Public Stoning at the Facebook Square

It is hard to argue against the fact that social media has given power back to the people.
Social Media was used with great artistry in 2008 when the Democrats appealed to a younger generation of Americans to vote Obama, the campaigns were so effective that they won advertising’s most respected prize, the Cannes  Lion. Also recently, it was Social Media that sparked a revolt against oppressive regimes in North Africa and the  Middle East, and became the tools for freedom in Egypt.  As Social Media becomes more and more widespread, the voice of the people,  becomes increasingly influential as it infiltrates  all facets of society, from journalism to even our justice system.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the case of Jill Meagher. A tragic story of a young journalist that was missing for days and eventually found dead. The story became a Social Media phenomenon, at first Social Media was helping search for Meagher, but when she was found dead, murdered, the concern that was being expressed, turned to grief and now anger.  “A Facebook hate group against the accused in the Meagher case has already attracted almost 18,000 “likes”. ” 

The concern that is expressed by Police and legal experts is that Social Media is influencing the case even before the facts are presented.

It prompted the Victorian Police to publish their own warning on Facebook…Social Media is the democratization of journalism, anyone can be published no matter what their qualifications on any particular topic. It becomes dangerous when a group, like in Meagher’s case, starts to react to emotion and forget about an individuals right to a fair trial.

So how do we curb the mob mentality in Social Media, can we punish those who behave irresponsibly, those who incite hate; set laws and parameters, that ultimately curb free speech. If we start policing Social Media, we loose what the medium has given us, the chance to voice our opinion without the fear of reprisal, the ability to cry ‘foul’ against behemoths like governments and corporations.

In my opinion there is no quick fix to the problem, the best course of action is to educate on what is responsible behaviour in Social Media. The appropriate behaviour will only come about when individuals start to realise that what they publish can cause harm to others.




Does Social Media Lead to Sales?

There have been a few studies that have shown that most people who are fans of brands are doing it to get special treatment, in the form of ‘freebies’ and discounted prices.  This  theory was again backed by a recent article from Mashable showed “82% of respondents said Facebook page is a good place to interact with brands”.  (Murphy S, Mashable, September 2012). But whilst on the surface these results are positive, a more detailed analysis explores the motivation behind the interaction.

The study was conducted by a market research company Lab 42 who surveyed 1000 Social media users. As the Infographic shows 87% of Social Media users do ‘like’ brands on Facebook, but out of those, the majority (55%) like brands because of either promotion, discounts or free giveaways.  Which leads to the number one reason that users interact with brands, to print off coupons.

What is poignant for marketers with ROI aspirations is that 46% of Social Media Users ‘liked’ a brand but had no reason to purchase. They either wanted a free product, they can’t afford the product or they were helping out a friend.

Since most people interacting with brands are after a freebie,  is  money in Social Media well spent? According to ‘2012 Social Media Marketing  Industry Report, How are marketers using Social Media to Grow their Business’, it is.

The study surveyed over 3,800 marketers, and revealed the following facts:

58% of businesses that have used social media marketing for over 3 years reported an increase in sales over that period

69% reported increase in traffic

75% are using social media to gain marketing intelligence

58% indicated generating leads a major benefit

85% of all businesses that have a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy reported an increase in their market exposure.

The results show that Social Media aids marketers in exposure and branding,  testing and market research;   it is also a source of leads and traffic to the website and most importantly over a three year period, Social Media increases sales.

I do agree that Social Media is important for all the above reasons, but the correlation between Social Media and sales is hard one to chew over, since a closer look at consumer behaviour with Social Media brands showed that about half, don’t have any intention to buy. Is this market research pitching to the converted, that is, marketing managers who just believe in the media… do fans of a brand  spend more than non fans, and can Social Media  change my purchase intentions?


Social Media Elitism…too cool for school?

There has been  a lot of talk recently about the increasing importance of social media influence. Marketers are now using social media to do what they have been doing for decades, that is, using the medium to create some exclusivity around a brand. Exclusivity, in most cases means being able to reject a user on the merits of their frequency, and quality, of engagement. Is this smart marketing or a way to just to create enemies of the brand.

Jasu ( is an online retailer that requires you to score a Klout score of 40 or more, if you have less than that, literally, ‘your money is no good here’.  Fair enough, we know the score,    the same sort of deal as when the plastic blonde at the door of the hottest night club  gives you the ‘sorry guys we are full tonight’. Only to open the gates to every man and his dog three months later, with the cash register sounding, Ka-tsing!. I dont think Jasu will work.  With a nightclub, perception is created around the fantasy about what is inside the club; the ambiance, the people, the architecture, the cocktails etc. With Jasu, you can actually go on the website, see the clothes, but you cannot buy. There is no mystique about blocking my path to the check out.

Similar tactics are used by Grey Coupon mustard whose Facebook page is coined the Society of Good Taste. Now it can be argued that this campaign is right on brand, that is, “only for  fans who are identified as having “good taste” can “like” it on the social network.

The app “searches and judges users’ profiles based on their proper use of grammar, art taste, check ins, book and movie selections, and so forth, and gives them a percentile score based on their refinement. However, if the algorithm detects poor taste in music or text-speak, for example, they could be rejected. Those who do not qualify will have their “like” deleted, and be asked to refine their profile before trying again”. (Advertising Age, Are You Refined Enough to Be a Fan of Grey Poupon’s Facebook Page?, September, 2012).


I did have a go at this because I thought it was a great creative idea. Until I was rejected for not being refined enough. Now, I admit that at times I may lack a bit of proper social etiquette, but I have traveled extensively, lived and worked in Europe and Asia, I have read Doestoyevsky, Miller, Milton, Kafka and Hemingway, studied Arts, I know how to pick a nice Bourgelais, smoked many Cuban cigars  and do like a spot of tennis (old chap). This may sound a bit like sulking, but damn it, I should be allowed to be a fan on the Grey Poupon Facebook page!.

The culmination of emotions will hit a zenith at the supermarket when I meet face to face with my tormentor. Will I be driven to purchase like some love lost puppy looking to reconcile? Nope, I will just go the next best looking french mustard and call it a day.