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Friday Digital Roundup

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Wednesday 19th June 2024

Social media, brands, businesses and huge (sales) erections!

Thu 13th Feb 2014
By Todd

I’ve got a bug I’m bearing and blogging helps me. So if you’ll join me for a few minutes I’ll tell you a story about social media and why some (not all!) corporate brands are getting my goat.

Social media (Please read the first word twice. Got it? Great.)

Social media is just that, people. It’s a social form of media. It’s an exciting way to develop meaningful relationships and communities with people online. It’s not – I repeat not – a replacement for direct mailshots, cold calls or the advert breaks on TV.

Social media, brands, businesses and huge (sales) erections!

Join the party

image supplied by Karen Massey Photography - Social media - join the partyI like to think of social media as a huge room full of people enjoying themselves. I would say a cocktail party but that’s been flogged to death lately. This huge room is full of people talking to each other, laughing with each other, entertaining each other, sharing stories with each other and helping each other. This is a great room and everyone is really enjoying themselves.

Until that is, the corporate loudmouth wanders in.

Enter Mr Brand:

He’s just heard about this party from his ivory tower across the street and he thought he might bag some quick and easy business. He’s not here to listen, to engage, or to build a meaningful relationships.

Uh oh… that awkward moment when his sales erection pops out!

Yup, that promo banner’s out again. In he waltzes, throwing his message around, canon-firing his business cards into the room. He grabs a stool from the bar, stands on it and shouts about what he’s selling! Everyone is really going to listen to you when you holler about yourself during their party… right?!


No, no, no! What makes brands think they can do this? At what point does a business see a great activity working for its competitors and then decide to do the opposite in an attempt to get the same results? Why do they do this? Here’s my theory why.

Social media is a great new type of marketing. It’s having some incredible effects for businesses and people who engage on it. But with that comes attention from the marketers, the PR companies, the big bold advertising types that have stood for years, shouting their messages out.


“If you TALKED to people the way advertising TALKED to people, they’d PUNCH you in the face!”


I first heard this quote last year at a digital marketing conference. Think about it. Think about the advertising of old. It really was a very rude way to communicate, wasn’t it? Luckily we fought back. We took away the one thing they needed – our ears! They gave up shouting when we punched their shouty strategy in the face.

Now we want relationships and communication. Forest.scene We want transparency and we want a human response. Social media has allowed us to communicate with businesses and brands in an exciting new way and we’ll be dammed if Mr Brand is going to join our nice friendly, fun party with his insensitive, selfish ways.

So what happens to our Mr Brand on his soapbox?

We do exactly what we did to his rude advertising – we don’t listen. He can carry on shouting his message but we don’t hear him. We think he’s a bit daft really.

Does a tree still make a noise when it falls in a forest that doesn’t give a crap?

Brands and businesses: listen up!

People don’t care about you, they care about themselves. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you. Your targets are as self-centred as your audience because people want what they can get for themselves. That’s fine and perfectly normal! They want to benefit their own lives and they are only willing to engage with you if you give them that.

Sure, your competitors are doing well with social media marketing. But you made the assumption that they came to town to sell, didn’t you?! They may have when they entered the room, but they soon put their agenda away and engaged instead.

Listen to social media conversations and join in when you can or when it’s relevant. Offer advice and tips on your industry. Give away free information that people need and benefit from. Offer value – and do it often. Help people and they will come back.

You WILL generate more business from social media – but you won’t do it with your tried and tested methods from the old platforms. There’s a new type of marketing in town. So tuck away your bulge and put on a helpful smile. Isn’t that better?

Over to you…

What do you think is the worst thing or the best thing you can do as a brand on social media – tell us, we’d love to hear!

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