It’s official – marketing will destroy everything good about social media.

social fish
social fish

Jay Baer posted a provocative post titled Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy.  In it, he says:

“As long as brands are willing to pay for reliable reach (and Facebook’s recent announcement of a 61% increase in ads year-over-year suggests that we are very much willing), organic reliable reach will continue to diminish.”

Therefore, he advocates quitting the rifle approach, and adopting the shotgun approach instead.

“The shotgun approach is a new way of conducting your social media affairs, based on the mathematical realities of an era where reliable reach has gone unicorn.

The shotgun approach says:

  • You need to be sending more messages in more places.
  • The total potential size of a social network is far less relevant than the number of people you ACTUALLY reach there.
  • Because such a small percentage of your total audience will see any one message you send in any particular venue, you can adopt an editorial calendar that works across-the-board, with changes in execution to fit each network’s norms.

In the shotgun approach, you don’t worry as much about building a big audience in any particular network, but instead building a touchpoint corral around each of your customers and fans. The holy grail isn’t one million Facebook fans, but being connected to each of your fans in as many places as possible. The more places you are connected to your customers and fans, the more places you have permission to contact them, the greater the chances that you will actually be able to contact them somehow, somewhere.

In other words – not just quantity over quality, but SPRAY & PRAY.

So first of all, I personally feel like this kind of military vocabulary that marketers use all the time (target, rifle, shotgun) is just as in-human as the mechanical business words we deride in Humanize. It’s heinous.

But beyond that, this is exactly why people will give up on everything that was great about social media – the human connections that we have made, the deep–and the silly–discussions that we have had, the direct lines we made to people we didn’t dream of having access to before, the seemingly unimportant layers of social “minutiae” that enabled us to skip the small talk and go straight to the good stuff when we hang out IRL with people we haven’t seen in a while.  Do you miss social media?  What do you think will happen when you can’t get to that human stuff?  How many people do you know who can no longer make the effort of spending time on the social spaces they used to hang out in, because it’s all overrun with content marketing crap from corporate accounts?  I bet you know a few. Maybe you feel that way yourself.

Here are the slides that explain this in more detail (if you don’t already feel like puking at the thought of this) and want to know more.


But, sick as all of this is, Jay is not entirely wrong about it – for brands to cut through the muck “sprayed and prayed” by all the other brands, this is what probably needs to happen.  And that’s why I’m forecasting the slow painful death of the good, human social media as we knew it.   Because I bet lots of organizations will follow this path in order to shout louder than the rest.

I could tell you not to do it.  I could tell you that social media continues to be at its core about building relationships between people.  I could remind you that while you were busy with all your broadcasting to your channels, you forgot about the listening part.  I could say that social media is about building community and all community happens in small groups.  But I think it’s an inexorable tidal wave that I am powerless to stop, so instead, I’ll just ask you to think about it before  you choose the blue pill and the Matrix folds back in on itself and eats you up.

Neo had to literally unplug himself from the Matrix in order to save humanity.  Think about that for a second.

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth—nothing more.

– The Matrix, 1999

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