It’s social media week and I’m out and about, listening mostly. Monday, Facebook’s head of sales was giving the keynote, and yes it was as soul-destroying as that sounds, the less said about that the better. I shall say this much: Everything facebook knows about you is being used to sell to you. And you don’t even want to think about how you’re being profiled using the info you (and I, yes) so freely provide.
Anyways I don’t want to sound too bitter so I focus on the positives. Yesterday, Tuesday, keynote by Luke Townsin from Twitter’s creative development team. Yes I know twitter also needs to monetise in order to stay in business, but the focus was so much more on how it is useful to people.
I was of course struck by how much the scene had changed since I was an active member of it. So I spontaneously asked a question: for someone who actually works at twitter, how does the change from people having their own accounts to ad and PR agencies taking over these voices feel? (I’m not great at asking questions at these big events but it went ok.) Luke answered that there is a great many organisations that keep social media in-house, or bring it back. He pointed out Jerry Daykin, sitting a couple of rows in front of me, who is the main man at Cadbury’s and part of one such development.
As a side note, another question was ‘can you give some tips on how to do a successful campaign without paying for promoted tweets’ to which Luke said ‘there are no hard and fast rules’. So now we know
I had a chat with Jerry after the talk and we talked about how what’s happening with social media engagement just follows the same old patterns of marketing. When everyone and their mum joined twitter we thought (well I did) there would be some genuine connections, but it’s just PR and ads.
I think the old guard has become jaded, or joined this trend and formed their own agencies, or moved on to do something completely different, and that’s how I don’t see the same faces anymore. But what Jerry and I agreed on was that there is still a huge amount of space for disruption. What is happening right now isn’t really working for anyone – brands have too many agencies to deal with, yet nothing is really THAT creative. In the end, the people actually running the accounts are always the most junior. ‘Full service agencies’ sell a lot of hot air. As a solution everyone is trying to desperately measure their impact to show ROI, while the recipients of those reports feel more and more disconnected from what’s really happening with their voice online.
I don’t know, I feel there might well be space for a Speak for Yourself-type offering which is based on decision makers personally getting to grips with social media before trying to use it like some old-school ad network where people just wait to be sold to. It’s just one of those things that sounds logical to me, and I know it’s worked in the past, so why not now with the huge amount of attention social media is getting now, compared to a few years ago?