Can We Keep Social Media from Sucking?

Two stories on the internet caught my attention this week. The first was a blog post from Mark Schaefer on the business case for buying facebook likes. Yes, that’s the business case FOR buying them. His argument seems to be that whether it makes sense or not, we now give value to a brand that has a high number of likes. Even if they are completely fake, bought likes. The marketplace values it, so why not buy the likes?

Then this morning I saw a link to a story about Brian Lam, who grew Gizmodo to millions and millions of page views before burning out (he came to hate the internet; “people shouldn’t live like robots” he said). He came back and started a new site that he’s happy with (but it ONLY gets 350,000 unique visitors a month), but these stories have me thinking.

Is social media starting to suck?

Have the traditional marketers really taken it over–so much so that it loses its essence? Its human-ness. Like authenticity, connection, solving human problems. Are we now just going through the motions to make sure our funnels are full? Has blogging simply become a channel in our content strategy? Have the “agents” encircled us and removed us as a threat to the Matrix?

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  1. 19.12.2012 at 9:32 am

    Yes. It started to suck long ago. Sad.

  2. 19.12.2012 at 10:32 am

    I think we can choose to make it what we want it to be. The social web is a reflection of humanity. There is greed, extremists and evil. But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way for US. We can choose to make the experience whatever we like by surrounding ourselves with great people and content that make our lives better. My take any way.

  3. 19.12.2012 at 10:36 am

    Yes. It was inevitable, wasn’t it?

    I think you can still do all the good stuff you mention here, but a lot of it gets lost in the crowd.

    I’m reminded of the Yogi Berra quote: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

  4. 19.12.2012 at 11:58 am

    I don’t think it is, but I think there’s a cyclical pattern of the machine world trying to take over and automate everything. If we’re successful and we can (all) change business to be more human, then we’ll keep evolving just like humans do. If not, then it will all be like a giant vortex of suckage. But I’m fairly confident we’re better than that, even if the agents seem stronger than us.

  5. 19.12.2012 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks everyone for the comments. Nice to “see” you again Mark! I agree with both sentiments expressed–that this was bound to happen AND we have the power to turn it around. But I think it’s a useful reminder to be vigilant and intentional as we do our work. It’s easy to slip into patterns that don’t serve us.

  6. 19.12.2012 at 2:13 pm

    I think so. What I see are a ton of opportunists taking advantage of people who are just trying to be social–share this!! Buy this!! Like this!! I know people like that in real life too, but I’m seeing more and more of them discovering social media and wanting to capitalize on being “social”–e.g. bullying people into sharing, buying or promoting their stuff. Same thing going for the bought likes and overfocus on number of fans and followers. How is that in any way about being social or having a conversation?

    Also, I’m shattered about Marcus Welby, MD!! It doesn’t make me feel better that his real-life persona was the polar opposite to the characters he played on TV–it makes it worse!

  7. Frank Fortin
    19.12.2012 at 4:25 pm

    I believe that the bullshit detectors of most adults on social media sites have been tuned to a pretty sensitive level for quite a while.
    It probably started the first time they were suckered by a spammy post on Facebook. You know, the one that says, “Can you believe what this teacher just did?” (Yeah I fell for it too – just once though!)
    That’s why I think “likes” don’t carry as much social proof as they once did, and they’re only taken seriously by brainless marketers to justify themselves to naive clients or clueless bosses.
    So I’m not that worried about this.