and it just makes my head hurt.  I just want to crawl into my personal little blog that I almost never promote and just live in that world. 

penneyfox
penneyfox

Always a great conversation when I stop in here. This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about marketing to the Gen X crowd. As Darryl Roberts from Wine X Magazine so eloquently puts it, “ … unlike the Boomers before us, we have a BS meter more sensitive than any seismograph. During the years we were watching Saturday-morning cartoons, we were assaulted by a barrage of advertising so intense it had to be addressed by federal legislation.” Sometimes social media makes me feel this way, like I'm being bombarded and it just makes my head hurt.  I just want to crawl into my personal little blog that I almost never promote and just live in that world.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

patricia_haag Thanks Patricia, seeing some great discussions around that piece :)

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

Hi Danny,

I'm just a small business owner who fell in love with blogging … to point where it consumed me, a wee bit too much. This is definitely reflected in the tone of some of my more recent posts. 

It took me that long to get to the nuts and bolts of it all. It really is surprising what you find the more you dig. Or maybe not, considering human nature ;)

I generally ignore some of blogging's top dogs, and try to accentuate the positive, but after 1.5 years on the social web I can understand why you've written a piece like this. I can certainly get behind the "beyond buzz and into results" message. And there sure as hell is a ton of bullshit out there and people doing their best to game the system.

Also, I can really get behind what Pam wrote: "Building a community takes time and investment. Purchasing fake fans is cheating, unethical and wrong." I completely agree with that and honestly wonder why anyone would want fake fans. 

Me? I still don't know crapola, but I learn every day from wise people like you. And guess what? My business is growing like never before :) Maybe in another 1.5 years I can fill more than a thimble with my knowledge.

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

Hi Danny, I'm just a small business owner who fell in love with blogging … to point where it consumed me, a wee bit too much. This is definitely reflected in the tone of some of my more recent posts.  It took me that long to get to the nuts and bolts of it all. It really is surprising what you find the more you dig. Or maybe not, considering human nature ;) I generally ignore some of blogging's top dogs, and try to accentuate the positive, but after 1.5 years on the social web I can understand why you've written a piece like this. I can certainly get behind the "beyond buzz and into results" message. And there sure as hell is a ton of bullshit out there and people doing their best to game the system. Also, I can really get behind what Pam wrote: "Building a community takes time and investment. Purchasing fake fans is cheating, unethical and wrong." I completely agree with that and honestly wonder why anyone would want fake fans.  Me? I still don't know crapola, but I learn every day from wise people like you. And guess what? My business is growing like never before :) Maybe in another 1.5 years I can fill more than a thimble with my knowledge.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

TheReluctantSC Cheers, Eamonn - hope all's well in your neck of the woods, sir!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@dschulenberg Thanks, Dara - definitely seems to have touched a nerve, great to see the conversation evolve. :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

dschulenberg Thanks, Dara - definitely seems to have touched a nerve, great to see the conversation evolve. :)

designergirla
designergirla

I so agree with you. In fact, I have come to call it anti-social media. 

designergirla
designergirla

I so agree with you. In fact, I have come to call it anti-social media.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

wordsdonewrite Thanks kindly, Amber. :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@cendrinemedia Hi Cendrine,

Thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed. Yeah, that stat always makes me smile - then you have the ninjas, rock stars, Jedis, gurus... the list literally goes on and one. :)

ROIS is definitely key for brands to measure and understand where their success on social is coming from - but, like you say, we still do business with people, and they're the biggest relationship to the sale, every time. Let's make sure we look after them.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

cendrinemedia Hi Cendrine, Thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed. Yeah, that stat always makes me smile - then you have the ninjas, rock stars, Jedis, gurus... the list literally goes on and one. :) ROIS is definitely key for brands to measure and understand where their success on social is coming from - but, like you say, we still do business with people, and they're the biggest relationship to the sale, every time. Let's make sure we look after them.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@penneyfox Does that make us more curmudgeon-like? ;-)

Over the weekend, I read a Tumblr blog that shared the social updates of people that blamed the victim in the Steubenville rape case, and I was appalled at how easy it is for idiots to have that kind of public forum. The right to free speech is core, but when does free speech cross the line?

Sometimes social media and its scale and ability to have a soapbox disgusts me.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

penneyfox Does that make us more curmudgeon-like? ;-) Over the weekend, I read a Tumblr blog that shared the social updates of people that blamed the victim in the Steubenville rape case, and I was appalled at how easy it is for idiots to have that kind of public forum. The right to free speech is core, but when does free speech cross the line? Sometimes social media and its scale and ability to have a soapbox disgusts me.

patricia_haag
patricia_haag

DannyBrown You're welcome Danny. Your article was important.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@Craig McBreen And there's your perfect answer right there, mate. The fact you're just continuing to plough your own path and not get involved in all the silly games out there. The proof is in the pudding of your continuous growth - and at the end of the day, isn't that the only answer that really matters? :)

Latest blog post: The Third Wave of Influence

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Craig McBreen And there's your perfect answer right there, mate. The fact you're just continuing to plough your own path and not get involved in all the silly games out there. The proof is in the pudding of your continuous growth - and at the end of the day, isn't that the only answer that really matters? :)

TheReluctantSC
TheReluctantSC

@DannyBrown You're so welcome & well done re your new book on the way. I hope to follow you with a book on fear free public speaking in Apr.

TheReluctantSC
TheReluctantSC

DannyBrown You're so welcome & well done re your new book on the way. I hope to follow you with a book on fear free public speaking in Apr.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@caro2point0 Thanks Caroline - still have hope for the medium, it continues to have great potential. Just need to separate the crud.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

caro2point0 Thanks Caroline - still have hope for the medium, it continues to have great potential. Just need to separate the crud.

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite

DannyBrown Hey, my pleasure. Thank you for the Facebook comment ;-)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

TheReluctantSC Hey, congrats mate, and good luck with the launch if/when you do!

designergirla
designergirla

Danny Brown designergirla JayDolan  Thanks, I shall. :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@wordsdonewrite For sure. Bad decision by Google, leaving a lot of people potentially stranded if not very tech-minded

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

wordsdonewrite For sure. Bad decision by Google, leaving a lot of people potentially stranded if not very tech-minded

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite

@DannyBrown I wonder about the real numbers behind the decision.May have to drive up to Google to riot or something ;-)

RTRViews
RTRViews

wordsdonewrite Nice to meet you too Amber.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

wordsdonewrite You haven't spoken with RTRViews yet - save your thanks until then... ;-)

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite

DannyBrown Will do! Thanks for the intro to RTRViews. Nice to meet you, Rick!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

wordsdonewrite Make sure you invite RTRViews if you do, he's got the Curmudgeon Stick if needed. ;-)

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite

DannyBrown I wonder about the real numbers behind the decision.May have to drive up to Google to riot or something ;-)