Social Media – Over Hyped?

You know what, I really like social media. I use some of the mainstream social media sites and I get a ton of value from them.

On Twitter, I’ve met a lot of really cool people, learned so much about many subjects and discovered 12for12k. I use Facebook mainly to keep in touch with my family and I also use some of the other sites such as Linkedin and FriendFeed.

For a while I’ve been reading how social media marketing makes all other marketing techniques obsolete and how the mainstream media might as well pack up and go home because social media is faster and more relevant.

I’m coming to the conclusion that most of this is just complete crap. In the marketing world, social media certainly has a big role to play in engaging customers and prospects in conversations. But let’s not kid ourselves here, any marketing person who is more away than Michael Jackson understands that social media tools are just one part of a balanced marketing plan – often not the most important part.

Ah, I hear you say – what about the news? It took the mainstream media 30 minutes to get to the Steve McNair story. Know what? I don’t care. The only people who I can imagine have any real interest in this (and others like the Jacko story) are family and friends – the people directly affected. And while we are on the subject of how great social media is for news, I was reading on Twitter just the other day how the Queen had died. As much as Prince Charles would love to take over the job, I think he has to wait a while yet.

Hey, I can live with all this stuff – whereever you go there is always some BS.

What really has me going is reading all over the Internet that Twitter should be awarded the Nobel Peace Price – mainly because of Iran.

Really, what has Twitter done to help Iran? To be honest not a lot. I know some people made their avatars green to show support for the opposition supporters in Iran who had adopted green as their colour. I must say, I’m at a loss to understand how this would affect anything. Even though a lot of people (in the comfort of their western home or office of course) had green avatars, all I’ve seen is dead people and the same government as before. I’m pretty sure that 90% of the green avatar people know little or nothing of the political and cultural life in Iran, I bet quite a few wouldn’t be able to locate the country on a map!

So Nobel Prize material? I don’t think so. But heck, Al Gore got one so maybe it is possible :-)

While all this is going on, I’ll continue to look at social media as a great way to network with interesting people and as a learning tool.

What do you think? Should Twitter be a Nobel laureate? Is the social media hype getting too much for you as well?


  1. says

    Pretty much agree with most of your thoughts. We get news fast on twitter, but it's unsubstantiated, and as you say rumor much of the time. I agree with you about Iran mostly, although I do think social media did play a large role in getting information out of and into the mainstream media, whether the green avatars helped or not. I do think social media is over-hyped, although I think you've gone a little too far the other way in your analysis. It's slowly meshing with the old public relations, marketing, and journalism. And it is changing all three of them drastically. As far as twitter getting the Nobel, I've been talking with people on twitter about it, we all take it as pretty much a joke, or an angle to get news space by invoking the media darling of 'twitter' right now. Great thought-provoking post!

    • David says

      Hi Roger, thanks for stopping by and for commenting – much appreciated.

      You are right, I did go somewhat too far the other way in my thought – funny, I often seem to do that =)

      I do believe that social media really can do a huge amount of good (the 12for12k campaign being just one example),can help marketers (although they are still learning how) and can be great fun.

      It will be really interesting to see what is happening in a couple of years time.


  2. says

    I too am fed up with the over-hyping of Social Media. Don't get me wrong, I love social media but I also love all the other communication tools that are out there. I love finding people who pay homage to the “social” part of social media, but that seems like a rarity…most people are just trying to pimp their own self worth… Twitter a Nobel Laureate? I can think of better honorees! Nice post!

    • David says

      Hey Amy,

      I agree, people seem to forget the social part and focus on pushing their agenda or looking to build a gizillion followers just for the hell of it. The amount of spam is becoming an issue too.

      But heck, I'll continue to use SM to chat with people I like, learn things when I can and hopefully help a good cause or two.

      Thank you for commenting.


  3. tdhurst says

    Twitter shouldn't be awarded anything, the people should. It's a medium, but not the message.

    Most of the haters are just whiny people who aren't that interesting.

    • David says

      Hi TD, thank you for stopping by.

      I agree with you – Twitter just provides the space and it is all us guys who provide the content – good or bad.

      As Roger said above, maybe the Twitter for Nobel Prize thing is just a joke. I can't see anything like that happening and I hope it doesn't. It would devalue the real efforts people are doing to really get to grips with the world's problems, often putting themselves in harms way in the process.


      • tdhurst says

        Giving Twitter a prize would be like reward a nobel prize to the newspaper industry rather than a writer.

  4. smwade says

    I'm glad somebody recognizes that Social Media is simply another utensil in the marketing tool belt. I attended a seminar in Plano the other night where a marketer I greatly respect was speaking on social media. What fascinated me is that there were hordes of non-marketers present to learn how to get rich using new media. I almost wanted to scream. Basically, if you don't know marketing, then your skill at utilizing social media will be mediocre at best, or you'll simply resort to “advertweeting” (e.g. spamming).

