Tuesday, April 21, 2009

social media is like sex

I was trying to explain social media to a friend in advertising the other day. She's one of the smartest art directors I know, who can ferret out meaning from the most obtusely written brief.

"I don't get social media," she said. "What the heck is it, anyway?"

I told my friend not to feel bad. Lots people still don't get social media. Even those who claim that they do. I quoted something making the rounds on twitter recently: Social media is like teen sex. Everyone says they're getting it, but few really do. (An adaptation of another tweet from a Google analytics guru.)

As I began describing Twitter streams and Facebook widgets and analytics and vlogs, her eyes glazed over. And I realized another reason social media is like sex. You can talk all you want about the mechanics to people. But until they do it, they can't know what all the fuss is about.

Last week Joseph Jaffee wrote a piece on social media for Adweek. Many commenters accused him of being condescending to ad agency types by writing a primer too basic for them. Some of the comments were personally insulting and Alan Wolk referred to this backlash in an article on a new era of meanspiritedness on Madison Avenue. Surely, for negative commenters, the piece was too basic. But I think those of us immersed in SM often overestimate the degree of conversance normal people have with it.

Ad agency revenue models are still tied to client spending on media. And social media is still perceived to be free. (Fred Wilson called it "earned" media, but isn't that PR? How about the more robust CGM--Consumer Generated Media.) Not surprising if creatives at global AORs are still encouraged to think of social media as just one more shiny charm to add to their campaign bracelet.


Mike Bawden said...

Social Media is like sex ... and it's free ... oh, the implications.

Great post. Thanks.

Teenie said...

So... social media is awkward, embarrassing, quick, and leaves you unsatisfied?

No wonder Facebook's not calling anymore.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your well-written analogy. It does make sense. As someone in the CGM / social media space it can be difficult. I think people miss the emotional connection they use to have which is what Twitter seems to lack. Thank you,

bob hoffman said...

Hey, Ad Broad.

Would you quit all that tweeting and start blogging again?

And by the way, nothing is like sex.

Teenie said...

I concur with Bob--we miss you!

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@Mike Bawden Well. At least it's SM. And not S&M. Right? ;)

@Teenie Love your summary. OH: FB=people u used to know. Twitter=ppl u want to know. And thanks for encouraging words. I'll be home soon.

@Golublog But at least tech whore has more cachet than ad whore.

@Adam Yes, hope twitter compliments, not replaces IRL relationships. But who knows. Just received biz card last nite w/ no phone #, just sm id's. "I hate phone calls."

@BobHoffman Wow. Especially generous words coming from a Contrarian. Thanks. And. Good point. :)

Hadara said...

Loved it. Tweeted it.