Disrespecting your consumer = anti-advertising anyone?

There’s all sorts of conclusions you can reach about Social Networks, ain’t there? Warning: rant coming up. Funny article in AdNews (always good for a laugh) : Web 2.0 gets nasty (by Nina Lees)Web 2.0 obsessive uptake of social interaction, user generated content control and unbridled interactivity has meant the lunatics are running the asylum.That’s…

There’s all sorts of conclusions you can reach about Social Networks, ain’t there? Warning: rant coming up.

Funny article in AdNews (always good for a laugh) :

Web 2.0 gets nasty (by Nina Lees)
Web 2.0 obsessive uptake of social interaction, user generated content control and unbridled interactivity has meant the lunatics are running the asylum.
That’s according to Melbourne adman Simon Hammond, chairman of Photon-owned communications agency Belong

…the lunatics are running the asylum. That would be us. 21 million Australians – man woman and child – 2.1 million of whom (over 18) have signed up for Facebook. God only knows how many others are on other online communities and not Facebook. The world was much saner when marketing bods were in charge, no?

But Hammond said the new online craze centres around being noticed, not adding societal value.
“What was information highway is now an opinion freeway, with every half-witted nobody seeking fame for contributing nothing at all,” Hammond said.
This has spawned the growth of what Hammond has dubbed the “Jackass Generation”, as Gen Y-ers fight to outdo each other using any stunt, opinion or attack that ensures their existence is noticed.

Isn’t that what you are doing, Simon Hammond? Using AdNews as a stunt, spouting ill conceived opinions as an attack on your consumers? And, oh quel surprise, when the halfwits (that would be me) attack back!

Or, let me translate for you, into Laurel-speak.

People have re-discovered communication as a means to adding to the value to society.
“What was a static marketing medium with boring as bat-shit brochure-style webpages that treated the consumer as eyeballs unworthy of holding an opinion, is now an important medium for discovery, filtering, creating and communicating content around brands. We see this as a fundamental move in the right direction to full engaging with our consumers. ” (OR NOT)

“Once we’ve engaged with “them” in “their” space, we will call them halfwit nobodies and jackasses. Your brand is safe with us. ” (don’t) Belong (online) Group

Those “half witted nobodies” worked out how to use bitTorrent totally devaluing your 30 second TVC overloading traditional television. How’d ya like them apples, Simon Hammond? He then goes on to talk about the very minor, very vocal percentage of an online community that are trolls, creating flame wars and generally trying to make life miserable for the rest of the membership. “cyber savagery” in a “lawless cyber world” are the terms he used – I assume he hasn’t heard of my ” Managing a social network for business” March 8th course that goes through hiring Moderators, managing community behaviour online and so on.

Your consumer is spending a lot of time on Facebook and other online communities – find out how to build a social network around your products and services that will engage your customers and meet their needs. Successful corporate sites are now enabling visitors to talk to each other and contribute content using Web 2.0 tools. Benefits include people creating personal connections and maintaining relationships through your site, increasing the number of visitors and length of stay, brand recall and loyalty, and a decrease in technical and customer support. In this workshop we’ll explain how to build and maintain an online community around your business. We’ll examine the various types of social networks and discuss creating spaces for different types of connecting, then look at developing in-depth rules of engagement such as codes of conduct, FAQ, moderating member forums and chat rooms, and encouraging members to implement word of mouth to grow the network. This is not a technical course but a reasonable familiarity with blogs and forums will be assumed.

Yes, you can manage your consumers’ behaviour. But calling ’em Jackasses and halfwit nobodies is not the Approved Recommended Consumer Engagement Method!

By the way, I have a rule in my networks against members revealing personal information about other members – such as their cell phone number :

Hammond encouraged every member of the audience to switch on their phones and send an SMS message to Herald Sun daily columnist Chloe Adams’ mobile, encouraging her to write about the breakfast, the action and the various received messages about the Australian fashion industry’s needs.

The room responded and so did Chloe Adams with the feature piece in her ‘The Eye’ column under the heading ‘The Medium is the message’, where she explained, “The point, SEE agency Director Simon Hammond told us, was to prove the power of communication in the modern world… armed with a mobile phone, every one of us is more powerful than ever before.”

Jackass indeed. I wouldn’t allow that behaviour *shrugs* Oh well, at least marketeers are starting to feel the power of the crowds.

We lurvvvve Harold Mitchell. I still think he’s the coolest cat in the industry. Couldn’t care less if I meet SH but HM? I’d be on a plane tomorrow:

Media agency magnate Harold Mitchell said people participating in online communities are known in marketing circles as opinion leaders, early adopters, prosumers or mavens.
“They fuel the process of change by firing one another up on the web and then bringing ideas in the world of people who don’t participate.”

