Anyone For Anti-Social Media?

Living the connected life is a tall order. Instead of living in the moment–something wise men and women have long advocated–we find ourselves bent over the tiny keyboard of a mobile device updating Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, FriendFeed and our blogs when we ought to be soaking up the sun and whatever friendly banter we can.
It’s no secret that social media fatigue is setting in. The Baltimore Sun has the story:

A recent survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 45 percent of Americans in all age groups are enthusiastic about socializing via computer and mobile devices. Meanwhile, 48 percent are indifferent to Internet social networks, overwhelmed by gadgets or often avoid Internet use altogether.

Almost half of the people are indifferent. Bring that stat with you to your next brainstorm. Let’s look at one of the reasons why:

“Being exposed to details, from someone’s painful breakup to what they had for breakfast — and much more sordid details than that — feels like voyeurism,” says Alex Slater, a 31-year-old public relations executive in Washington, D.C. “I’m less concerned with protecting my privacy, and more concerned at the ethics of a ‘human zoo’ where others’ lives, and often serious problems, are treated as entertainment.”

In other words, shallow is as shallow does.
Proponents of social media argue that the networks one builds online can bring people together. That technology exposes shared interests and helps create and maintain connections that would not otherwise exist. It’s a strong argument for, but there are equally strong counter points and that’s my point. It’s so easy to get caught up in things new and exciting, especially when the new and exciting things might also make you money.
I think the trick for marketing people is to stay grounded and focused on the business problem at hand. If social media honestly solves a business problem for a client, great, put it in the mix but don’t let it overpower the whole.

About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.