Prattle & Jaw

Two blogs about a whole lot of nothing

Saturated Social

Another article for The Danish Communication Association. This time, a questionning one - would love to have comments.

I’ve been talking to my friends at work recently about when Facebook arrived and how we adjusted to it. I for one was (very amusingly) not convinced. I was active on MySpace (as it was called then), and loved the customisation it offered. Facebook, in my eyes, was a dull, generic platform, and anyway – I didn’t know anyone on it.

Oh dear.

Today, as we all know, Facebook has seen the death of multiple other social platforms, and has evolved into the massive network it is now, with over 500,000,000 active members, not to mention an Oscar winning film made about it.

Impressive, or overwhelming?

The same can be said of YouTube and other networks; they’re huge and they’re pretty much saturated. Try finding the genuine ‘official music video of XXX’ and you’ll be gone for days. Facebook a brand (it’s even a verb!) and chances are you’ll be offered community pages, places, groups, fan pages – both official and actual ‘fan’ fan pages – links, posts, photos – the lot. Viral videos aren’t what they used to be – one pops up every minute, from sneezing baby pandas, to people loving cats a little too much – it’s hard to put something online with impact that lasts for more than a day. It’s definitely safe to say that social media are integrated in to our daily lives, our daily routines, our personal habits, our shopping habits and our learning habits. Would it be too wrong to say that it’s about time they moved from being called ‘new’ media, to just other media?

Often, it’s all a little too much. Of course, we don’t have to ‘like’ brands, companies or people, but if we want to stay up to date with, well, everything, or if we want that special Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare deal, then you’d better like, check in, follow or become the mayor. I can’t help but wonder how far we are away from becoming sick and tired of all the social media marketing we have to put up with. We’re already familiar with the various quotes about how many advertisements we’re bombarded with daily in terms of TV, radio and outdoor – how many do social media contribute towards this today? With sponsored tweets (when a company pays to have it’s tweets show up first when it is searched for on Twitter – aka. adverts), Facebook ads, YouTube ads, blogs with ads – it’s overwhelming.

This combination of constant – and in this day and age, I really do mean constant – bombardment of adverts, and with such a large amount of brands and companies active on social media, is really taking the ‘new’ out of new media, and making it, in my opinion, exactly the same as any other media. It’s exhausting.

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the reaction I was supposed to have after watching the video below, but all I could think was, ‘but for how long?’

Encouraging or oppressive?

Sure, you might hear that companies heavily engaged with social media marketing make more profit, revenue and bring in more customers than those who neglect it, but how long is that going to last? To quote Groove Armada, if everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other. When every brand and business are tweeting, Facebooking, Foursquaring and everything-else-ing – what then? As with TV, we’ll see the odd ingenious marketing effort popping through, but the vast majority? Yawn.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m more than aware of the need to be on social media, and we’re a long way off seeing every brand and company active, and of course there is also a vast difference between simply communicating and marketing.  Yet social media are what websites were in the 90s. If you’re not there, you might as well not exist. I firmly believe that brands and companies should be on social media – those that aren’t today most definitely should be. Their entire present and future customer base are probably active there, so they should be too, and it’s precisely in that point that the quandary lies. You have to be on social media – everyone is. So how do you stand out? Sound familiar? TV and radio ring a bell? Back to square one.

This post might seem a bit rambling, and I apologise if it does, but it’s something that has been on my mind for sometime, and I’m eager to see what other people think. I don’t mean to imply that social media marketing has had its day, just that it will, and that I don’t think that day is all that far away.

What do you think?

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.