Social Media Punditry Needs to Die

When I first started this blog, I would do what seemed to be the de rigeur thing to do for a blog: write about how others were doing it wrong.

I had a full series that ended after a few posts - the Clueless Train, based on The Cluetrain Manifesto. If you search for the posts, you will be amused by the Technorati tags. The irony here is I never fully bought into the manifesto as it seemed to crap on public relations and dismiss what public relations did for a company, but I digress.

Anyway, I started doing what I believed (and still believe) social media bloggers and writers should all do: I did research and called up companies. You know, fact check. And grow up.

And when I called out others for spreading wrong information, fake information, dare I say alternative facts and fake news - I was told that “I’m not a reporter, Jeremy, I’m a blogger.”

Or as I call it, the laziness of wanting to be a pundit without doing actual work or thinking.

In other words, I grew up and matured and remembered what goes on behind the scenes. And having watched people go on the offensive against Kryptonite (for doing the right thing, just not the extended audiences) or against FedEx (it still boggles my mind that I was the only journalist or “journalist” to call up FedEx for a comment) or Red Lobster (ugh, shut up) or Wendy’s (she’s too snarky!) or any other brand that is doing a good job and jealousy rears her ugly green head… .

The problem is that social media punditry seems to be built on Monday morning quarterbacking. And seeming to willfully ignore that it is about the message (or messages) and not the medium. Sorry, pundits, social media is not an end-all, be-all but it is more about the messaging being on point and right for the audiences. That means any platform (gasp, television or radio or others).

If you have worked on the agency-side, you know the planning and strategies that go into a program, you know that you take the bullet if the program goes badly - we go down for the client, and you know that there are things you just cannot talk about.

If you have worked in-house, you know the processes for approvals, the voices that you strive to recreate in social to give your brand a personality and try to reflect the corporation as a whole.

And you know if things go badly, you fix on the fly and prepare for the crisis or crises that are coming from consumers.

The fake crises, though, are the ones that are brought up by others in our industry. You know, that whole professional courtesy thing seems to go out the door when it is easier to go on the offensive against someone else’s creative. And yes, we see it in the advertising trade publications all the time - and pointing out really bad campaigns is necessary, especially if they fall into the sexism, misogyny, racism or the sort.

And I get it; I did it too. It is easy to be snarky, but then I grew up. Meaning I am still snarky (just look at this post) but I know what goes into the campaigns and managing social. I know what it takes to find voices - a different tone for different platforms - and how hard it is to manage and find that right balance. Do I think and know I can come up with some better campaigns? Yes, but I also know I am not creatively bankrupt and immature enough to think across all generations. Or is that called both young at heart and old?

I rather have the attacks on colleagues in the industry than the viral ones I see against small, local businesses. Oh, you pundits who do this, you’re so better than them it is amazing that your egos are able to fit into anywhere you go. The reality is social is not easy, most local and small businesses do not have the budgets to hire professionals - or if they do hire someone, they’re a “professional” that has not explained the true costs and issues with social that likely learned from some online course that taught them nothing.

Instead of making the industry a better place, though, it is easier to attack others. Yay, go social.

The next time you see this happen - and we all see it happen - channel your Eddie Murphy from Raw.

Ask what they have done lately, ask what campaigns or work they have done. Or are they just too busy doing the speakers' circuit to have any idea what it is like in the trenches and on the front lines?
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