I wrote this a few years ago for the Cork Independent.
Amateurs and cowboys
Again and again in this column on digital marketing we have looked at all the new tools and techniques that allow anyone in an organisation to do digital marketing. A business can now do their own website optimisation and rank quite well in Google search results. The same business can create Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts and tweet away about the company’s offerings. Ads can be taken out with just a credit card and you can be advertising all over the web or in Facebook within minutes. The amateur class is becoming the default and doing quite a good job of it.
To quote the from the scholarly works of the great “Spiderman” – “With great power comes great responsibility”. With your amateur voice everywhere, you can be very amateur in front of a lot of people. As I write this I am looking at a business on Twitter, using their business name and they are engaing in a conversation with another business and basically suggesting their customers are stupid.
At the same time on Twitter people are giving out about the new TV ads from a biscuit company. 90% of the tweets about them are negative, if you go on to their Facebook Page it’s the same. With the way people are connected on Twitter and Facebook, others are joining in too, spreading the idea that the ads are awful to more people. Conversations are now happening offline with people asking people have they heard about these awful TV ads. All very one-sided.
It’s fantastic that for many tasks you don’t have to hire professional marketing or PR companies and can do it yourself but it doesn’t mean we should. There are some naturals out there when it comes to PR and Marketing who just don’t need professionals, they are already brilliant. We’re in the early days of social media where everyone is having a go at this, professionals and amateurs. For a while we’ll all get along/away with doing this. As the online crowd grows and matures we’re probably going to see new types of communications companies form in this space and offer their services though. This is good for those that want to use their services but also it should help up standards in social media.
PR and Marketing companies formed well after the industries they lived off were created and in the wild west of social media, it’ll be a while before it becomes more professional too. In the meantime we’ll have the amateurs having car crashes, saying things to a wide sphere when they didn’t realise it, slagging off their employer on Facebook or spamming people thinking it’s an ok thing to do. Even the companies with staff that are always on social media are still in the amateur stage and be aware of that if you are going to hire them. Lots of mistakes will happen but with them lots of lessons will be learned. Right now too we’re all more forgiving when these hiccups happen. So stick on the stetson, wear those boots and enjoy the unrestricted social media world before it becomes to mainstream and stale.