That Old Content Myth

So. I’ve been reading a book with the rather pointed title of ‘Social Media is Bullshit’, by one BJ Mendelson. Available from Amazon, it is (sound a bit like Yoda, there – ‘when 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not’ – and I’m fairly certain this post will not change the opinon of that great morass of people who think I’m a dinosaur), at a fairly impressive price, even for the Kindle edition, of over eight of your finest sovereigns. As, as someone pointed out to me, you don’t actually get anything papery for that, neither.

That being as it may, as it usually is, I was delighted to find that someone had written a book agreeing with my entire premise on the subject of social, and that, therefore, if there are two of us, there must be more. Not alone. Like the caveman crawling out of the dark and gazing up at the stars – ‘I’m not alone’. (Obviously, that was his second thought, coming shortly after ‘Oh f*ck me, would you ever look at that.’)

Anyway, the premise of the book is that social media are just more media. Nothing special about them, nothing magical and certainly nothing life-changing. With social media, as with so much else, your success will be dictated by luck, how well-known you were beforehand, whether you’re famous already and how much money you’re prepared to spank away on other types of communication (this is important chaps) to bolster your social. But mostly it’s luck.

All this horsedoo about content and community and conversation is exactly that – just horsedoo. Ideas propagated by the only people who will ever ‘monetise’ social media – yep, the snake-oil-selling social media gurus, the ones who make their money out of telling you how to make social work for you. (And the answer still remains – ‘it doesn’t’.)

All of this put me in mind of something I wrote a while back – actually a comment on another blog. It was about just that idea that somehow social media ‘content’ is a mystical, magical substance that doesn’t have to obey the same rules as traditional ‘stuff’ – by which I mean be interesting, compelling, unique or new. All things that news used to be before it – oh, hold on, news still is, isn’t it? It’s the main currency of broadcast and print media – still very much alive, still terribly well, thanks, and communicating effectively with an enormous audience near you right now.

Here you are (nothing like promoting my own thoughts):

“It’s still about news. News is content, content is news. No-one is (in the main) interested in something that’s not new to them. The old adage about the things that make news – sex, celebrity, money, technology, controversy and ‘fluffy bunnies’ – still holds true.

The press release was always treated like spam, even in the days when they were delivered in cleft sticks by men in loincloths. Why? Because news releases were, are and always will be – in the main – badly targeted and of little relevance to the person receiving them.

The CEO of Joe Bloggs, the clothing company, was known as Chef Underpant Officer – probably apocryphal, although I’d love it to be true. No matter, the point is that it’s not importnt what you’re called, if you’re in communications, your job is to create presence for your clients and their messages.

Which is why all this conversation, community, content nonsense is exactly that – nonsense. We’re not in the game of creating communities, or conversation, on the offchance that someone might wish to participate, not more are we in the game of creating lovely free content that someone might wish to view.

We – as communicators – are in the business of selling. Which is why social media don’t really work as commercial marketing or comms tools.”

Boom!

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