My response to Mark Ritson

Read Mark Ritson’s scathing column on what he dubs “the seven dumbest sins of social media” here

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Columnist Mark Ritson is spending this week and next explaining in his own inimitable fashion why your investment in social media is a total waste of your marketing budget.

Regular readers may be familiar with his thoughts on the matter but to his credit he’s found a fresh and insightful way of illustrating his view. Next week, he promises a column that only he could have named The Five Most Piss-Poor Social Media Campaigns.

His piece this week makes some important points but I disagree with his hostility and suspicion towards the value of social media to a marketer.

Facebook and Twitter are nothing less than global warehouses of consumer sentiment and data. Google+ will inevitably affect Google’s search algorithm when it gains real scale.

But all three of these social networks are still in their infancy. We’re still finding new ways for them to add relevance to our lives as users. The fact that brands haven’t yet figured out how best to exploit social media channels is no reason to rule them out as valuable to marketers just yet.

I used this column three weeks ago to warn Facebook that it must remain useful in order to maintain its powerful scale and pointed to its shrewd Big Brother deal with Endemol and Channel 5 as a shining example of the site moving in the right direction.

This week Twitter has demonstrated that it too recognises the need to grow up and get useful to the brands that could one day offer a way of monetising the business if they can find ways of advertising without intruding. Hiring marketers to explore opportunities for brands through social marketing is Twitter committing to being more than just a fad.

Ritson has little evidence of scalable success to offer because it is yet to come. It was not Twitter’s job to be commercially valuable until now. It was Twitter’s job to become useful to us, its users. It was Twitter’s job to grow and grow it has, not only in number but in immense power. Don’t let any commentators tell you that News Corp getting found out had nothing to do with social media. The closure of the News of the World wouldn’t have happened five years ago.

Rupert Murdoch has broken unions and owned governments the world over for decades. Nothing moved him until now, with the volume of disgusted voices over social media finally bending his will.

Ritson reckons marketers placing shiny toys above ROI are open to accusations of malpractice. I reckon any marketer not bothering to at least investigate the use and evolution of social media could be accused of something similar.

Mark Choueke, editor

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