The Social Media Debates: Round 1

Posted on February 1, 2008
Filed Under Marketing 2.0 |

Screw the CNN-YouTube debates. I invited the techie girl who loves me to engage in debate regarding social media marketing, a much more important topic than the future of the United States, which doesn’t exist. This debate pits Drama 2.0, a rainmaker who can sell water to a whale, against Alisa Leonard, a “social media junkie” who encourages marketers to participate in some sort of abstract conversation with the “community.”

Alisa kicked off Round 1 of our public lovefest here:

Alisa: Marketers must join the Conversation

Drama: Marketers must Sell

So that is the simplistic version of the two. Are they opposing? Does the “sell” work in social media? Does social media change marketing?

(Note to Alisa: I fixed your typo, honey. Proofreading is just another free service I offer all my friends with benefits).

The simplistic answer is: no. In theory, the “conversation” and the “selling” are not necessarily opposed to one another. If a marketer can “engage” in a “conversation” that clearly has the potential to achieve a tangible objective that is of value (i.e. a sale), then the conversation might be worthwhile.

The real problem with social media marketing is that nobody seems to have figured out how to drive tangible results for marketers using the conversation. They’ll get you into a conversation but have no clue about how to take it anywhere. Major venues for conversations, such as Facebook and YouTube, have . Everything in life boils down to perceived ROI. If marketers are not going to get a measurable return from their conversations that makes the cost worthwhile, what’s the point?

The truth is that, just as in real-life, certain conversations are dead ends. Let’s use a nightclub analogy.

Drama 2.0 heads out for a night on the town looking for a shot at love (okay, more likely lust). Being a natural pick-up artist, Drama 2.0, much like a marketer, has an extensive repertoire of techniques that he can employ to “engage” his target market (attractive females who preferably have sexy accents). The objective: to seal one or four “deals.” He has a limited budget (the night is only young for so long and his rule is to spend no more than $2,000 on bottle service unless a special occasion warrants it).

Drama 2.0 enters the nightclub. He first identifies his target market and then selects the members of it who look most receptive. He approaches an apparently receptive target and “engages.” He is now involved in a “conversation.” In a relatively short period of time, Drama 2.0 knows whether the target is likely to buy. If the target is, he wastes no time in closing the transaction. If the target is having a difficult time making a purchasing decision, Drama 2.0 makes a final offer and moves on to the next target if there’s no bite. Amateurs, of course, will spend hours talking to a target who obviously isn’t going to buy but who is more-than-willing to accept free drinks. And downright losers will continue to try to sell to a target who has explicitly turned down an offer.

In essence, many social media “experts” want marketers to act like amateurs and losers rather than like Drama 2.0. They’d have a marketer engage in a two-hour long conversation that isn’t going anywhere; they consider a handshake and “you’re a really nice guy - it was great meeting you” to be a success. It isn’t. Because while Mr. Marketer was showing Ms. Consumer what a “nice guy” he is, Drama 2.0 was loading three Ms. Consumers into his Bentley GT (the burgundy one with Lowenhart rims). And we weren’t going for a cup of coffee.

Marketing, like picking up women at nightclubs, is a numbers game. No matter how handsome, charming and rich you are, certain targets are just not in the mood to buy (yes, even Drama 2.0 gets turned down approximately 7% of the time). Thus, you need to play the numbers game to close a deal. Being efficient and not wasting your limited resources is crucial to playing that game successfully.

At the end of the day, marketing is about targeting, approaching, engaging, gauging interest, closing the deal if there is interest and cutting your losses as soon as possible if there isn’t. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’m waiting to find one so-called social media marketing expert who can demonstrate an ability to help marketers “seal the deal.” Right now, all I see is a bunch of people telling marketers to participate in this perpetual “conversation” with consumers. At some point the cost of engaging in this perpetual conversation exceeds the possible gain and it would be better for the marketer to move on to another conversation or another venue altogether (maybe social networks just aren’t going to be as important to marketers as some people think, which Google seems to be learning the hard way). In nightclub terms, there comes a point when a marketer needs to say to the consumer, “Enough! Are we going to talk all night or are we going to fuck?”

Let’s make this an audio-visual comparison. Currently, social media marketing experts look like:

Good marketers look more like:

The former is most likely ending the night with blue balls while the latter is most likely ending the night with several happy endings. Who do you want to be?

Disclosure: Contrary to rumors, Alisa and I are not engaged. I know she has dreams of being an early adopter of Drama 2.0 but the truth is that I’ve already gone mainstream with beautiful females around the world. In other words, I’m like Amazon: I’m not the new kid on the block, but I guarantee overnight delivery and my uptime is superb. Some women, however, for whatever reason, enjoy giving guys like Twitter a shot: they’re trendy metrosexuals but when it comes time to perform, they .

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8 Responses to “The Social Media Debates: Round 1”

  1. Mr. Crash on February 1st, 2008 7:32 am

    This post is made of win.
    Epic win.

    In fact, I daresay it’s even made of literate win. Which is a far cry from the colossal pile of shit spewed forth from people such as a particular techcrotch writer, who shall remain nameless.

  2. Mr. Win on February 1st, 2008 2:29 pm


  3. on February 1st, 2008 2:42 pm

    @Drama @Mr. Crash good luck to the both of you

  4. on February 4th, 2008 1:55 pm

    major ownage

  5. Ms. F on February 4th, 2008 5:28 pm

    ahem, i believed you’ve just been served, sucka:

  6. The Social Media Debates: Round 3 : The Drama 2.0 Show on February 4th, 2008 9:07 pm

    […] getting “owned” in Round 1 of The Social Media Debates, Alisa Leonard apparently took some time off from her Twitter […]

  7. Drama 2.0 on February 5th, 2008 12:26 am

    Ms. F: I certainly did get served. I had no idea that your friend Alisa held a job as a waitress at Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician in Scottsdale. I was so surprised when she appeared at our table on Saturday night ready to make our dinner a pleasurable one.

    I was very impressed when I tested her knowledge of food and wine and she recommended a magnum of 1981 Dom Pérignon to go with our foie gras appetizer.

    Great service! Well worth the 30% tip.

  8. on February 6th, 2008 3:54 am

    […] Alisa Leonard, the “social media junkie” who I’ve been debating, initially emailed me, it was with a subject line “i love you.” How quickly […]

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Drama 2.0 spikes the Web 2.0 kool aid by providing critical analyses of Web 2.0, its people, its startups and its impact on the world of media. Other topics are explored when Drama 2.0 has been drinking too much 1975 Dom Perignon. Read more about the Internet's version of Keyser Söze here.