Monday, July 25, 2016

S&M Marketing: Welcome to the Echo Chamber

Baiting the S&M marketers. It worked.
This weekend, I discovered a fast, easy, and basically useless way to gain new Twitter followers.

Despite having more than 900 Twitter followers, my tweets these days often seem to disappear into thin air, with seemingly no one noticing.

But it’s different when I use the hashtags #SocialMediaMarketing or #ContentMarketing.

For those, the audience and “engagements” (follows, retweets, likes) are roughly four times normal. And all that action seems to come from the practitioners of those two over-hyped marketing methods, even when I’ve trashed them and their kind as charlatans.

So I conducted an experiment on Saturday:

Hypothesis: Using both hashtags in a single tweet will generate lots of new followers, regardless of what the tweet actually says.

Experimental Method: I sent the “basically sucks” tweet you see here on Saturday, followed a few minutes and five new followers later by the “robo-followers” retweet.

Results: In the next 48 hours, I picked up 27 new Twitter followers, almost all of them self-described social-media (S&M, for short) marketers or content marketers (CMs). (Or both, God help us.) I rarely get more than one new follower per day. I was added to two Twitter lists, which basically never happens. And both the tweet and retweet are still getting additional likes.

Conclusion: Hypothesis confirmed. A lot of S&M marketing consultants’ idea of marketing is to set their Twitter accounts to robo-like any tweet about S&M marketing and to robo-follow the sender. The same goes for CMs.

Testing the conclusion: Come “join the conversation,” as the S&Ms like to parrot: Try this experiment yourself -- preferably with a tweet about this article -- and see what happens. Of course, the likers won’t actually read your tweets and the followers won't look into who you are before following you.

ISIS could tweet “Hitler is God #SocialMediaMarketing” and I swear these Pavlovian sleazeballs would follow.

What this means is that any idiot can set himself (they’re usually men) up as an S&M marketing expert and immediately gain cred by racking up a host of followers from the S&M echo chamber. And look, Mr. Unsuspecting Client, every time our expert tweets, he gets lots of likes and even more followers. Wow, he must really know S&M marketing. (He ought to, as much as he tweets about it. But what can he actually do for your business?)

So what does robo-following, our Publishing Word of the Day, have to do with publishing? The S&M marketing and CM hype networks have for the most part set themselves up as enemies of advertising-supported publishing. (“Why do you need to pay for advertising? Everyone is on Facebook. So just let us set up a Facebook page for you. It's free -- except for our fees.”)

Some of what publishers offer, such as native advertising, is arguably content marketing. The CM purists, however, will have none of that, insisting that Paid Media doesn’t count, that CM marketing must be free. (“But pay me within 15 days or your blog is toast.”)

Don’t get me wrong: Not all S&M marketing and CM are a useless waste of time and money. Just the vast majority.

Set your social-media accounts to robo-follow Dead Tree Edition’s 31-part Publishing Word of the Day series, which explores such useful new terms as Facehumping and denialsizing.

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