Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, PR 20, Social Media Marketing

AdAge Social Media Blindness

madcat AdAge Social Media BlindnessKen Wheaton penned an acidic column in AdAge that discounted the impact and legitimacy of social media. And not just in a “I’m not sure this social media thing is all it’s cracked up to be” kind of way, but with snarkiness, derision and hubris.

Here are excerpts from the piece, titled “Web 2.0 cured my cancer and made me taller – and rich!” where Wheaton pretends to be a Web 2.0 fanatic:

“Thanks to a steady diet of Lolcat building and YouTube commenting, 95% of my cancer has been eradicated. An active Twitter life – Ken is watching “House”; Ken is watching “Fringe”; Ken is watching “The Girl With Giant Legs” – also added a full six inches to my stature.”

and

“You naysayers can laugh all you want. You’re just troglodytes caught up in old world illusions like “ROI” and “profit” and “sales.”…You talk trash about Web 2.0 and we’ll use the power of social media to bankrupt you just like we did Pepsi and Motrin.”

This is just sneering of the highest order. In one column, Wheaton demonstrates he not only knows little about how social media is used (his Twitter example alone demonstrates his utter lack of social media experience), but compares it to Betamax.

I wonder if Comcast believes social media has no ROI? I wonder if Southwest Airlines believes social media hasn’t generated sales? How about Ford with Scott Monty running the social media program. What about Papa John’s, which has 200,000+ Facebook fans, and has sold millions of dollars of pizza online as a result?

Smashing the Crystal Ball

It’s easy to take the position that anything new that threatens the established order of advertising and marketing is trivial, and to write vitriolic columns to that effect. Because if in fact the hot new thing fades, you can crow about your prescience down the road.

It’s much harder to take the position that the new kid heralds something bigger – a fundamental change in the way consumers want to interact with the brands they support. I’ll be happy to take that road.

The fact is that twice as many people log on to Facebook every month as watch American Idol, and the “old media” that Ken Wheaton and his masters at AdAge represent is withering both figuratively and literally (based on the ever-decreasing page width of many daily newspapers).

It’s both distasteful and irresponsible for such a respected, widely read publication as AdAge to completely disregard social media, even in a column. But, these are the same guys that dismissed the Web as a whole, banner ads, email marketing, paid search and every other online development as a bunch of hooey.

I don’t mind blowhards. And I don’t mind people being wrong. But I can’t stand them in combination.

Interestingly, Wheaton is on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn.

Maybe Ken is coming around, as he’s been pushing 20 tweets a day lately. I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

(photo by joeltelling)

 

 

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  • http://www.inktel.com/ Beatriz Alemar

    You aren’t the only one. It was a very foolish, disrespectful, and unprofessional thing for Ken to do. What companies need to master now is the combination of the “old” and the “new.” In my opinion, you need both. One builds awareness and the other builds relationships – both equally important. If marketers continue to “poo poo” social media, they are going to miss out. It’s the same as Ford saying they don’t need to build fuel efficient vehicles because what they do traditionally works. And look where they are now… Embrace innovation. Embrace your customers.

    Beatriz Alemar’s last blog post..Direct Marketing: Alive and Well in the Hispanic Market

  • http://www.inktel.com Beatriz Alemar

    You aren’t the only one. It was a very foolish, disrespectful, and unprofessional thing for Ken to do. What companies need to master now is the combination of the “old” and the “new.” In my opinion, you need both. One builds awareness and the other builds relationships – both equally important. If marketers continue to “poo poo” social media, they are going to miss out. It’s the same as Ford saying they don’t need to build fuel efficient vehicles because what they do traditionally works. And look where they are now… Embrace innovation. Embrace your customers.

    Beatriz Alemar’s last blog post..Direct Marketing: Alive and Well in the Hispanic Market

  • http://www.weidert.com/ Greg Linnemanstons

    Good call! I think what you’re seeing is fear manifested as arrogance. I’m a small agency owner, and I understand the fear of the unknown vividly! We’re moving aggressively into SM as a new frontier that has incredible promise to us, but selling that to clients is another story! So it’s no surprise that Wheaton if furiously Twittering. He’s racing to catch up with something he knows he doesn’t understand completely, and that’s a damn uncomfortable place to be.

