Trapped In A Soc Net

Matt Jones, director of strategy and planning for Jack Morton Worldwide, has little use for social media, or media of any kind. To him, media is just a channel, a conduit for what does matter–“people, ideas, stories and other real stuff.”
In his guest piece on Ad Age, Jones argues:

Far from being interesting (unless you enjoy following mutually referencing bloggers who blog about blogging), social media is just an excuse. It is, to be specific, the old marketing industry’s latest excuse to waste more money on bad ideas and lazy thinking.
The question for us all right now (and I include my own agency) is: What would happen if we acted on the implications of social media, rather than just use it as cheap media? What if we recognized that social media is really only shorthand for the multi-channel, hyper-connected, user-generated, co-created, always-on world we now live in — a world where the good gets what it deserves and so does the bad? What if we stopped getting all hot and heavy over the latest new media success stories du jour, and starting realizing that the real triumph of, say, the Obama campaign was the product and the story, not the channel used for storytelling?

It’s not surprising that Jones ends up at “make a better product and we’ll tell a better story.” That riff is not quite as tired as all the social media evangelizing the industry is wallowing in, but it’s close.
I love the idea in “make a better product and we’ll tell a better story” but it’s not grounded in the realities of the marketplace. Furthermore, if companies actually took this advise and made better products, “the story” embedded in the product would spread naturally through word-of-mouth and there would be no need for an industry like ours that makes up stories on behalf of brands.
Part of what Jones is opposing is the proliferation of branded crap in social media dumping grounds. I can’t blame him, but that’s what most brands do, they crap all over the place with no concern for the media channel or the people therein seeking news, entertainment and social interaction. His point is let’s not encourage them in said pursuits. Jones and Jack Morton Worldwide are instead encouraging brands to be “customer-centric, holistic, experience brands.”
Ironically, brands have a huge opportunity to humble themselves and use social media channels to be the “customer-centric, holistic, experience brand” that Jones is calling for.



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 head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.