The Curse Of The Generic

corporate does not get digital media
Telstra, Officeworks are not your best source of social media insights

What does Telstra Know About Social Media?

The digital world has shaken up the mainstream areas of our society. I think this is very obvious, terms such as ‘Disruption’ and ‘Alternative’ have become almost cliche in today’s business world.

I was looking around recently and I noticed that companies such as ‘Officeworks’ and good old Telstra seem to have taken up the role of digital media educators in recent times. I think any education is good education, but I also think that many people make the mistake of thinking that because a business is involved with ‘IT’ or selling office merchandise, they also know about social media, and using digital media. Sorry guys, I think you should stay in your own lane.

The last thing we need in Australia are more generic sources of web education, we have fallen behind the game enough without these vanilla podcasts, and corporate cookie-cutter online courses advising business owners they should post ‘interesting content’.

There is very much a struggle going down, the old authority of corporate entities has been displaced, the established order which had its time in the sun during the broadcast era is pretty well over.

What concerns me is that people who are trying to build businesses, and especially those people for whom ‘digital’ is a new territory are receiving information and advice which too often leads to failure; generic approaches to social media are ineffective.

I have no argument with basic skills training, being able to navigate and use the dashboard tools on Facebook, Instagram, how to create a Twitter account, how to upload a video to YouTube e.t.c But these numpties are providing entire courses and assuming an authority they simply can’t justify.

There is just no substitute for knowing your market, and understanding the people who seek what you provide, and this should inform you as to how to best connect with your audience.

Social media has become so familiar to us all, that we can tend to trivialize it and misunderstand the true scale of it. We are dealing with a media type that involves billions of people, this is humanity within reach. If you can refine your communication skills and learn how to execute your story on social media, you can gain a significant level of traction.

There are numerous types of people using Facebook, from the politically interested, social activists, to ecologists, musicians, writers, teachers, physicists, sports people, just about all aspects of modern society is represented. In very blunt terms these generic courses do not do you any favors.

This generic body of social media education pushes a 20th Century approach, where the newsfeed is seen as an electronic bill-board. These are the posts and campaigns that waste your budget. Unless you can make a relevant, high quality connection with your audience, you are by-passed.

You might think I am being unfair here, you might even think I am behaving like a ‘Troll’ because I dare to criticize these successful businesses. I am involved with digital media, and I seek to help others understand and use the various media types to their own ends.

It makes my job much harder to debrief people who have formed bad attitudes and the wrong approaches, and we have masses of disgruntled business owners claiming that ‘Facebook is useless’ because they can’t sell their widgets on it.

The curse of the generic is with using social media like an electronic bill-board, turning good people into glorified spammers.

Because the social media sites are ‘Free’ and we get such a broad range of participation there is a belief that ‘anything goes’ among the business community. Communication requires skill, and marketing should never be undervalued.

The figure of 66% is commonly used to describe the success rate of small business over a 2 year period. Over 5 years it is worse.

One of the largest causes of business/project failure is ‘Marketing’, either the wrong type or a complete absence.

One of the biggest causes of marketing failure is the misunderstanding of digital media among people.

I blame the generic educators for a lot of this failure. People tend to trust big names, and if a well-known brand is offering social media training, and their podcasts are promoting these generic approaches, then a percentage of people will be misinformed.

Of course, I am speaking to people who are not familiar with the online world, the kind of people who are likely to consume this corporate version of social media and online marketing.

My hope is that people will be open minded enough to avoid the trap of the generic training, to seek a more practical and authentic approach to their needs.

The problem in Australia is that we have a major gap between the digitally literate, and the ‘ordinary person’ this gap represents a very serious threat to the economy as a whole, because the whole world is online, business is being done on it, if you follow these generic corporate directions, it is your business, literally.