By Hans Ebert

Difficult to believe, but not too long ago, it really mattered for some to show that they had more followers on Twitter than mere mortals. It seemed to validate their position in the pecking order of the world. It made them feel as if they were standing out from the rest. It was like being a Kardashian- but without the smarts to make billions out of being famous for doing nothing except being famous.

Fast forward to today. All those birds who flock together have migrated to Instagram. Zuck was there way before them. Waiting with open arms.

Zuck is no idiot. He seems to have made a study of his age group- their likes, especially their insecurities, and a craving by most for some form of fame- and he’s providing a showcase for all this in the most simple ways: Photography. It’s clicked.

Of course, some of the photography is stunning. It helps introduce all the different types of beauty of this world to the rest of the world. It makes one want to travel. To discover. To share.

Much of it is inspiring stuff as opposed to the now stodgy old world of Facebook. The mantra being preached these days is that “no one looks at Facebook anymore”.

Really? Surely, if content is good and different and creative enough, people will seek it out wherever it is?

It’s like music. It’s why Billie Eilish is happening. It’s substance over style. This is what has lasting appeal. Things that grow organically.

As for the pulling power of Instagram, it SEEMS younger. #Instacool and loaded with every #Instahashtag imaginable. Well, that’s what Zuck and Co are promoting. And to endorse his own product, there he is for you to follow with millions doing exactly this. Why? No idea. A nerdy looking guy with bad hair sharing his family snaps? He’s not exactly Steve Jobs.

Whereas Facebook is looking tired and a photo album of Kodak Moments, Instagram is promoted to be vital in every marketing programme.

It is, after all, a business- another business that gets free consumer-generated content for its delivery platform. But as more and more questions are being raised about the pros and cons of social media and how it’s used and for what and by whom, and those who know how to use these platforms to manipulate and control fragile minds- something for governments to put in laws that have never existed in the online world because those who are paid to lead never saw this Trojan horse being led in and multiplying like gremlins of hate- the basics of selling cons has different market segments. Targets. It’s all very calculated.

Of course there are the products and businesses who believe they must have a presence on Instagram. Because their competition is on it. It’s monkey see, monkey do marketing.

A few do this very well by daring to be different and producing a creative product that can really be marketed to maximum effect.

These are the basics of traditional advertising. Everything some of us learned from David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, my mentor Keith Reinhard. And Don Draper.

Most who are in marketing today are easily led, but no matter how they present themselves, those who have been around the block can see the cracks and false bravado.

It’s like the research companies from back in the day and buzz phrases like “quantative versus qualitative research” and plenty of pie charts with dollops of pseudo intellectual mumbo jumbo thrown in by presenters who should never ever present. They can’t.

Presenting is a talent. It’s not an exact science. It’s about reading your audience. Thinking on your feet. It’s not about sticking to the script when it’s bombing.

When, however, this mumbo jumbo is bought by decision makers, the end result is wallpaper communications. And as more and more content for social media is churned out by gremlins and the sons and daughters of The Peter Principle, what’s out there is more and more of the same- or daft thinking to create more “awareness”.

How successful is this “awareness”?

Let’s just say that many in advertising and marketing today don’t understand the importance of the medium for the message. They have never read Marshall McLuhan.

So what one sees is only what appears on their “streams”. If there’s any interest in what stops you in your tracks for all the wrong reasons, it’s to understand the underbelly of what is being peddled. Who’s buying the carrots and whether these carrots are worth it. It’s the Pied Piper of Hamlyn stuff.

Sure, “promoting” your product and buying “followers” is inexpensive. But one reaps what they sow. Those days of accepting everything at face value are gone.

Hired by many are online fact checkers. Those who see numbers that don’t add up and see why- “private accounts”- accounts with 2-3 posts etc and all part of the bundle purchased by credit card to show “popularity” will never make any financial profit.

Forget that very many don’t buy any of this rubbish. It actually does more harm than good to those hoodwinked into believing that to be noticed in the online world, there’s a need to be seen to be already popular.

Sorry, it’s not working. It’s like kryptonite is to Superman. It weakens a brand. It shows up its insecurities. And weaknesses.

Being famous for being famous had its day. The Kardashians used it brilliantly and are continuing to tweak being relevant for, well, nothing really, by creating new drama into their lives. And so baby daddies come and go, Yeezy enters the picture to prop up his own dying brand, the Jenner girls create their own back stories- more baby daddies, cheating boyfriends, appearing at red carpet events wearing no underpants, no longer having to be seen with Harry Styles, playing both sides of the fence etc- all in order to SELL their products. And these continue to sell.

All that social media awareness is ONLY about selling their brands. About making money. This is the end game.

Sure appear anywhere- Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, SnapChat, Facebook etc. If this is for fun or thinking everyone is clinging onto everything you have to say, which is not much, fine.

Others are paid to appear on places like Twitter and keep their names and blue tick verification codes in the limelight.

Most of the REALLY big accounts are managed by very savvy marketers sending out very strategically creative messages to businesses that their clients are Key Opinion Leaders. That they’re available for endorsement deals and other business opportunities. Anywhere in the world.

These experienced marketing professionals are honest enough to know that the lifespan of celebritydom is limited. Very limited.

It’s why at 46, Heidi Klum gifs where she’s jumping and twirling around like a ten year old are all over Instagram. Embarrassing? Well, you know…

It’s keeping her in the public eye before she joins Mel B, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheryl Cole etc in that heap labelled “Has Beens”. Add Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis to that list. Still, has-beens are better than never-beens.

Social media might give many hope. But is it all about online manipulation, where the tail is wagging the consumer and those lost in the delusional madness of false fame and followers? Followers are a fickle lot in life.

#socialmedia #Instagram #marketing #creativity #advertising #Zuck #MarkZuckerberg #Facebook #fakefollowers #Twitter #Kardashians #Kylie #Kendall #HeidiKlum #HansEbert #BillieEilish

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