Andrew Teman

Posts tagged media
Why Bother With Social Media?

I’ve been asking the following question of my peers (as well as myself lately), and getting some really interesting answers - if any answers at all.

If you are responsible for allocating marketing budgets for a brand (any brand really), how do you justify spending a dollar on social media over some other channel (print, tv, pr, content, etc.)?

Or, even more directly:

Why bother spending any time or money on social media?

And for clarity, I’m talking about the earned, organic, content-calendar, community manager, lets-build-conversation, engagement stuff here. The things that require man-hours, software, creatives, listening systems and the like. Not buying ads on social platforms (that’s just advertising).

Unsurprisingly, these questions, when asked directly, seem to cause some rambling panicked responses, and momentary crises of identity amongst my social media practitioner friends.

Because deep down, they, like me, realize that the charade is over. That the once grand promise of social media as a beautiful brand engagement tool, has gone generally unfulfilled. 

It’s a tough realization, and I’ve taken no small amount of angry shit from my colleagues in pushing these questions. In part, because there’s this sense that if you’re in the game, you’re in the game.

We’re all in this together. The agencies sell the platforms, the platforms sell the engagement, the other agency sells the measurement (which always says “it’s working!”), and we all get paid. By the time anyone starts asking questions, it’s too late because no one in this industry stays anywhere for more than a year or two and we’ve all moved onto new jobs.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

But that hyperbolic collusion rhetoric aside, there are some real, honest questions about the efficacy of social media and value of investing in the building of “brand communities”.

The biggest problem that we can’t just sweep under the rug, is that broadly speaking, the average person gives zero shits about your brand at all, let alone connecting with it. In social media or otherwise.

We’re trying desperately to force a selfish narrative (that people want to engage with brands), when in fact the exact opposite is true.

People far smarter than I, have put this more eloquently than I ever could, so here are some quotes on the topic that I love.

First, from Seth Godin.

Start by understanding that no one cares about (the brand). People care about themselves. Anyone who tweets about a brand or favorites a brand is doing it because it is a symbol of who they are–it is a token, it is a badge. It’s about them, it’s not about the brand.

Next, from one of my favorite pieces of content, ever.

Our challenge is that people are not paying attention. Our challenge is that people really don’t care. Our task is not nurturing enthusiasm, but overcoming indifference.

So then, why are we spending so much money trying to make social media work, when the audience doesn’t care, and the efforts lag so far behind other mediums in terms of driving business growth?


Seems like your time and money is still better spent on the classics - paid search and email. It may be un-sexy, but it’s hard to argue.

But brands that set smart social goals, are making it work!” you say.
I’d say that this is a false construct peddled by those who benefit from the idea that social media works and is necessary. Meaning, we’re creating arbitrary social media goals to justify what we’ve already decided wewant to do, versus allowing broader business goals to lead us into the proper channels with the proper investment. Which often times, won’t be social. When you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

“But we’re getting great engagement on our content!”
you argue.
The question isn’t whether or not people will engage with puppies and babies and click bait on Facebook (they will). The question is, what impact do those engagements really have on your brand and business? Again, we’re feeding into a false-construct of our own making. We decided that engagement = success, and then we figured out how to game the system so that we get engagement. But despite all of that engagement, social falls flat (and hard) when it comes to actually moving the needle where it matters.

“But Facebook fans of XYZ brand spend twice as much than non-fans!” you plead.
This has always been a favorite of mine. Aside from the fact that the “data” here is dubious (“much of the data thus far has been anecdotal”), this argument is also a wonderful case of the confirmation bias approach that the industry takes to justify its existence. Is it also possible for instance, that heavy spenders are more likely to become fans? I know that’s an inconvenient possibility, but it is a possibility, yes? I fully expect select parts of this J.Crew story to be used ad infinitum in social media presentations henceforth.

I could go on, and talk about the myriad other arguments that I hear in support of social media, but my point is a fairly direct and simple one:

If you are an individual who is responsible for deciding where to spend your marketing resources (time and money), you need to ask your agency and your team why you should bother with social media at all. And you are owed good, honest answers to that question.

I met with someone last week, a marketing director for a near 100 year old financial institution that catered to immigrant families and the local community. She was concerned that they were “behind”, because they didn’t have a robust social media presence. As the discussion went on, we all agreed that they’re not losing customers because of their social media absence, and they’re not likely to grow the business based on their social media presence.

But prior to our chat, she’d seen a parade of agencies talking about big digital ecosystems, and the need to “engage” with their customers in social, as if not doing so made her a marketing pariah.

Of course each of these recommendations came without any consideration as to how doing these things would help her business - or even if at the most basic, whether or not these were the right channels for her to focus her limited time and resources on.

They were selling her what they had, not what she needed.

So I’d ask again (as I did in that meeting), why bother?

Re-Thinking 'Media'

I think a lot about what ‘media’ means, and what it will come to mean in the future. I don’t have the answers of course, but I do have some theories, and an extraordinary desire to think of ways in which my clients can spend their media dollars in the new world, that don’t rely exclusively on the old tricks (banners, static print inserts, etc).

