Social Media in and of itself isn’t really a bad thing. A message can be pushed out to a group of followers and be assured of a quick response. In some cases, it’s absolutely amazing what social media can accomplish in a short amount of time. It is the biggest “word of mouth” platform that exits and can make or break many businesses depending on how it is used. The major pitfall that comes with social media is that marketers, such as myself, know this, and take full advantage of the herd mentality and use it to the advantage of our clients.
More and more people are getting tired of the constant manipulation that marketers are pushing on them through social sites. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like, have all tried or will try in the future to use their space to sell something to their users. In exchange for giving their customers “free” sites in which they have the ability to connect with people around the world, see pictures of far off places, have instant video chats with grandparents, interact with celebrities, etc. they give up their personal privacy. “Sign up for Facebook: it’s free.” “Try Google+ Today For Free.”
Free… there is no such thing as free. Enslaved is a much better word to describe millions of social media addicts. Try to take a break from social media for a few days. Your hands will be itching to log in. Suddenly everything you see will seem like a great post or tweet. The power that social media wields over people these days is amazing.
Think about it: what if I walked up to you and asked you for your name, your address, your phone numbers, your religion, your education, your family members’ names, your friends, your interests, your likes and dislikes, your exact location at every moment you carry your cell phone, your password to all the different websites you visit, your viewing habits online, the time of day you log on every day, the amount of time you are online each day, and the who you interact with every hour? If I were to ask you all those questions you would rightly call the police and claim that I was a stalker. Yet all of that information and then some is compiled and used against you to help agencies market their products to you so they can turn a profit. That, my friend, is enslavement.
Knowing just how much marketers manipulate the system to get results for their clients almost makes me not want to even label myself as such. Marketing is difficult enough but the sheer amount of ethics involved makes it that much more difficult for most people. To me, though, it is more of a clear cut choice. I’ve made it my goal to only work with companies that share the same common goals and vision that I have. There are some great companies truly working for the betterment of mankind and that treat their employees with respect and their customers with integrity. These companies are typically more local than national and they typically are smaller rather than being conglomerates. These companies have great products that add to the world and do not seek only to take from it.
These are the type of people that I like working with. I am just as picky about selecting clients as they are with selecting marketing companies. If what they have to offer doesn’t add value to the world, then why, in good conscience, would I want to help them market their business? Marketing, as a profession, is hard. We are hired to push a message to consumers, but there is an ethical way of doing it, and yes, even an ethical way to use social media. It boils down to this: if everyone doesn’t win then it’s not worth doing.
I don’t write all of this about social media to say that it should be sworn off and never used. If you understand what social media lacks and seek to avoid the pitfalls of social media then you can effectively use it as a platform to bring change, introduce the world to a new product, connect people from around the world, etc. Like most things, it is a tool, and it can be used for both good and bad: for the betterment of society or for the detriment.
Rant officially over.
Jonathan is head of J.D. Byrd Company which provides brand development, online marketing and web development.
His career started by selling candy at age 8 to his friends. With such an auspicious start how could he not be in marketing?
Jonathan is married with 7 children (five girls and two boys) and currently resides in the Ozarks In Arkansas.