Social media is a different playground – please play nice

April 9th, 2009 by Jon Clements


The social media revolution is afoot – and we could be in the process of ruining it altogether.  

On the first point, thanks to Social Media Playground for bringing PR Media Blog’s attention to the latest research from IBM – “Beyond Advertising: choosing the strategic path for the digital consumer – which puts numbers against the current shift in consumer expectations and marketing responses.

The trends revealed in the study show US consumers wanting to be engaged with online: word of mouth and online marketing is expected to grow to 27% of overall expenditure by 2012 – up from 7% in 2002; 76% of people are watching video (up 27%) while 32% are consuming it on a mobile phone or other portable device. Advertisers are increasing online/interactive marketing spend by 63% and are engaging more in “brandsactional” advertising, by which I assume it means marketing activity that sits comfortably, rather than intrusively, in the social media arena.

So far, so good, right?

Well, on my second point, Spike Jones at Brains on Fire blog is already warning that the lunatics are taking over the asylum, with traditional marketers tumbling headlong into traditional methodologies that don’t belong in social media, namely making relentless noise, pushing out messages and screaming “listen to me!”.

It’s no surprise. Social media forces many marketing communciations people (across the spectrum of those with spiked hair, greying hair and those without hair) into a discomfort zone they’d rather not be. “Where’s the control? Do we really have to talk to the – urgh! – general public?” And this naturally brings a reversion to type; adopting the trusted methods of yore. Don’t get me wrong, many of yesterday’s practices remain relevant today, and may always have a role to play.

But treating social media as another medium to be “targeted” simply misses the point. As Spike Jones concludes, if marketers try to exploit social media to be the “centre of attention”, people will “just change the channel”.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

3 Responses to “Social media is a different playground – please play nice”

  1. Neena Says:


    Social media networks are good but then a person has to keep the balance between the personal and professional life!! Specially people who are in PR and marketing profession…

  2. Jon Says:

    Hi Neena
    Thanks for your comment, though I’m not sure I agree.

    Social media, ultimately, is about people and if the professional and personal begins to blur by interacting with others then so be it. I think the choice of how one uses social networks remains with the user; so I tend to use Facebook for friends I already know offline and Twitter for making new contacts. But then I have only one online identity and it would be unrealistic to create virtual walls between the personal and professional.

  3. Ade Says:

    Good piece. Which hair are you? Ade

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