The Downfall of Social Media


It was inevitable.

Because social media is not the end all be all. Social media won’t cure your marketing woes. Social media will not make you more popular. And social media will not cure cancer.

Social media is a channel (or more accurately several channels) and it always has been. Just like television, radio, email and websites.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and all the rest are channels.

And channels are only as good as their content.

Nobody tunes into NBC because it is NBC. They tune in for the content that’s on the channel. Nobody tunes into a radio station for the radio station. They listen to the talk or the tunes.

That same behavior exists for Facebook.

People go to Facebook for the content. They go to see what their friends, family and co-workers are doing. They follow brands for quality content.

If the content dries up or gets bad – they leave.

That’s the nature of being a channel.

Some would argue that Facebook has already started to fade because they have been more focused on monetizing and advertising than on making the content experience better, richer and easier.

That’s not to say that content doesn’t have to be optimize for each specific channel. Just like content creators have always done for radio and TV. Marketers need to create content that works for the specific channels. So content published on Facebook and on Pinterest will be inherently different because they are different channels with different features.

But it is still about the content. Not the channel.

And that’s how we should all be thinking about social media now – channels. Create good content, optimize it for your specific channels, and then publish it.

Is that how you’re thinking about social media?


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4 Responses to “The Downfall of Social Media”

  1. Except the television doesn’t talk back. The radio doesn’t answer my questions.
    Social media (and email, and sometimes websites) are communication tools, not channels. Simply broadcasting media is like shouting in a market square; it’s loud and everyone else is shouting too. You’ll never get much out of shouting if you’re gathering in a place where people like to talk to each other.

    (I do agree with you however that having good content is important, having something to say is important. Otherwise there is nothing to engage with.)

  2. Hi Monica:
    Talk radio can certainly answer your questions if you call in and participate. And live events on TV that include interactions with the audience can as well.

    No one said that social media channels weren’t interactive. When I discuss optimizing for each platform – you definitely need to consider engagement at the core.

    But social media are channels and you are broadcasting on them (and engaging as well – but that’s part of the broadcast). There is really no such thing as one-on-one brand communications on social media because for every interaction a brand engages in there are dozens (if not hundreds or thousands depending on the size of the brand) that they choose not to engage with…

    And even those engagements it does chose to engage with are public and therefore by its nature more of a broadcast than a communication.

    And I’d argue that broadcasting doesn’t equate shouting. A movie, a song, and a book are all broadcast mediums and I wouldn’t call those “shouting.”

  3. To counter. TV, by its nature (live broadcasts are not the majority and cross platform integration is very new) is a one to many communication: a platform by which to speak without directly engaging with individuals. I could argue the same of radio, though radio does have more interaction, it is, at its core one to many communication.

    Social, is not. Social is one to many, one to one, and many to many all at once. It is comprised of tools designed to be used to communicate.

    Using the term shouting without explanation led to some confusion I think. I mean it to say someone putting out a message as is, with no discussion, no expectation to start a conversation with the consumer. A lot of people use social media to do this. They think they can just post their message out there and then not reply to people and have it work. And maybe it does, sometimes, but it misses the point of social media in my opinion which is to be social, to communicate. Movies, songs, books are all one to many communications: speaking an idea but not coming back to engage in the response. In essence “shouting” (speaking but not listening). Maybe we’ll use a different word for it. But a book, in the traditional sense is not social. Social media are communication tools. In their very essence social.

    Also, there ARE one-to-one communications on social, even with big brands (I’ve talked to Ford for 2 days on Twitter. It happens.) If marketers/PR/advertisers allow social media to be a platform to push their message and not engage I would argue they don’t understand it’s true potential. And no, not every comment requires engagement. I know it’s a radical opinion to have as someone that works in social media/marketing/PR/etc. But it’s the one I stand by and the one that got me/lets me keep my job.

    My 2¢, take it or leave it… but personally I’d really like to see a revolution in the industry. One that reminds us to be human and that businesses are filled with real people. People liked to talk with each other, not be talked at.

  4. Hi Monica:
    Good debate! So thanks!

    Social is one to many as well – because your communication is public. When a brand (or even a person) answers a question from a consumer (or friend) on Facebook or Twitter it is for public consumption. It is not one to one because it is not private. It is on a stage. Social gives the illusion of one-to-one communications, but is a mass medium.

    There is also the issue that many people leave comments or use Twitter anonymously. How is talking to someone who doesn’t identify themselves one-to-one communications?

    Your idea that only broadcasting on social channels and not engaging or listening isn’t necessarily a misuse of the channels. Lots of brands and people produce videos and photographs and blog posts without any engagement (for blogs look no further than Seth Godin who doesn’t allow comments on his blog).

    And I will also add that brands are human. Most brands develop messaging documents and social content strategies ahead of time. The people you engage with are doing so within the guidelines and best practices that the brands have set up for them – just like when you’re talking to a consumer service rep on the phone. That’s not real.

    I agree that people want to be heard, but it’s not possible for brands to listen to or respond to everyone.

    I explore that more here:

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