Excerpt from David Ogilvy’s book on advertising:
There have always been noisy lunatics on the fringes of the advertising business. Their stock-in-trade includes ethnic humor, eccentric art direction, contempt for research, and their self-proclaimed genius. They are seldom found out because they gravitate to the kind of clients who, bamboozled by their rhetoric, do not hold them responsible for sales results. Their campaigns find favor at cocktail parties in New York, San Francisco and London but are taken less seriously in Chicago. In the days when I specialized in posh campaigns for The New Yorker, I was the hero of this coterie, but when I graduated to advertising in mass media and wrote a book which extolled the value of research, I became its devil. I comfort myself with the reflection that I have sold more merchandise than all of them put together
I had this quote in draft before I read about the 15,000+ social media experts on Twitter. Last night at the mini-nerdfest in Cork we chatted about that and the number of people out there coaching, empowering and facilitating companies to get into the social media lark. Hell, Mulley Communications made most of their turnover in 2009 from training and mentoring in social media like blogging, Facebook and to a small degree, Twitter. Though I’ve mostly encouraged companies not to take Twitter seriously until they get their web basics right to start with.
For a company to spend resources on any of this, they have to have goals and objectives to measure too. So while some of the social media ninjas (seriously they call themselves that) will tell you that in social media you can’t measure objectives and to enjoy your new emperor-like clothes or others tell you that once you get a social media certificate you have free reign to be an idiot online as you have your badge, there are growing numbers of people who will tell you the reality.
This is a whole new world to most business people so they’ll latch on to people who call themselves experts and gurus that give them a checklist on how to appear genuine online (one such millionaire social media guru has such a list). It’s lazy by the business people to do this but they’re used to buying in communication skills and shortcuts. They might get burned and they’ll react badly but as all of the hype normalises and social media is as background as email then many of these shysters will disappear or more likely will attach themselves to the next hype curve. WAP experts, Y2K consultants, SEO experts, Twitter coaches will always be around in some form and many of them will be quite rich.
Closed businesses always react badly to change, miss the boat and then pay handsomely to catch up while still being afraid of the future and of course there are groups always willing to prey on that. 25 years since the above quote and it’s cycle after cycle. So maybe we shouldn’t react to the social media gurus who will be social business gurus in two years but instead react to closed-minded businesses that fuel this?