There’s that word "creepy" again. When Facebook changed settings a while back and suddenly made wall scratchings public, kids called that creepy. They’re calling it creepy lately with the rush of business people jumping in. And perhaps my favorite use in this context is in Your Brand is Not My Friend, a post on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog. Whoever Tangerine Toad is…well, read this quote:
I mean when you think of it, it’s kind of creepy. Facebook is the 21st century diner or malt shop. It’s where teens and young adults go to hang out.
And the last thing they want is some salesperson coming up in their face and trying to have a "conversation" with them while they’re figuring out when they’re going to the movies. They don’t want to talk to you. They want to talk to their friends.
Right on, as we used to say a lot of years ago, when I was a college student. Who are we kidding?
The whole appeal of social media sites is their independence from corporate advertisers. People like the fact that they can say whatever they want to their friends without any interference from anyone or anything that seems "official" or "corporate."
So I’m not sure where we’ve developed this conceit that people want to hear from brands. Because they truly don’t. At least not in settings where the primary objective is to talk to and interact with your actual friends. (And your brands, people, are not our friends.)
You probably know this, but I didn’t. Toad is a regular at Marketing Profs Daily Fix, remains anonymous, but works as the creative director of a New York ad agency. He’s got a strong gust of very refreshing real air in this post poking fun at the idea that sales people are friends and advertising is a conversation. It reminds me of Seth Godin’s often-used metaphor of advertising as shouting at people.
He suggests that a very few well-known brands are "prom" brands. He suggests Nike, Apple, Whole Foods, and Starbucks as examples. These brands can define the interaction. Other brands have to focus on getting in where they can.
So if your strength is you don’t cost a whole lot, you need to find a bunch of Cheapskates and then adapt yourself to their needs. And you absolutely have to do it as a salesperson. Because you can’t ever pretend you’re doing anything but selling them.
Which, I guess, means you can’t just declare yourself something you aren’t. Social media doesn’t turn brands into friends, and it’s comforting, to me at least, to be reminded that hanging out where friends hang out doesn’t mean you aren’t still just selling. And it also means I’ll be back at Marketing Profs Daily Fix more often, some good stuff there.
Now, if we could only get them to realize that before they call my house after dinner to sell me something …