Social Venom

snake_bite

What’s the difference between snake oil and snake venom?

Let’s recap the week.

Leigh Durst goes off on people stealing her hard earned, labor intensive work

Peter Kim laments the plague of plagiarism

David Armano discusses how to spot social media snake oil

Olivier Blanchard has called foul on bogus social media experts

Valeria Maltoni interviews Jonathan Bailey, the topic? Plagiarism Today

I wrote about Social Media might be free, but I’m not

Are you sensing a trend here? I am. That, my friend is what you call venom.  Oddly enough, none of the above posts were precipitated by the other. They all came out on their own, out of anger and frustration. And if I had taken more time, I probably would have found more posts.  Even more telling, is what you see in the comments. A lot of comments. More anger, more frustration.

I’m not sure I have a sure fire solution for any of these posts but I have a feeling that the days of wine and roses may be slowly coming to an end in some respects. If not an end, it certainly won’t be flowing like the wine at a Roman Bacchanalia. Content will be locked down more. Ideas and thoughts may not be so readily provided or shared as they once were.

Fortunately though, I have a feeling that Snake oil vendors will have a harder time of proving themselves. On the other hand, as I have experienced somewhat, we will have a harder time of climbing out of the hole that the purveyors of snake oil have dug for us with once burned clients.

I do have a feeling though, that this only the beginning, and that a larger backlash may be at hand. What to do about it is the question. A governing body? A policing body? I’m not sure. The floor is yours…

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10 Responses to “Social Venom”


  1. 1 Trey Pennington September 26, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    While certainly not a fan of the “can’t we all just get along” school of human relations, it would seem that the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme of Rodney King’s appeal.

    On the other hand, there are simply too many people passing themselves as marketing experts, publicity experts, writing experts, publishing experts, video experts, and on and on and on, just because someone retweeted something they produced. Sadly, these folks are taking money from clients who have no way of verifying expertise.

    Part of it is our own fault. The agency world pooh-poohed social media, stuck our collective heads in the sand, made fun of the emerging technology, and in the same spirit of the former Digital Equipment Corporation who pontificated, “I see no reason at all for anyone to own a computer for their home,” wrote off an entire sector without doing due diligence.

    The real professionals not only shot ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the other foot, and then in this hand, and then in that, because we were too sophisticated with what we already knew to take time to learn something new.

    Even more shocking, is, I think what we really did was display a colossal fear of the unknown and an unwillingness to learn something that MIGHT turn out to have been a waste of time. We wanted the sure thing, the measurable thing, and here’s the kicker, the thing we didn’t have to explain and sell to a hesitant client.

    We threw our clients to the snake oil salesmen and they are giving us our just comeupance.

    We have to stop chide the shysters and do the pioneering scientific work to prove or disprove strategies and tactics for our clients. It is simply shameful that a whole new silo has developed within the enterprise and a whole new industry in small business.

    We did this to ourselves. BMA, PRSA, AAA, etc. COULD have taken leadership. Instead, they all laughed and played with stuff that was safe.

    So, who’s going to step up and provide the leadership?

  2. 2 Albert Maruggi September 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Right on, it’s going to be OK. The people who can’t stand heat will leave, the snake oilers will move on to chia pets or something like that, and those that were burned because they got in for the wrong reason, like, it’s low cost or more leads, or you don’t need journalists, will need to rethink their perspective.

    This is a culture change, not a marketing tool gizmo. Consultants that didn’t want to tackle that big beast and flew in with quick fixes are now trying to figure out how to reframe the expectations.

    For this stuff to be more than “Green Direct Mail” it takes guts, vision, and a commitment to be better. And not just me (my company) getting better, but also you and other companies getting better.

    I have had occasion to listen to an interview I did with Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He captures what being social means, and more importantly, the depth to which the culture of an organization can improve. Can improvement occur without social media, of course, Levy contends. The fact, however, that the ugly and painstaking process to become is shared with others is one of the great benefits of social media which helps expedite the process.

  3. 3 Peter Kim September 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    “Content will be locked down more.”

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it already has – look at the migration to Twitter, Posterous, FriendFeed, and other light formats. The longer form content is still out there – but with many thought leaders I know, most of the good stuff has been moved behind a paywall.

  4. 4 marc meyer September 27, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    @Trey I do agree that the pendulum has swung but I don’t think it was so much that we threw our clients to the snake oil guys as much as it was we were not there first to tell them what they needed to know. Maybe the 80/20 rules bit us in the ass? In that we ignored the 2o% to go after the 80% we didn’t have?

  5. 5 marc meyer September 27, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    @Albert We do have to get better but we also have to be wary of what we say, how we say it and where we say it…But also the good news is that the snake oilers will never worry about that and that will be their downfall.

  6. 6 Trey Pennington September 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Since Peter commented here, please let me take this opportunity while visiting in Marc’s house to say a huge THANK YOU to Peter for the incredible content he makes freely available! The comprehensive charts he created and shared are invaluable resources for the true professionals seeking to build for-real best practices and case studies to support marketing tactics.

    Somewhere recently (I’ll look it up and post later), someone referred to this time period as the Paleozoic Era of Interrnet development. Whiile this time period has been a wild ride (to me, in smacks of the American Wild, Wild West of the 1800s portrayed in B movies), this is at best a transition period.

    In the meantime, thought leaders will develop out-in-the-open and then gradually move behind PayPal buttons. Hopefully the rash of social media books will subside and we’ll push toward meaning and significant in the commercial world.

    Just a thought.

  7. 7 marc meyer September 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    @Peter, Measured responses with measured output seems like the antitheses of social media to a certain degree, and unfortunately it looks like we’re headed that way if not already there….

  8. 8 Trey Pennington September 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Here’s the link I promised

    Twitter’s Investors Missed the Cluetrain by Tim Beyers of FastCompany.

  9. 9 Trey Pennington September 27, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Marc, good point about not being the first to tell them.

    I’ve worked with several ad agencies who waited until their clients demanded counsel from them regarding social media. Each agency had almost no social media presence (which means no social media experience) to use as a basis for understanding and communicating. One agency in particular had a robust research department that could have established that agency as the leader in emerging tech. Instead, they spent all their time researching and promoting the Net Promoter Index.

    To be fair to agencies, I guess we can’t explore every new thing that comes along. Still, we do need to be in front of our clients, leading. If we want to be that “trusted advisor,” then we’ve got to take some risk to explore the unknown and even the things we don’t believe will work. We have an obligation to help our clients avoid wasting time, energy, and money.

    Now, back to your main point, we probably need to be nice to others online. I love Seth’s post today: just because we CAN throw a brick through a window doesn’t mean we should.


  1. 1 Looking at Valeria Maltoni writings for the Inbound Marketing Summit 2009 « Fredzimny's Blog Trackback on October 9, 2009 at 6:04 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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