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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