Something I do know though, is that the old ways aren’t dying, they’re dead. Any brand or agency that is looking at media only in terms of dollars poured into a fixed digital square, and then counting the number of impressions that come out the other end, isn’t properly exploring the full range of opportunities that exist.

The responsibility of deciding how communications dollars are spent can no longer be the sole domain of the traditional media departments. The way brands communicate and people consume, is just no longer linear and fixed - no matter how many dollars people continue to pour into existing systems and spaces hoping that it is.

B. Bonin Bough had a thoughtful piece in AdAge today, and this particular passage stuck out for me:

It starts with seeing media as investment, not just inventory, with a focus on increasing overall ROI. By tracking how every touchpoint contributes to a growing communication mix across channels, including paid, owned and earned, we can better equip ourselves to deliver media at the most effective points in the consumer journey. We’re asking ourselves: Where do we have the most disruptive opportunities and how should we leverage them?

I love the idea of media as investment and not as inventory.

Media is content. Media is design. Media is experience. Media is your retail space and media is your product. Media is how you see, touch, smell and feel the brand, as much as it is how you hear its message.

'Media’ opportunities exist within every single possible touch between people and your brand, and not just within the pages of a magazine, or the 300x250 boxes on a website.


It's Not Social Media OR Traditional Media

I posted this out to Twitter earlier, with no context, because I was annoyed with something I had just seen, also posted to Twitter.

Now to be fair, I happened to see this via Adrian, but I am not picking on him. This same article and infographic is/was Tweeted and ReTweeted A LOT. By A LOT of people. Which is, in and of itself, part of the issue. We don’t really read or think about things. We just re-tweet the link, along with its sneering headline, emphasis on INFOGRAPHIC (scream it with me!), and we pat ourselves on the back for doing a little social-media-reputation-arbitrage.

In addition to the way these posts make their way around the web, I’ve also got issue with this post’s content (and infographic) specifically.

What this infographic seems to be implying, is that “Social” media and “Traditional” media are two distinct things, and that “Social” media is better/more-effective than “Traditional” media. It’s cheaper, it’s more trusted, it’s more efficient, and it’s easier to measure (what??). While it doesn’t necessarily say all of this explicitly (in fact it hedges in the fine fine fine print at the bottom, that I’m sure EVERYONE totally read), it certainly leads the reader in that direction.

And in this distinction between the mediums, and in this heavy lean towards social as the “winner”, and in our blind Tweeting and ReTweeting of this content, it exposes how many of us think so myopically about social media. 

Far too many social media professionals are looking at traditional media as the enemy, and that’s a huge mistake. And in my opinion, going too far down this road as a social media professional, is ultimately a fatal mistake career-wise.

The days of “social media” as a discreet thing, are numbered, and the days of those who fail to see how social and traditional media connect together to increase impact and feed off of one another, are also numbered.

At our agency, we handle both social and traditional media for several of clients that have brick-and-mortar locations. When traditional media is in heavy-rotation, those brands see all of their key metrics go up. Brand awareness goes up, foot-traffic goes up, and sales go up. This is the case for every brand that I’ve ever worked with, that uses traditional media.

We use social media strategically to support and extend the traditional media weights and sometimes we do the reverse. But we always think about how the mediums can work together.  

From smart integration, comes impact.

So, stop looking at traditional media as the enemy that social media must defeat, and start looking at traditional media as another key ingredient in a smart and integrated marketing plan.

The Obama campaign’s “experiment-informed programs”—known as EIP in the lefty tactical circles where they’ve become the vogue in recent years—are designed to track the impact of campaign messages as voters process them in the real world, instead of relying solely on artificial environments like focus groups and surveys. The method combines the two most exciting developments in electioneering practice over the last decade: the use of randomized, controlled experiments able to isolate cause and effect in political activity and the microtargeting statistical models that can calculate the probability a voter will hold a particular view based on hundreds of variables.
The Death of the Hunch
Transcendent Social Media

I’ve been thinking a ton about bridging the digital/social/real worlds lately. I love stuff like this, where online tech comes to life in offline arenas. Those that think about social media (or shit, even just media in general) as being contained within the obvious spots, are missing the possibilities out there.

Through its new “Fashion Like” initiative, C&A has posted photos of a number of the clothing items it sells on a dedicated Facebook page, where it invites customers to “like” the ones that appeal to them. Special hooks on the racks in its bricks-and-mortar store, meanwhile, can then display those votes in real time, giving in-store shoppers a clear indication of each item’s online popularity.

I am certain that the battle of the next generation of internet businesses will be made up of who has more data and who knows how to use it better than anyone else. Naturally, then, I have a really keen interest in spending time with people who understand that. I’m not talking about your classic segmentation stuff. It’s the segmentation of one and what the data of one tells you about what to do next. That’s fascinating. If this business is going to be really successful five years from now, we’ll get this right better than anyone else.
The key to Yahoo’s long term success is data…