The name Neil St. Claire is new to me. He’s certainly a smart guy, well educated and employed in what sounds like a good position at a prestigious company. Kudos to him for doing well for himself. My Google News Alert delivered me a hot steaming pile of excrement titled, How Social Media is Choking Your Business to Death. Perhaps the mere fact that I’m even mentioning this article is giving it too much credit, but at the risk of giving more visibility to this journalistic doodoo, here goes.
St. Claire’s agenda is clear; controversy. Look at his credentials again, he’s a bright dude and obviously aware that taking an opposing opinion to the knowledge of the masses. Here’s some perspective for you, imagine if Sanjay Gupta suddenly said, “Vaccines are worthless and very harmful”? Imagine if Neil deGrasse Tyson exclaimed, “Despite everything that you know to be true, the Earth is flat.”? You’d chalk their statements up to a bad bag of shrooms, or perhaps early dementia, but you probably wouldn’t question everything that you know to be true, right?
So, let’s get to the bottom of St. Claire’s possible motives:
A) Desperate plea for attention
Not that I’m old, or that St. Claire is young, but when he was only dreaming of the day when he could drive a car, I was already working in the world of digital marketing at a highly successful SEO firm. What he probably doesn’t understand is how the world of digital marketing was maligned by Madison Avenue because it was a threat to the cloud of mystery that surrounded traditional media advertising. Digital marketing was measurable and infinitely adjustable, even a decade ago. Conversion attribution at the most granular level is a benefit of digital marketing that most traditional media could only dream of achieving. Of course Madison Avenue has come around and can now duke it out with even the best pure-play digital firms, but it wasn’t always that way.
I’m still not sure if there is an ulterior motive in St. Claire’s piece of junk aside from the obvious ploy for visibility.
Just a few paragraphs back I made mention vaccines and a flat Earth. Now add the topic of global warming and you have probably had a conversation with a friend who truly believes something contrary to science and common sense. Often times their opinion is formed from a complete lack of understanding. Look at St. Claire’s paltry Twitter stats and you’d have to wonder how he feels qualified to make statements such as, “A bit histrionic, perhaps, but it’s true–social media is not helping you build business, and it’s wasting your time and money. At worst, it’s creating a choke point for your staff where they waste needless hours “socializing” in the hopes of results that don’t exist.”
Here’s the deal. Most people simply don’t understand social. Most businesses take an ad hoc approach to social, rather than formulating a strategy based on goals. Most businesses cast a wide net and mismanage their wrong mix of profiles and content. More than all of this, businesses that fail at social often fail because they simply treat social as a broadcast tool. They use social as bullhorn instead of a microphone. They think of advertising as a way to pitch and convince, instead of a way to engage and talk. Think about it this way. Let’s say you have a flashlight that isn’t working. You push the on button and zero light emanates from the business end. I can’t argue with you that your flashlight doesn’t work. In fact I’d agree with you, your flashlight doesn’t work. However, if you want your flashlight to work, you need to figure out why it isn’t working. Does it have a light bulb? Does the switch work? Does it have batteries? Is the problem a combination of some or all of these issues?
You see what I’m getting at?
There’s no argument that social media has huge business value. An argument that social is harmful to businesses is totally ridiculous. So, I don’t think St. Claire is a bad person. I certainly don’t think he’s dumb. I think he’s smart enough to know that we wouldn’t have mentioned his name if he didn’t write his steamy pile of article dung. I’d actually like to grab a beer with him to get to the core of his thoughts.
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