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Social marketing… the adventure begins…

Written by

Andrew Millar

Date

December 7, 2008

Last week I attended a conference on ‘social marketing via the internet and its implications for brands and advertisers’.

A good deal of it was irrelevant, biased and misguided as most of it was presented as though every other advertising communication format was going to die because of Facebook and Twitter. It is the same argument that suggested video will kill cinema, television will decimate radio and the camera will cause everyone who says “Can I paint your house?” to spread a canvas over your furniture not over a metre square wooden frame on an easel. However you can still learn a terrific amount from people you disagree with. This can often be more than listening to people you do agree with. It is amazing how a one-sided mental argument can sharpen your resolve.

I’ll spill more of my thoughts in The Bleat over the coming weeks but I wanted to comment today on one form of communication that will go the way of cave painting, the dinosaur and men standing up when a woman enters the room.

Because, quite frankly, by the end of a speech made by the editor of news.com.au I sat convinced that the newspaper as we know it was dead and buried, composted and recycled as beer boxes.

It only took one PowerPoint slide to do it.

The slide in queston listed the criteria that the journalists working on a news.com.au site had to fulfill when submitting a story. It included the requirements of a photo gallery, ‘click throughs’ to other websites and crossreferences, and points designed to draw comments from readers etc. It was quite a comprehensive list.

Except that it did not contain the requirements of truth, balance and integrity.

When questioned, he said these were a ‘given’. And I formed the opinion that they needed to be included right at the top, in big fat Gill Sans Bold, because there is a trend emerging to raise the question that this trilogy is already being ignored.

The truth therefore might be that journalists themselves will kill newspapers. About 10 years ago journalists simply turned into court reporters. All they did was hang about the steps and photograph people as they leave. A great day for news would be when one covered his face as he left. It’s basic stuff but it is not news!

But journalists have become one further step removed from the truth as has now they just hang about the steps of Facebook, Youtube, MySpace and Twitter for their stories.

He claimed proudly that it was MySpace that broke the news that Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter was pregnant. It is hardly Nixon, Woodward and Bernstein stuff.

Take as another example a case where a newspaper used Wikipedia as a source for an article… however the article was not attributed to any source. So it was not notated… but once the article appeared in the paper, Wikipedia claimed that as their source… and the Wiki entry was validated. So a lie is reported and it becomes the truth simply because it appears in print.

Another example was provided by the Editor himself. Apparently eyewitness reports are often drawn from chat sites. Again no validation. No verification. This was rife during the recent earthquakes in China as the papers won’t pay for anyone to actually travel to the disaster area!

Newspapers will die because truth, balance and integrity are gone, replaced by gossip from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. But I think people enjoy ‘good’ writing. I just think newspapers can’t be bothered.

But I’ve decided to experiment in this digital social world. I have been here for 2 years with the Bleat. I decide to add another blog to my life. Please look at http://web.mac.com/andrewmi for a journal on my studies in Flamenco guitar. I have joined Facebook and have 7 friends so far including Mehmet Çömlek from Turkey who lists Women as his interest. Come and be my friend and use it to comment back on the stuff I’m posting. I have also posted a few photos on Flickr under the name of ‘The Apophenist’ and will ad more when I have time. I’m just interested to see what happens…

Andrew Millar

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