In the flurry of New Year’s predictions, I have heard some murmurings of a coming backlash against social media especially from the professional marketing world.
A good roundup of these criticisms comes from a column from a Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Michael Silence. The prediction is based on two assumptions. First, that everyone is tiring of all the noise generated from social media. Second, that corporations are not seeing any return on social media and will pull the plug on social media spending.
From reading his column, I don’t think Silence is endorsing these views, but I disagree with both points.
First the noise claims – The idea goes social media creates more noise and shortens attention spans making it harder to be heard. Basically the attention span claim is a typical old media vs. new media argument (or the I hate change argument). It’s been applied to radio, television, music videos, web sites and now text messaging and social media. The argument is correct that people pay less attention to social media than a newspaper column. The growth of social media creates less of an appetite for long form media, but that doesn’t make social media evil or the effects of it wrong. It’s just different, meaning communication techniques have to evolve to communicate effectively.
Second the return on social media investment – Many companies jumped on the social media bandwagon to just be in the game and not be left behind and they ended up being left behind because they didn’t look, listen and planned before they acted. They jumped into social media without any knowledge of what it meant to be engaged with their community not mention any goals, no plans to measure what they did. Companies that have a social media plan, that have engaged their community have seen enormous returns on social media. In fact a lot of companies that went into social media with goals and a plan are now investing more into social media because they have seen a great return on their investment. This is true for companies large and small.