Thursday, March 05, 2009
Can we figure out what the rules are first before we start breaking them?
This has been a pretty interesting week to sit back and observe the blogosphere/twittersphere/socialsphere.
First, we had Skittlegate. I blogged about Skittle's new 'social' strategy here Monday. By now, the Skittles' homepage has switched to having its Facebook fan page be the default. MediaPost even claimed originally that this move was prompted by backlash from internet users, but they later acknowledged that the site was simply switched and that the Twitter page was still on the site.
Then we had Forrester issuing a report on what it calls 'Sponsored Conversations'. This also led to backlash in the blogosphere.
As I was mulling over these two stories, I thought about the label of the 'social media expert'. How many posts have been devoted to those three words? How anyone that claims they're a social media expert is a snakeoil salesman, and that no one can claim to be an expert in social media. That the space is too new, and that we are all still learning. And for the most part, I completely agree with that position.
But then there's this...
If no one is a social media expert, how can so many people make definitive judgments on this space? On Monday, a mere handful of hours after news of Skittles' new homepage hit Twitter, I saw several people on there claiming that 'this campaign is a disaster/failure'. After 12 hours?!? We constantly preach about how there are no social media experts and how we want to see companies experiment with social media. Then as soon as a company does, we put on our 'social media expert' cap and claim that the company that just started experimenting with social media, totally blew it.
Then with the 'sponsored conversations' debate it was the same thing. I saw people that accept advertising/sponsorships around their content, claiming that the idea of a sponsored post was wrong. How is one form of monetized content acceptable, and another isn't? Who gets to decide that? And who SHOULD be able to decide that? Again, if there are no 'social media experts', then who is qualified to act as such?
My take is this; this space is still growing, and still evolving. I applaud companies that are taking risks and joining this space right now. Do I think Skittles is doing a great job with their current campaign? No I don't, but I also know that this is a work in progress and that we are only seeing part of the final picture. Do I think that we are making too much of the label 'social media expert'? Yeah I do. It's a label, and I have to think that there's more important things to get upset about than what someone calls themselves (Besides it seems that almost all of the people that others claim are positioning themselves as 'experts' of social media, have never claimed they were). Lisa has a great post on why the 'don't call me a social media expert' stance might be completely wrong.
I think we all need to just chill a bit on accusing others of breaking the rules around social media. Like, until we first determine what those rules are.