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T Time: Tweet nothings

Mr Murray offering a helping hand at the launch of Macau’s Playboy Club

From working as an editor in the UK, to taking charge of a Hong Kong magazine, industry journalist Tony Murray has formed innumerable opinions. Interested to hear a few we invited him to share his thoughts via a regular guest blog. Use the comments form below if you have any feedback or written bile to spit as a result, and please remember; if you don’t like it, he doesn’t work for us…
There’s not an office in the online world whose productivity couldn’t be improved by blocking Facebook, far and away the most pernicious of social media sites. Even at the site’s own Californian headquarters, I suspect staff spend more time searching out bikini shots of colleagues’ wives than devising new and ever-more intrusive logarithms.
Actually, that’s probably not true. For West Coast computer geeks expressing even a passing partiality for lady parts probably has all the social cache of “nigger-baiting???. Heavy sigh, quite frankly, online chums.
In truth, social media has ushered in an era of permanent displacement, a time when we can make it clearly apparent to those we are with, that we’d rather we weren’t. Gone are the days of wistful sighs, staring into the middle distance and fingering lockets. Now you can simply Skype your absentee loved one while dining with someone else’s.
“Social media???, alongside “coalition government??? and “Celebrity Big Brother???, will go down in history as one of the most misnomerous terms of our times. And that’s what makes me think its days may be numbered, and not necessarily double-digitally.
Its prominence in the marketing mix is now widely disproportionate to its effectiveness. It is prospering in these chastened times due to both its low initiation cost and its supposed measurabililty. To all intents and purposes, it is the bastard child of direct marketing, that all but forgotten discipline that threatened to topple above-the-line activity back in the early 1990s.
Back then, Heinz renounced TV, outdoor, radio and press in favour of DM. In less than two months, the fact that Heinz Needz Screenz became more than apparent, as brand awareness tumbled and baked beans were back on the box.
Social media does the business when it comes to a quick nip and tuck for berated brands. It may even be the new NME when it comes to being the herald of undiscovered youthenalia. But as a dedicated manipulator of mass markets, its time may never come.
There is an in-built twatification factor to twitter, for instance, that makes any endorsement somewhat suspect. Those that come to crave a cosmetic advocated by a two-fingered TOWIE typist typically boast all the social eclat of a Hello Kitty Tampon Dispenser.
Similarly, those Foursquare stalwarts foolhardy enough to covet a MacDonalds mayordom are hardly the AB1s marketing folk nocturnally emit at the very thought of. Neither are they likely to excite admiration and emulation among those subject to their news feeds.
The ads carried by Google and Facebook, although frequently bracketed with social media, are actually more of an extreme narrowcast, but seldom as effectively targetted as they claim. Despite supposedly being tailored to an individual’s Facebook page or Google account, their broadbrush approach leaves much to be desired. Effectiveness, for instance.
Rightly sensing that I’m in Hong Kong, my Facebook page, for example, currently carries ads for Galaxy mobile phones, a loan from the HSBC, a chance to study for a Masters degree in Liverpool, discount johnnies and several pairs of shiny shoes last seen as the footwear of seventies porn protagonists.
All of which are neatly rendered in Cantonese.
I believe the vernacular favoured by the digerati is “Fail???. At least it was some years back.
Ah well, social media back in your wee box it is for you. Let the established marketing channels shuffle around a little and find you a niche, for niche you are.
The last nail in your coffin? Well, as my very good friend and current gun-for-hire, Mr Paul Fabretti, assures me, most clients are now bringing all their social media activity in-house.
There’s nothing like the prospect of a vanishing fee to restore the faith of the ever-fickle marketing communications community into more chargable channels.
You take care now, blog buddies everywhere.
Tony Murray is managing editor of Gafencu Men in Hong Kong. He was previously editor of Adline and group managing editor of the Carnyx Group, publishers of The Drum and former publishers of The Marketeer. Use the following link to befriend him on Facebook.

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