the REAL reason why brands screw up on social media

[I drew this cartoon back in New York, 1998. Backstory here.]

Mark Earls, one of the greatest marketing minds on the planet, is bored of social media. Or at least, the conversation about social media.

So let’s try to get at least this thing really straight:

Social networks are not channels for advertisers or for the adverts/memes you, your clients or any of your so-called “influentials” create, social networks are for all of the people who participate in the network.

Being a social creature means you spend your life in social networks; being part of a social network gives each individual a number of benefits – shared protection, shared resources and most importantly shared learning. Our ability to learn from each other (the appropriately-named Social Learning) is one of our all-too-mutual species‘ most characteristic capabilties and the engine by which stuff gets pulled through populations (from technologies to health habits).

In other words, social media (and the brands that want to be part of it) are at their most powerful when they offer two things:

Shared learning.

Shared teaching.

Great art teaches. Great artists teach. What do you teach? What does your business teach? What is actually learned, imparted? Not just the practical stuff, but the deep, messy stuff about ourselves?

Just thought I’d ask…

[UPDATE] Darren left a great comment:

I frequently talk to people and companies who are looking to take their first stab at social media presence specifically for the purpose of advertising their product or service. No! No! No! Its about engaging your audience in meaningful conversation. Inevitably, they push forward, create a Facebook page and Twitter account, post for a few weeks. They have almost no fans or followers and wonder why their 27 posts with 10% coupon codes brought no increase in revenue!

Because their 27 posts and 10% coupon code played no part in shared learning or shared teaching, that’s why.