June 18, 2012

Content Is The New Magic

Recently I praised Fast Company for publishing a very good piece about the dream world  marketers are living in in which they think Facebook members give a shit about their brands.

Well, it didn't take long for Fast Company to revert to form. Last week they published a self-promotion piece disguised as an article called Why You Should Buy Facebook (And Sell GM). It was written by a "content" hound and it explains to us dinosaurs, with great forbearance, why "content" shared on Facebook is the new online marketing magic.

According to his guy, like everything else in the long line of online marketing miracle cures, content -- especially that which is shared on Facebook -- will soon be replacing traditional advertising.

As usual, the argument is not a discussion of facts, it's the oft-told battle between the tired old forces of reaction and the heroic new crusaders of virtue.

Conveniently, the author neglects to inform us that the identical claims have been made for previous online wonders including podcasts, blogs, banners, widgets, user generated content, Twitter, apps, YouTube... and it has all proven to be seriously delusional.

So fire up your cliche meter, here we go.
"There's a battle brewing between the old-world thinking of Madison Avenue and Wall Street and the mindset of the Facebook generation...Facebook is about replacing traditional ads with shared content; it's about new ways of sharing with friends and strangers, not old, failing ways of shilling for products...
This guy needs a jargon make-over. If he's going to be channeling the magnificently wonderful "Facebook generation" he really ought to stop quoting 5-year old social media powerpoints.

Also, we idiots are...
"...famous for opposing any threat to (our) power and (our) ancient ways of operating"
Yeah, all this power is really going to my head. And does anyone know where I can get my abacus re-beaded?

You see, we are suffering from...
"...a complete failure to understand where Facebook's real economic value lies... (we) should be dreaming that a friend or a stranger shares an online link to a piece of content authored by their brands."
I think the operative word here is "dreaming."

He also inadvertently neglects to include the two most important facts about advertising and marketing on Facebook:
Finally, this guy loses any and all credibility by quoting extensively from the appalling, misleading, and completely unscientific piece of garbage from Nielsen called Global Online Consumers and Multi-Screen Media: Today and Tomorrow that we took apart here last week.

Apparently unconcerned that Facebook makes about 85% of its money on paid advertising -- not shared content -- the author concludes...
"It doesn't take a genius to figure out how Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders will make money on this exploding phenomenon."
This confirms something I've suspected for a long time. I'm no genius.


Cecil B. Demille said...

Facebook will also: cure the common cold, put a man on Mars and help you lose weight without exercising or altering your diet.

The wonderful thing about snake oil is the variety of forms it takes.

timorr said...

Zuckerberg is a genius. Bill Gates is a genius. Bob Garfield is a genius. Kevin Roberts is a genius. These pundits – like the "Fast Company" writer – all engage in "genius-envy," and confuse net worth with IQ. As Everett Sloane says in "Citizen Kane," "There's no trick to making a lot of money – if all you want to do is make a lot of money." I'm more inclined to use Steve Jobs' condemnation: "[He] never did anything first-rate in his entire life."

Alan Browdy said...

still haven't figured out FB's business model...maybe it's me?

NSFW said...

Newbie question, but: how do these rates compare to other channels of advertising?

Greg Satell said...

I'm 100% with you on this one.  It does seem that every time something new comes along, people start talking about how it will kill off what came before it.

It's sort of like when Einstein came along in the early 20th century and showed the world that there was a lot more to physics than Newton thought.  Since that time, not one bridge or building built on Newton's principles fell because of relativity.  We just found out that we could do more stuff.

I do think you're selling Facebook a little bit short though.  It's an excellent company with absolutely amazing scale.  They have also come up with a very nice new product  which allows you to pay to reach more of your followers when you post.  I've tried it out and it works very well.

Just because a lot of people who have nothing to do with the company say stupid things about the company isn't Facebook's fault.

- Greg