Unfortunately, Social Media Proves the Genius of Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising was based on screaming at groups of people (that hopefully contained customers) about their brand, their products and their services. But then, the social media revolution came about and now most companies are using social media to… scream at random people about themselves and their products and their services. D’oh! You can go on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and see it all the time. The companies that do this don’t want to be social; they just want a free channel to yell at people. They have no interest in listening or being part of the conversation.

If you’ve read other articles on my blog (like this one or this one) you already understand my fondness for Jay Baer’s book Youtility. This post is no different. There are multiple parts of the book that cover this very topic, but a quote in chapter 1 from Avinash Kaushik caught my attention. He states, “We’ve never managed to get beyond a medium that allowed us to just shout. So TV, magazines, radio, newspapers, are all wonderful channels, but are essentially dumb in the sense that you put something out there and pray that the people who are in the market at that moment, will consume content on the channels and see your advertising and be so “wowed”by it, they will run to the store and buy your product.”

Anyone who’s read Start With Why by Simon Sinek knows that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. So why do brands still continuously focus on themselves? I have a few hypothesis’ about why this may be:

  • They don’t know they’re doing it. They’re just writing about stuff they’re familiar about which is themselves
  • They don’t know what their customers want
  • They don’t know who their customers are
  • The management team doesn’t understand and wants the marketing team talking about themselves
  • They are part of a sales focused organization, not a customer focused organization

What are your thoughts? Which brands do you think understand how to use social media? Here are my favorites

  • Dos Equis – They don’t use Facebook to sell and they produce content that I find entertaining
  • Ariens– They understand storytelling and make their loyal customers the star of their show
  • Simon Sinek – Aside from having written great books, his social pages are filled with inspirational thoughts, not product pushing.
  • Lynda – Yes they announce when they’ve added new courses, but that’s not a product push. They also tell the stories of the authors and how subscribers have become successful by mastering their courses.



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