    Learn how to appropriately market your product. Become a member of the online community. Don't abuse what's intended to be a fun social network for the sake of trying to make money.

    As far as Twitter receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, I respectfully disagree with that notion in the same way I'd disagree with giving an artistic award to the paintbrush that decorated the Sistine chapel.

    Bottom line: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are all great online communities that enhance my relationships. If people need what I sell, I've made our company easy to find through these networks, but I'll log us off if I ever feel we're abusing the privilege of being there and damaging other people's enjoyment of the sites.

    Learn how to market before you begin Tweeting! Learn to drive before getting behind the wheel!

  5. says


    I tend to agree- SM is a part of an overall marketing strategy and tool kit. One channel alone does not make a successful campaign nevermind a long term strategic impact on a company/brand/product.

    That said SM does work and it's powerful in the right hands ;-) – laureates aside

  6. sjhalestorm says

    I'm also getting a little tired of the hype – there is a ton of value in social media, but the potential is limited when the most common subject of social media is social media.

    Should Twitter be awarded a Nobel Prize…No, probably not. But, Twitter did (is) play(ing) a larger part than green avatars. Iranian citizens do not have access to social media sites due to government interference. is (reportedly) blocked, but people outside of Iran have been setting up proxies and sending them to Iranian bloggers for them to get information out to the world.

    If Twitter deserves accolades, it is for their open-source coding. If social media is everything it is hyped to be, it has needed the publicity to get going. Social media can reach full potential when it is a fluid part of society and we no longer think about it consciously.

    Good post, thanks.

  7. deborahbraidic says

    Fabulous post. I opted not to turn my avatar green over what is happening in Iran because, at the end of the day, its not helping anyone except me – its helping me feel as if I am “participating” in what is going on, but I'm not.

    And, I agree that Twitter can't be awarded any prizes because it is just a tool – it's like giving a prize to a hammer instead of the person who built the house.

  8. says

    I sat down with a potential client and they asked me how I was going to market them using social media. I passed it back to them and asked them what their marketing plan was. They said, “Social media.” So I asked them if that's the only marketing they want to use. They said yes. I asked why. The reply: “Because A-list blogger X said so.” So I asked them if their customers are using social media; did they do market research before calling me to see where their customers are. They said no; but they trusted Blogger X.

    There's a huge danger of being sucked in by all the hype around social media, social media marketing, social marketing; call it what you will. It's not a marketing killer. It's not a PR killer. It's not a mainstream media killer. It's an enhancer. It's not a world changer; it's a view changer. Use it, but don't discount traditional, proven techniques – combine them instead.

    Oh, and the potential client? They were convinced that A-list Blogger X was right, so I politely declined.

    • David says

      And there is the big problem. While social media can be used as a really good tool to enhance many marketing programs, it's a serious mistake mistake to believe that is all you need to do.

      How long will it be before companies start getting annoyed that the promised ROI just never seems to appear?

      This is an exciting time to be involved with marketing – there are just so many options today.

  9. David says

    @smwade @Craig Stark Indeed, social media can be a really good marketing tool, but it is clearly far from being the only one.

    Interesting just how many people are getting on the bandwagon with SM seminars, courses etc. If I'd been awake, I should have joined in the fun.

    @sjhalestorm @deborahbraidic I guess there is just no of knowing how effective the Iran campaign on Twitter has been. Certainly a lot of hype, but I haven't seen any changes in Iran. It's easy for us to sit here and change our avatar and write encouraging comments. The US Government seemed to want to make sure Twitter didn't shut down for planned maintenance at that time. Great opportunity for conspiracy stories!

  10. says

    I look at social media like a streaming universal tricorder. If your an old trekkie you'll appreciate the reference, if all you know is the current trek, the universal tricorder was like a wiki device it could answer anything after scanning a moment. It was connected to a much larger computer and you had answers if you needed them in seconds. Social media is not over hyped and its not even begun to affect change they way it eventually will.

    • David says

      I can see where you are coming from here Skip. Social Media is evolving and certainly is going to develop and be more powerful than today.

      My gripe with the current situation is that people are being misled into thinking that social media is all you need to know to be successful in marketing (see Danny Brown's note above) and that it is powerful enough to change elections and win big awards.

      I have no idea how big social media will be in the future and I don't know how it is influencing the situation in places like Iran. When change does come to that country I tend to feel that it will be the people there becoming an active opposition that makes the change not me changing my Twitter avatar.

      I do believe that we are finally getting the opportunity to see the “Information Super Highway” that we used to keep hearing about, actually start to exist. That is pretty cool!

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