Friend of the Devil

I've never thought too highly of social media. 

Of course I've personally had something of a blogging habit, but I see that more like singing in the shower.  If you choose to have a listen, fine, but I'm not angling for an audience.   I got onto Facebook a while ago and promptly got inundated with "friends" from high school, many of whom I didn't hang out with too much then, most of whom I haven't kept up with at all.  I really don't need to know the contents of their baby's diaper and how precious it is.  The "push" aspect of it was a big negative for me.  I learned how to pick and choose updates from people, but event then, it was kind of like a door I wanted to keep locked lest I be tempted to push it open.  So I locked the door, tossed the key, and abandoned Facebook. 

Twitter was even worse.  Age wise, I'd fit right in with the Radio Shack lineup, but Lance's use of Twitter was like almost embarrassing to me.  "Look at me, look at me, I haven't been relevant enough lately, but I'm BACK, baby, I'M BACK!"  (shakes head)

This venture has caused me to reconsider the whole thing, in a different light.  First, I'm slightly out of the demographic that adopts the new new thing just like I was playing catch.  Not quite fully into the "you kids get offa my lawn" and pull your trousers up under your armpits set, either.  Part of being smart about this stuff is recognizing what parts of the world aren't yet, are no longer, and never will be your purview.  I'm not into tweeting all the time (the "tweet deck" still sounds to me like it's referring to poolside at a nudist camp), but I have had the great awakening to the benefits of the whole paradigm. 

Marketing, to me, has always been less about buying ads and creating promotion than it's been about matching appropriate products to markets, ensuring the ongoing appropriateness and quality of the products, creating price levels that allow producers to prosper and continue to produce while allowing the market to continue to access the products, etc.  Sure, creating awareness of the product's availability is a huge part of it, but it's not everything.  I see the effective marketer sort of like a yenta, making matches between things and the people who want those things. 

Too much marketing seems aimed at shoving inappropriate things down people's throats.  This is sort of the traditional way of doing things.  Deploy ads that not only create desire, but create doubt - "without this bike, you can't win races!"  "People will think you're a putz unless you prove you aren't by riding this super awesome bike!" 

Social media, on the other hand, is pretty honest.  Sometimes brutally so, sometimes less so.  Of course there is the buyer justification phenomenon, where people want to increase their ownership value by shouting about how great what they decided to get is.  There is also the ignorant slam phenomenon, where people who are tied (whatever the tie is) to some other option, and just beat on anything other than that.  But at its best, it can be sort of a dispassionate conversation among huge networks of peers to let each other know what you've got and how you like it, and what you know that other people might want to know about. 

Apart from all that, it's cheap and egalitarian.  There are going to be those who are just geniuses at manipulating the medium, but in general the truth is going to out.  The number of data points naturally smooths the data.  It's like judging figure skating - throw out the high and low scores and pay attention to the tight distribution of the rest.  It's not some big brother message where the price of entry is huge.  It's not a sneaky quasi-commercial review.  No pay to play.  It's sort of the ultimate "raise it up the flagpole and see who salutes" venue. 

Let the people be heard.


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