Before social, how did we send a referral? We called someone. If we got voicemail, we called back. Or we put something in the mail.
Pre-social it was a big effort to send a referral. We had to pick up the phone and call someone. Probably even pay for the call because back then calling someone who lived more than 15 or 20 miles away was a long distance call. If we sent the referral in the mail we had to put it in an envelope or a package, go to the post office and mail it, and pay for postage. Pre-social we made a major commitment to send a referral. We put time into a referral, we paid to send a referral.
Pre-social we only sent a referral after we had used the product, good or service. Not just once or twice, over time. We didn’t sent a referral until we had used the lawn mower a few months, had gone out to eat at a restaurant a few times, or had worn the jeans a while.
Pre-social we were sure something was worth referring because we had experienced whatever we were referring over time. We weren’t going to tell someone else about something, take the effort to, pay to, unless we firmly believed in what we were telling others about.
How does a referral get done today?
We click a button – share on Facebook, share on Twitter. That’s it. It takes no effort to send a referral. Okay, I’ll give you that a mouse click falls under the definition of effort. There’s no cost, in only takes a second or two. So if there’s no cost, if all takes is a mouse click, how on earth can whatever we’re sharing have value? It doesn’t.
I’ll wager that most times the “share” button is clicked there’s zero experience or commitment to whatever is being shared. How could there be? Today, people see something on a webpage and they share it before they’ve finished reading the page. If they used their Facebook login the podcast they’re listening to is being shared while they’re listening. Today people share or like something before they’ve consumed whatever they’re liking or sharing. Whatever is being shared or liked hasn’t been put to the test, hasn’t been evaluated or used over time.
But everyone else is supposed to jump onboard.
Today, the second we click “buy” we’re redirected to a webpage to share what we bought. If we logged in using Facebook all friends know what was just bought, which is a subliminal endorsement. The seller wants to provide feedback now, not later. When we go out to eat we haven’t even finished desert and we’re being harangued to post a review on Yelp. Whatever we just bought is still being downloaded, we haven’t even opened it yet. But we get an email to post a review or share.
And everyone else is supposed to join in.
Remember when email first being used and all you got were jokes from your friends? Then your crazy Uncle got email and all you got from him were jokes and crazy emails. Remember chain letters? The more things change the more they remain the same. Social and Facebook is nothing more than a breeding ground for the crazy Uncle. It’s a modern day chain letter.
And a few billion people are in on the joke.
Here’s a great example. I’m listening to the Food Revolution podcast. At the end of each podcast Ocean Robbins chimes in and asks the listeners to share what they think – right now. How could anyone have anything valuable or meaningful to say the second the podcast is over? It takes time to soak in what they’ve heard. Critical thinking needs to be applied. The subject matter needs to be evaluated against studies, research, and alternative views. By asking his listeners to comment immediately, Ocean is essentially saying ready, fire, aim. He’s asking his listeners for impulse comments. And get this. He then wants others to read the comments, ostensibly use the comments as support for the podcast.
Another example. Yesterday I called Apple. Now today I get an email to take a survey of my call yesterday. Hell I haven’t had a chance to even think about the call, but Apple wants my opinion — now. Companies worth billions of dollars want my opinions now. Not a few weeks from now, when I’ve had time to think about my experience. Say what?
Social is garbage in and garbage out.
Ask yourself this. When you buy on impulse how does it generally work out? If you’re like me, most times you regret what you bought.
Comments, liking or sharing on social has no value. None. Zero. It’s akin to impulse buying. Yeah sure, there’s times when someone has used a lawnmower a few months then they post on their Facebook. For sure, that post has value. But it’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Because the post about the lawnmower gets buried in a sea of cat videos, empty impulse shares and likes, and pictures that no one cares about. BTW. Why haven’t people on social figured out that no one cares about pictures of other people’s vacations or children?
Let’s go back to Ocean. BTW. I’m not picking on him. I’m just using him as an example of the whole. Rich Roll is another great example of this but I’ve picked on him enough. So someone posts in real-time while one of the Food Revolution podcasts is being broadcast. A few thousand impulse comments are generated. But what if one of the people who posted changes their mind or has a change of thought?
First, the person with the change of mind has to find their original comment. But their comment is buried among a few thousand other comments. So it’s easier said than done, to find their first comment. Assuming they can find it, can they link their revised thought to their original comment? No. Because on Facebook comments are posted in linear form. The probably have to find their first comment, copy it, then paste it to their revised comment. If the podcast has locked the comments thread they’re out of luck.
More. Most on social scan, they don’t read. Why? Because social was designed for advertisers, not for value. Marketers don’t like it when you take time to think before you buy. Nope. Marketers want your money now, not later.
People on social scan the first few comments and move on. The revised thought is buried down so far down the page or is comment # 5000. The chances of their revised thought being seen are slim and none.
Even worse. Rich Roll blocked me from posting on his website. Anyone can delete comments on their Facebook page. So not only are comments, likes and shares all about impulse, the owner of the webpage has the option of only posting stuff that make them look good. The comments, likes and shares are cherry picked.
In the game of social the winner is Facebook.
Garbage in, garbage out.
Pre-social when you got a referral there was skin in the game. People were putting their money where their mouth is. Pre-social a referral was valuable. Today, when you read a comment, get a share or like there’s no skin in the game. 9 times out of 10 the comment, share or like is an impulse. Whatever you’re reading is screened. It has no value.
So social is this brilliant invention that makes our lives better? Really? Seems to me that social is pretty much the world’s biggest tent of impulse buying, a concept that’s been around since the days of the traveling circus. When you make a purchase or a decision based on a comment, like or share, it’s a game of ring toss. You’re playing one of those rigged games at the carnival.
Finding something of value on the Internet is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Conceptually, social is like trying to have a conversation with one person in the last row at the top of a stadium, while everyone else in the stadium is screaming through a megaphone and throwing things.
You might be saying, “Yeah, but everyone is doing it. If what you’re saying is true, how come every business has a share or like on their webpage? So they’re all wrong? Apple is wrong? Facebook is a billions dollar company. They’re wrong?”
The short answer is yes.
And if you believe that because everyone is doing something than it must be right, that’s the herd mentality.
So why do we do it? What’s going on? Why are we so obsessed with being constantly connected to something so useless? Why are businesses spending the money they do on social? Why is there so much software for social? The business of social looks like a bottomless well of dollars. Why do cats like Ocean, Rich, and everyone else preach comment, share or like — right now? How come I’m the only one saying what I am? I must be crazy, right?
More on that coming.