  • http://www.weidert.com Greg Linnemanstons

    Good call! I think what you’re seeing is fear manifested as arrogance. I’m a small agency owner, and I understand the fear of the unknown vividly! We’re moving aggressively into SM as a new frontier that has incredible promise to us, but selling that to clients is another story! So it’s no surprise that Wheaton if furiously Twittering. He’s racing to catch up with something he knows he doesn’t understand completely, and that’s a damn uncomfortable place to be.

  • jeff

    Anyone who invokes troglodyte is an asshole. Furthermore, there are people who take the time to educate themselves and understand the impact of marketing trends and those who fear change. Wheaton is obviously from the old school and will have his lunch summarily eaten by the new guard who ‘get it’. AdAge as much of the traditional advertising genre will soon find themselves in the past tense.

  • jeff

    Anyone who invokes troglodyte is an asshole. Furthermore, there are people who take the time to educate themselves and understand the impact of marketing trends and those who fear change. Wheaton is obviously from the old school and will have his lunch summarily eaten by the new guard who ‘get it’. AdAge as much of the traditional advertising genre will soon find themselves in the past tense.

  • http://twitter.com/michaeljbarber/status/ Michael Barber

    Yeah @jaybaer just (not surprisingly) schooled AdAge http://bit.ly/1AFW.

  • http://adage.com/adages Ken Wheaton

    Blindness, right?
    Here’s some things you’re readers might be interested in seeing:
    1) It took you a whole month to notice the column
    2) Even Stevie Wonder could see that the column was a satire
    3) Two tweets just today from one of many Ad Age feeds: http://tinyurl.com/ba9x8u and http://tinyurl.com/cagnx7
    4) http://adage.com/digital
    5) And, finally, how about the full disclosure that you, someone who stands to make money off of convincing clients that social media will cure all their marketing ills, approached us repeatedly last year to blog for us?

    Here’s a clue: Pretty much anyone working in marketing and writing about it knows that social media is a tool that, like a thirty-second spot, is good at doing some things, not so good at others. It’s good at connecting people, following consumer response. It’s NOT good, for the most part, at mass-scale product launches.

    This is about the fifth time I’ve come here today to counter your utterly ridiculous and over the top post, but I kept deleting my comment because … well, why bother? Then I thought that might be a little condescending on my part, not to treat you like an equal. Besides, you keep trying to drive traffic to it as if begging for someone to notice.

    So I noticed the post. I also noticed that it exactly proved my point about the type of humorless, social-media ‘gurus’ out there trying to “convince and convert” everyone to the belief that there’s nothing social media can’t do.

    Ken Wheaton’s last blog post..Saving the World, One Tweetup at a Time

  • http://adage.com/adages Ken Wheaton

    Blindness, right?
    Here’s some things you’re readers might be interested in seeing:
    1) It took you a whole month to notice the column
    2) Even Stevie Wonder could see that the column was a satire
    3) Two tweets just today from one of many Ad Age feeds: http://tinyurl.com/ba9x8u and http://tinyurl.com/cagnx7
    4) http://adage.com/digital
    5) And, finally, how about the full disclosure that you, someone who stands to make money off of convincing clients that social media will cure all their marketing ills, approached us repeatedly last year to blog for us?

    Here’s a clue: Pretty much anyone working in marketing and writing about it knows that social media is a tool that, like a thirty-second spot, is good at doing some things, not so good at others. It’s good at connecting people, following consumer response. It’s NOT good, for the most part, at mass-scale product launches.

    This is about the fifth time I’ve come here today to counter your utterly ridiculous and over the top post, but I kept deleting my comment because … well, why bother? Then I thought that might be a little condescending on my part, not to treat you like an equal. Besides, you keep trying to drive traffic to it as if begging for someone to notice.

    So I noticed the post. I also noticed that it exactly proved my point about the type of humorless, social-media ‘gurus’ out there trying to “convince and convert” everyone to the belief that there’s nothing social media can’t do.

    Ken Wheaton’s last blog post..Saving the World, One Tweetup at a Time

  • Jason Baer

    @beatriz @greg @jeff – Thanks for your support and for taking the time to read and comment.

    @Ken – Sincere thanks for responding. Although we clearly disagree on this one, I really appreciate you leaving a comment.

    Just a couple of points of clarification.

    - It did not take me a month to notice the column. I read the blog the minute it was published, as I have all AdAge blogs on an RSS feed. It took me one hour after I read it to write it. I then held the post for 6 weeks to make sure I still felt the same way. I did, so I published it.

    - I agree that it was satirical to some degree. However, as commenters above and others on Twitter have mentioned, it was not wholly interpreted that way. Probably not the most objective audience i recognize, but clearly if it was entirely satirical it was unsuccessful in that conveyance.

    - I did not say, nor do I believe, that AdAge does a poor job covering social media or digital marketing. If it did, I would not subscribe to the RSS feeds. I do feel AdAge (and it was not alone by any stretch of the imagination) missed the boat at the dawn of the digital marketing age (I was working as an Internet consultant in 1994, and have been a reader since 1988). My opinion is that AdAge (perhaps rightly) is taking a largely wait and see approach to social media as a discipline (if it can be called that – perhaps not). And while many individual items about social media have made AdAge and continue to, I don’t feel it’s appropriate for you or any other major writer to slam a fast moving, emerging marketing discipline – for laughs or otherwise.

    - I’m not sure how disclosing that I’ve offered to write blog posts for AdAge is relevant. I never said nobody should read AdAge. I said that in my opinion your column was baseless and childish. But in the interest of disclosure, I’m happy to report that I called and emailed you several times about writing for your AdAge Small Agency blog. You apparently did not and do not have an interest in me doing so, which is fine. I’ve got several other writing gigs now, and I’m sure your blogs will continue to thrive without my contributions. For the record, however, I’m still interested.

    - I don’t believe letting people know that I’ve written something constitutes as begging for attention. If it does, you might want to look at the multiple emails I get from AdAge each day that do the exact same thing. Twitter is opt in. Facebook is opt in. Email is opt in. Easy to turn the channel if it bothers you.

    - I would argue that even a cursory review of my work would indicate that I am far from humorless, and in fact generally include a great deal of humor in my work. Additionally, I am by no means a social media “guru”, and certainly do not proclaim or advertise as such. Anyone who says they have something as fast moving and dynamic as social media figured out, by definition does not.

    - Because I have been in marketing for 20 years, and digital marketing for nearly 15, I very much do NOT believe that social media is all powerful. In fact, I’m genuinely delighted that you and I are on precisely the same page with regard to social media’s limitations as a marketing outreach tactic. To me, social media’s highest calling is as a customer loyalty and retention mechanism, not as a customer acquisition mechanism. My post about the difference between “social media” and “social media marketing” can be found here. http://www.convinceandconvert.com/integrated-marketing-and-media/when-a-verb-became-a-noun-the-conflicting-faces-of-social-media/

    My post about the fact that we all need to “Stop Swooning Over Social Media” is here http://www.convinceandconvert.com/integrated-marketing-and-media/stop-swooning-over-social-media/

    While I do indeed work with agencies and corporations on their social media (and email) strategy, I am by no means a mindless cheerleader, and I’d hope that a review of any of my posts beyond the one upon which you commented would indicate that clearly.

    Again, thanks for making the effort to comment. I sincerely hope you’ll return again under friendlier circumstances, as all perspectives are valued and welcomed here – and that’s why social media kicks ass. ;)

  • Jason Baer

    @beatriz @greg @jeff – Thanks for your support and for taking the time to read and comment.

    @Ken – Sincere thanks for responding. Although we clearly disagree on this one, I really appreciate you leaving a comment.

    Just a couple of points of clarification.

    - It did not take me a month to notice the column. I read the blog the minute it was published, as I have all AdAge blogs on an RSS feed. It took me one hour after I read it to write it. I then held the post for 6 weeks to make sure I still felt the same way. I did, so I published it.

    - I agree that it was satirical to some degree. However, as commenters above and others on Twitter have mentioned, it was not wholly interpreted that way. Probably not the most objective audience i recognize, but clearly if it was entirely satirical it was unsuccessful in that conveyance.

