By Hans Ebert

Someone working in horse racing described Twitter and receiving tweets to be a “distraction”. Of course, it is. Anything that makes you take your eye off the ball when at work is a distraction. At least for myself, Kate Beckinsale is a distraction.

Where was I…Hell, WhatsApp is a distraction. But we’re too polite to say, “Kindly stop sending asinine messages, or worse yet, yuck yuck ‘jokes’ that aren’t funny.”

Apart from being an unnecessary irritant, these mess up with a phone’s “storage”. One of many stressful moments is when the following message appears on your phone: STORAGE ALMOST FULL. And so it’s about getting rid of all the clutter that’s been allowed to build up on your phone- photographs, videos, emails with attachments, messages, those aforementioned “jokes” and downloading apps you don’t even remember downloading.

How the hell did we live a damn sight more happily without all this “social media”? And be far more productive? And more creative? Imagine Dylan or the Beatles happening because of social media. They wouldn’t have. Their talent would have been buried in all the clutter. And amongst all the purported “sharing”. The continuing dissecting of irrelevance. Sometimes, there’s some new thinking that comes through. It’s usually something that comes out of conventional wisdom. But slightly tweaked.

This unsociable “social media” has created a divisive society where there’s a definite Orwellian vibe happening with way too many being slaves to technology.

Of course, using constraint, being selective and having a mindset that’s still plugged into the rudiments of marketing, many, but not all of these online platforms can be extremely effective in business.

This depends on whether Content Is King or has abdicated to become one of the court jesters.

Where it gets problematic and loses direction is when this reason for being on social media becomes a time-consuming online love fest of “sharing” anything and everything for a few “likes”, and, if on Twitter, retweets. I’m working on escaping. It’s another addiction.

What’s the upside to any of this? Where’s the beef? What’s the return on time and investment? More “followers”? And then what? More “followers” equal more awareness? Awareness of what? You or your business? And if you are the product, what are the financial gains?

If it’s only for self promotion and which often leads to the buying of “followers”- hundreds of thousands of followers, many either not existing or “names” which, when one digs deeper, are either in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and have never posted anything anywhere before. But suddenly, they’re following some unknown with nothing to offer? Makes sense?

Is this now part of the new curriculum vitae? In some organisations, it is part of Key Performance Indicators, which is one of the more daft things heard. It begs those who need to meet this particular KPI to just go out and buy whatever it takes to make this figure.

It’s not unlike money laundering, or, back in the day, selling CDs manufactured for a pittance in China of Malaysia to a middle man in order to make the sales figures and seeing this inferior product crash through the barriers and become available in especially Europe.

It’s how every single music company in this region survived for as long as they did. It was taking from the right hand and giving it to the left just to “make the numbers” without thinking twice that this was robbing head office of its profits. Profits that the local offices needed to continue. And after too many years of this game and poor management, the big bank went bust.

Today, it’s all about the streaming of music. It’s what most music companies needed. They made deals with streaming companies worth millions to sell their back catalogues and music by artists on their global priority list. The rest of the artists, the songwriters signed to publishing deals? They’re somewhere on Spotify or Tencent, but who’s to know? It’s all become Muzak.

Here’s where I have a problem. And gawd knows I have many. The problem is over-extending this “welcome” to social media and trying to make it an exacting science. There’s something of the tail wagging the dog here- this high level of importance spent on coming up with the “right” hashtags.

Instagram today is awash with hashtags- and to look “popular”, the buying of “followers”. Instagram and Facebook wave this carrot in front of users as “promoting” your account- for a price, of course.

So, who’s using who? And is this really creating “brand awareness”? Even if it is, what’s the payoff? Does this online “awareness” lead to sales? To closing the deal? To making a profit?

It’s like Daniel Ek and his “business model” for luring new artists onto Spotify. There’s something creepy about this. Like some psycho dressed as a clown and tempting kids with sweeties. It’s kinda like the plot for an episode of “Criminal Minds”.

From a marketing point of view, it still comes down to the rudiments of advertising and marketing. It’s about the creative product. It’s how Don Draper sold “the carousel” in a memorable episode of “Mad Men”. This had to do with persuasive presentation skills and a brilliant idea.

Ever feel that this creative product has been reduced to a co-starring role? Dwarfed by all this pseudo intellectual ramblings about trying to make something that should come naturally and driven by common sense and the ability to create a product that connects with the end consumer? Where this emotional connection today?

When in advertising, my mentor kept reminding us creative directors all the time when we were starting to be bamboozled by new filming techniques and “MTV” type editing that The Technique Is Not The Idea. How the creative product should reach heart and head.

It’s advice that’s served some of us well. It’s about that discipline not to follow leaders and watch your parking meters and how no one really knows why some things take off and others crash and burn.

It’s about not overthinking irrelevant things to death. It’s about having the experience and confidence to know what is intrinsically right.

That’s what those original “Mad Men” of advertising were creating to sell brands and why the great artists made those blank canvases come alive. It’s always been about making the most of one’s God given talents.

We’ve somehow, somewhere forgotten this. We’ve become too easily led. But being led where?

Whether in the creative field for business or trying to get on with life, try switching off. Exercise your mind in the real world.

#socialMedia #marketing #advertising #Instagram #DonDraper #MadMen #HansEbert

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