Brands In The Social Media Suck Hole

A lot of people are looking to social media advertising to perform (myself included). And a lot of people are starting to question whether in fact it does, or ever will, perform.
Hotel consutlant, Michael Hraba, is questioning.

I think a lot of hotels that set up a (Facebook) page, have absolutely *ZERO* idea how to meaningfully interact with potential guests, and resort to offering locals dinner deals in their restaurant, because there isn’t really a way to reach a prospective client on FB (and don’t get me started on their advertising program… because we know that doesn’t work). You can only reach people that know about you, and that can act on offers, deals, and last minute specials. These aren’t clients that provide a powerful revenue stream to your hotel, and often, as we have seen with dropping rates to garner occupancy… the people looking for a deal aren’t really the clients you want anyway.
Are we wasting our time?

I think it’s fair to say, yes many of us are wasting time pursuing social media solutions to real world business problems.
An agency exec recently told me that 99% of online advertising is a waste of the client’s money. Not 99% of social media advertising–99% of all online advertising. This kind of talk begs the question, “is the digital medium a place advertisers need to be?” For years, we all fell in line and said, “of course it is.” Now, it seems there’s cause to pause and evaluate the situation in a reasonable manner.
Where are the big online advertising wins? Can you name one? I can name only one, President Obama’s campaign for President.
Most of the notable creative wins have mostly been microsites (often in support of larger, TV-driven campaigns) and one-off viral videos, but these are not big wins. Big wins define the category and inspire people to act.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. There are few reasons why there are few to no big wins in the digital space. First and foremost the client usually does not have the balls or know how to pursue them. Assuming an agency comes back with a big win type of campaign the client will either not understand it, back out of it or claim they do not have the budget for it. Digital remains the most versatile, relevant, two-way and multi-channel method of reaching a diverse and active audience. The brands simply are dumb. It’s no wonder so many companies are going under facing a tough economy. They simply don’t have the minds to meet this or many other challenges. I’ve worked in the digital space at every major agency in NYC and I’m not bullshitting or bitter. The problem and disconnect is with the client. Obama’s digital campaign was a big win because as a client he got it. The innovation and ideas started with him and spread to his supporters online which was the only place they could truly interact with his brand.

  2. Cheers! @hhotelconsult here thanking you for the reference and quote. I think the quote might be a bit out of context because that is a response to a recent “twittering” about facebook… and people trying to figure out how it is functional. But I want to note that Facebook is not social media, and the greater tools that social media presents really does provide meaningful ways to interact with your clients, as well as understand your brand. It is powerful, and shouldn’t be ignored. However, I will keep one eye brow raised for everyone at all times. Always questioning, I promise. =)