Looking back it seemed like a good idea – Everybody was joining in and looking for a good time. It was a free online party full of likes, follows, hashtags and tweetups, and we abided sensationally caught up in the excitement of ushering in a new age of marketing. We drank the proverbial Kool-Aid and begged for more. Just one more sip, just one more hit, just one more click. We wanted to party!
It was a real rush until it crashed. In 2014 the bill came due, it was no longer a free-for-all and you had to pay-to-play. People started leaving the party and it got more difficult to find people to engage with. The lights came on and all of sudden things didn’t look so good. The only people still partying are the ones who hosted the party or have the money to pay their way. Now many marketers have a social media hangover complete with having a bad taste left in their mouths and foggy memories of what they spent their time doing. How did things come to this? And where the hell did we lose our phone?
You make poor choices when you’re drunk; I have an unplanned kid to show for that (just joking, I don’t have kids but if I did I’d make sure they were always drunk. Joking, again). Forgive me, my sense of humour is a bit twisted and perspective a bit cynical – I’m a Gen X’er, after all. I like a good party just like the next person but after a few drinks I’m good and prefer to retreat to a quiet corner and observe as everybody else loses their shit. You can learn a lot about a person based on how they handle their alcohol and in the past few years a lot of marketers got sloppy drunk on social media. To be fair I still enjoy myself some social media but I don’t consider it a major party aid for my marketing efforts. As a self-described Digital Marketer I’m actually a bit embarrassed by social media drunkards and their behavior – Endless streams of vapid content, narcissism, and claims of riches is obnoxious. They might have been having fun but nobody around them was. Nobody should want to be that guy.
I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said – “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. Don’t be afraid of drinking from the social media tap occasionally but don’t plan the success of your business around it. If you want good customers you’ll need to spend some money to make money – The most successful marketing campaigns I’ve been involved with included a lot of hard work, provided value to the audience, were spread with paid online advertising, and selectively made use of social media to help with accessibility and sharing. If you get drunk on free social media you’re likely to be going home alone and with not much record of what you achieved. The free ride is over and, in fact, it never was free – If you’re using something for free it’s often because you are the product. Please remember to drink responsibly and plan a safe ride home.