6 Fallacies of Social Media

Late post this morning, but I took advantage of this major snow storm to run some errands. With most folks still cowering in their homes, the stores and the barbershop were pretty much empty. Thanks for being snow chickens, and thank you Subaru Outback.

Meantime, Andy tells me today’s video has finally decided to load onto the ever-tempermental YouTube.

*      *      *

In preparation for our interview, I asked Brian Connolly what topics he might like to address. His “6 Fallacies of Social Media” is one of the outcomes. We’d planned to run 6 individual clips, but then decided it worked better as a package. It’s the longest segment of the series. Run time (6:43)

Thursday – Strumpette: A Self Analysis (Final Segment)


9 Responses to 6 Fallacies of Social Media

  1. Bill and Andy — thanks for a very interesting series. I can’t help wondering about the spaces between your clips — the side conversations and extemporaneous discussion that ensues from an interview. Might make a good book…

    Regarding the “fallacies:” Respectfully, perhaps it’s just me (and I am not a social media guru by any means and have no skin in the game) — but the learned Mr. Connolly’s comments seem flavored with sour grapes. Indeed, our profession was quite different even 10 years ago — so are a lot of professions. Attorneys never advertised. Responding to requests for proposal in law was … unseemly and unprofessional. The reality of the marketplace has changed.

    There still are trusted counselors in PR — there still are the same host of tools, media , publicity, press agentry, two-way symmetrical, etc. We are not less of a profession just because there are people who are more tactical than others (one also can say that the burgeoning interest and scholarship around measurement and evaluation is reflective of the desire of clients internal and external for more strategy and more proof of tactical effectiveness).

    There is, in this entire argument (and in Keen’s Cult of the Amateur) a very elitist strain — the comments on crowds (which becomes A Mob) that reveals this impulse. Will the most popular always be the best — surely not, it frequently will be destructive to the best. Mr. Connolly admits, however, that over time, there may be wisdom in crowds. Agreed. Just because a crowd isn’t ultimately smart at the moment shouldn’t discount its role in finding the best. This is why comments (and students in class who are engaged and speak up) can function as intensifiers for truth — BS is exposed fairly quickly. The number of people who were certain that Amanda Chapel was a construct grew larger as more and more people called “her” out. Had “her” handlers been complete idiots with no idea of how the PR industry functioned, that would have happened quicker, in my view.

    According to Edelman’s latest trust barometer, “official” sources continue to be suspect.

    PR’s involvement in social media needs to adopt the view of a participant in the dialogue, with authority won over time and independent of the trappings of authority. That is no fallacy.

  2. Ed Lamoureaux says:

    I don’t understand how someone with such archaic and cynical points of view on the PR profession can be taken seriously. It’s only cool to be a contrarian when you’re at least partially right. The world has changed but he seems to want to hang on to what he was comfortable with BEFORE the rise of the Internet, social media and the new “digital villages” they have built. While the artifacts of PR past bemoan their fate, the rest of us will embrace social media and the new world of PR to enhance our lives, our professions and our circle of friendz. Time to retire, Brian.

  3. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks to Sean and Ed for a couple of fine counterpoints. I don’t know if or when Brian plans to chime in, but I’m sure he’s keeping an eye on the comments.

  4. Mike Keliher says:

    Sure, not everyone has something profound and fascinating to say. But I’m damn certain there are more people with something interesting to say than just those who have traditionally had a platform for widespread communication.

    Brian makes a great point about the “immediate mob,” saying the group is not very bright at all. We’ve seen far too many instances of this being demonstrated time and time again. He also seems to acknowledge, though, the value of the wisdom of crowds at a longer term. Those of us who aren’t wedded to a character’s contrarian persona tend to put more stock in the potential of the positive than the drawbacks of the negative.

    And simply: The requirements put forth by Reg FD do not mean a company cannot use Twitter or have a blog. I’m pretty sure Brian Solis isn’t missing anything. My bet is that he and others like him are more focused on what can be done than on what can’t.

  5. The Internet enables public relations professionals to be more relevant than ever. Historically considered a stepchild of advertising, public relations is now far more measurable, and results of PR can be tracked back to actual sales movement. The views expressed in the video seem to hold that PR should only work through mediators who decide whether or not YOUR news, information YOUR customers will want to know, is worthy to be published or broadcast. There is a blatant lack of understanding of how modern public relations requires direct communications with customers, skillful shaping of the dialog among influencers, and seeding information to bloggers and online media who by their niche existences, are far more engaging and relevant to customers. The web is a constellation of communities, all an inch wide and a mile deep; embrace them, engage them, and move the ball forward.

  6. Bill Sledzik says:

    Great point, Leland. In fact, long before the Web came along, I counseled clients to communicate directly with key stakeholders, and particularly with key influencers. This isn’t new to the digital age, but Web 2.0 certainly offers tools that enhance those direct contacts.

    Too often the news media created obstacles to communication, interfering with the message my clients wanted to deliver. At the same time, media serve as an important check and balance, highlighting our clients’ bad behaviors when called upon to do so. Responsible companies need not fear their scrutiny.

    Direct, unmediated communication is ideal from a PR perspective, but it requires that a level of trust and credibility be established. Brian’s concern, I think, is that social media shortcut the process and make it just a little easy to fool the public (at least in the short term). He sees an independent media necessary to keep us all honest.

  7. I’m probably not going to make many friends here, but I think Brian is spot-on in 5 of the 6 (I’m still hopeful there’s a PR profession out there, but I get what he’s saying). I’ve hammered on the scalability point as much as I know how to without sounding like a broken record, but I know there are others out there who either continue to insist that it is scalable, or they redefine what is meant by relationship, etc.

    And the mob issue is the one most likely to be the culprit in the reduction in credibility of social media. Flash-mobs on twitter a la the Motrin Mommy Mess will become case studies in why such flare ups can (and many times should) be ignored.

    Bravo on a very interesting series.


  8. […] of crowds, and I felt that long before Brian Connolly said the same thing during his interview here. You see, I very much need the trained news professionals who help me interpret the world. My […]

  9. […] been very interesting. The Roundtable discusses the series, and in particular the segment on the Six Fallacies of social […]

%d bloggers like this: