Alex Steer

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Social media: facts are not advice

359 words | ~2 min

Below is the latest version of 'What the F**k is Social Media Now?' presentation by Marta Kagan at Espresso - Brand Infiltration.

I'm a planner with a particular interest in social media and in trends and futures, so I get a lot of exposure to presentations like this. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of this one.

The good stuff first: it's beautifully presented. And it has comedy non-swearing, which is always a plus. In terms of designing decks that people want to spend time with, it's a classic.

But that just makes it a very well made blunt pencil. Like many 'ooh wow social media' decks, it starts with a terrifying barrage of big numbers, just in case anyone hadn't noticed that lots of people are using social media channels. But I'm not convinced there's much more to it than that. As an argument it's organised paratactically. Lots of facts are stacked up, and the reader is left to conclude that the sheer scale of social media changes everything. Which it may do, but if I'm a confused marketing director I'm none the wiser. There is an obligatory 'so what should you be doing?' section, but the answers are one-liners, often one-worders, like 'listen' and 'engage'.

The result is a presentation that comes across as a bit smug. If you are as super-savvy as its authors, you can feel good about yourself. If not, you feel inadequate. It ends with the PowerPoint equivalent of a business card, so maybe the objective is to pitch by force of accreted facts, but I wonder if that's really the best way to get your audience on-side. The overall effect is to shout 'I know so much about social media it hurts', without ever saying 'Here's how we use all this homework to solve your problems.'

It is worth a read, though, if you're a planner. The design work is excellent, and it's a useful summary of up-to-date facts.

# Alex Steer (23/07/2010)