    - I did not say, nor do I believe, that AdAge does a poor job covering social media or digital marketing. If it did, I would not subscribe to the RSS feeds. I do feel AdAge (and it was not alone by any stretch of the imagination) missed the boat at the dawn of the digital marketing age (I was working as an Internet consultant in 1994, and have been a reader since 1988). My opinion is that AdAge (perhaps rightly) is taking a largely wait and see approach to social media as a discipline (if it can be called that – perhaps not). And while many individual items about social media have made AdAge and continue to, I don’t feel it’s appropriate for you or any other major writer to slam a fast moving, emerging marketing discipline – for laughs or otherwise.

    - I’m not sure how disclosing that I’ve offered to write blog posts for AdAge is relevant. I never said nobody should read AdAge. I said that in my opinion your column was baseless and childish. But in the interest of disclosure, I’m happy to report that I called and emailed you several times about writing for your AdAge Small Agency blog. You apparently did not and do not have an interest in me doing so, which is fine. I’ve got several other writing gigs now, and I’m sure your blogs will continue to thrive without my contributions. For the record, however, I’m still interested.

    - I don’t believe letting people know that I’ve written something constitutes as begging for attention. If it does, you might want to look at the multiple emails I get from AdAge each day that do the exact same thing. Twitter is opt in. Facebook is opt in. Email is opt in. Easy to turn the channel if it bothers you.

    - I would argue that even a cursory review of my work would indicate that I am far from humorless, and in fact generally include a great deal of humor in my work. Additionally, I am by no means a social media “guru”, and certainly do not proclaim or advertise as such. Anyone who says they have something as fast moving and dynamic as social media figured out, by definition does not.

    - Because I have been in marketing for 20 years, and digital marketing for nearly 15, I very much do NOT believe that social media is all powerful. In fact, I’m genuinely delighted that you and I are on precisely the same page with regard to social media’s limitations as a marketing outreach tactic. To me, social media’s highest calling is as a customer loyalty and retention mechanism, not as a customer acquisition mechanism. My post about the difference between “social media” and “social media marketing” can be found here. http://www.convinceandconvert.com/integrated-marketing-and-media/when-a-verb-became-a-noun-the-conflicting-faces-of-social-media/

    My post about the fact that we all need to “Stop Swooning Over Social Media” is here http://www.convinceandconvert.com/integrated-marketing-and-media/stop-swooning-over-social-media/

    While I do indeed work with agencies and corporations on their social media (and email) strategy, I am by no means a mindless cheerleader, and I’d hope that a review of any of my posts beyond the one upon which you commented would indicate that clearly.

    Again, thanks for making the effort to comment. I sincerely hope you’ll return again under friendlier circumstances, as all perspectives are valued and welcomed here – and that’s why social media kicks ass. ;)

  • http://adage.com/adages Ken Wheaton

    All this reasonable back and forth is no way to start a Twitter Feud!

    Ken Wheaton’s last blog post..Saving the World, One Tweetup at a Time

  • http://adage.com/adages Ken Wheaton

    All this reasonable back and forth is no way to start a Twitter Feud!

    Ken Wheaton’s last blog post..Saving the World, One Tweetup at a Time

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  • http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com/ Mark Allen Roberts

    Great post,
    A new day has dawned and ad firms and ad age needs to develop a compentancy in reaching buyers the way they chose to be reached today.
    If not, they can write additional content about the commoditization of the ad firm services. I wrote about this in my post : 88% of Those Surveyed Said Advertising Services Have Become Commoditized? Ad Firms Heal Thy Self! http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/88-of-those-surveyed-said-advertising-services-have-become-commoditized-ad-firms-heal-thy-self/ .

    Mark Allen Roberts
    .-= Mark Allen Roberts´s last blog ..Mentor Moment #8: “Haste makes Waste” =-.

  • http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com Mark Allen Roberts

    Great post,
    A new day has dawned and ad firms and ad age needs to develop a compentancy in reaching buyers the way they chose to be reached today.
    If not, they can write additional content about the commoditization of the ad firm services. I wrote about this in my post : 88% of Those Surveyed Said Advertising Services Have Become Commoditized? Ad Firms Heal Thy Self! http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/88-of-those-surveyed-said-advertising-services-have-become-commoditized-ad-firms-heal-thy-self/ .

    Mark Allen Roberts
    .-= Mark Allen Roberts´s last blog ..Mentor Moment #8: “Haste makes Waste” =-.

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