Those people who don’t participate are the older generation – not the Jackass generation – who have been brainwashed into going home, turning on the telly, and disengaging brain. Wow, way to go for showing the young’uns how to have a fulfilling and creative life! Gimme that remote! 😛

*blows kisses at Harold* Can anyone score me lunch/coffee with Da Man? I’d pay my own way down to Melbourne just to have a chat with him…

By the way, don’t be too hard on Simon Hammond from Don’t Belong Online. People get misquoted occasionally, though Nina Lees seems OK, most of the time.

Final point on the new online craze (social networks online have been around since Compuserve started in 1969) “not adding societal value” – which blogs, networks, wikis do you think add value? Wikis on health, YouTube for University education, politicians who blog – anyone?

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  1. Dearest Pixie, I think Mr Hammond has had his paradigm shifted well and truly out from under him. Consequently, he fears the change and his fight-or-flight response has chosen fight.

    The adrenaline is obviously pumping as you can just about visualise the vein in his temple pulsing.

    His rant reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of social networking and an old-school adman’s contempt of the audience as nothing more than sheep to drive messages at.

    Oh dear.

  2. Hey trib – well the vein is gonna pump some more when he does a google search on “simon hammond” belong – *wants to watch* I wonder if he is worried about google searches and this blog coming top? Maybe hasn’t caught onto ego-casting yet 🙂

    I think Mr Hammond might be a bit smarter than he appears at first read, and he knows his audience – AdNews does tend to preach oldschool to oldschoolers. Which is why it’s always good for a laugh…

  3. yellowbrackets.com
    What Do You Belong To?

    Oh I can answer that:
    I belong to sites that want to data-mine me, that use my profile for selling targetted ads to my demographic, that ravage my friends list to build their marketing database. I belong to networks run by people who think I’m a half wit jackass, predator, a stalker, a time-waster-online, full of User Generated Crap, defamatory statements and nicker of intellectual property. I belong to communities targetted by people who see me as a pair of voiceless eyeballs who should just suck up the swill err programmed content, blindly accept branded advertising and be glad they are not charging me 50c extra for viewing on a Saturday.

    What Do You Belong To? 😛

  4. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein.

  5. Hi Horizon,
    Short version:
    1. We learn to blog from a variety of mainstream sources. Mostly trashy magazines (high circulation)
    2. We learn which blogs to trust and which ones not to. We all have different values. aka Alan Jones vs Denton.
    3. We all make mistakes – it’s quicker to rectify in the blogosphere than in MSM.
    4. The ‘web’ is not a community, manageable niches are community. Big Brother vs online book clubs. Respect, trust and reputation are integral to community. Find bloggers and sources you trust, double check and quote, and don’t be scared to make a correction. Media was never meant to be static, so the long tail means an ongoing discussion, not simply yesterdays news.

    Have a read of Remote Control, New Media New Ethics to find out just how trustworthy media in Australia is.

    Longer rants.
    10% of the population are on Facebook. 10% of the Australian population read New Idea (3rd highest circulation in Australia). Coincidence? I think not. Citizen journalists learn from the best. i.e. Monkey see. Monkey do. After the fiasco with New Idea releasing secret information on Prince Harry in Afganistan recently, I will ensure that I also find a way to breach trust and press embargos. And write about divorces that never happen, and public mental breakdowns. Again, Monkey see. Monkey do.

    Aha I hear you cry: but we are talking about the New York Times! Aha! I cry back: all blogs are not created equal. I expect AdNews to generate intelligent debate on advertising and social media. I do not expect No Idea to do anything but titillate. And whilst some bloggers have a ‘talkback host’ mentality (anything outrageous for ratings), we know them for what they are. Check TechMeme for an unusual aggregate swarming of ‘respected’ bloggers. All publications are not trashy magazines, all bloggers are not founts of ill conceived opinions. Perhaps the greatest error in assessing Web 2.0 worth is to look at the 1 billion mouths online as a big heaving mass of yelping whining pee-ing puppies. It makes more sense to take a less ‘mass’ view and see how we actually live online – in small communities, with people we read regularly (and have learnt to respect) quietly growing in reputation and trust. Without trust, there is NO community. (Web 2.0 does not equal community.)

    But even the best of us makes mistakes at times. Engadget causing Apple to lose 4.6 billion market cap. Just don’t ignore us.

    guys, you can comment here or on Horizon blog.

  6. Hi there Laurel. We were reviewing the AdNews piece internally (we’re a strat. PR & comms group), and commenting on it – specifically Mr Hammond’s choice of words! But I’m interested in your opinion – do you think that the sudden burst in blogs could necessarily feed on itself – getting messages into the broader media which are just plain wrong? Take the New York Times here


    The speed of blogging and the sheer power of inaccurate info being picked up and run not only online, but everywhere else, can have serious repercussions. In this instance it was Clinton’s campaign which will more than likely be affected.

    You say that 2.0 adds value. But who defines that value? There is no chance for modification, no arbitration. A lot of the time no one is even listening. 2.0 might not be filled with nobodies seeking their moment of fame, but somebodies who with intent (or not)push out information without regard for consequences – and the speed of the movement seems to prevent mainstream media from taking a deep breath and checking their facts.

    Interested in your opinion!

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