Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid?

by Jay Deragon on 11/30/2009

matters__fullThis post may seem harsh but is meant to expand our thinking, mine included. Bear with me.

It seems that popular bloggers and communities are creating a “cult like” following of readers who buy into published perspectives.

People follow popular post and bloggers who have the most re-Tweets and highest traffic. Popularity does not show that the perspectives are right rather it shows they are popular. While some post may provide enlightenment and value to readers many do not truly reflect insights that aid people and businesses  in thinking through the changing dynamics of today’s marketplace.

Social Media Kool-Aid

Social media is getting a bad name because most organizations think of it as “just another marketing channel” rather than taking the time to understand that communications and relationships drive, influence and produce everything: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Drinking social media kool-aid is largely an influence of what perspectives are the most popular.   These perspectives reflect the knowledge, or lack thereof, that gets “published” and consumed in the marketplace of conversations. If all we publish focuses on “marketing results” then the marketplace will just copy and follow what others do to produce results. Copying isn’t learning or creating new knowledge that can be applied systemically. If you haven’t noticed yet old school thinking about marketing isn’t working very well. The same thinking is being followed within social media.

Remember Jonestown?

Jonestown was the informal name for the “Peoples Temple Agricultural Project”, an intentional community in northwestern Guyana formed by the Peoples Temple, a cult from California, United States, led by Jim Jones. It became internationally notorious when, on November 18, 1978, 918 people died from drinking the Kool-Aid laced with cyanide per the instructions of their preacher/leader Jim Jones.

How could 918 people believe one mans perspective and ended up dieing because they believed it? Because those people were lead by Jim Jones personality, the influence of his communications and the message he propagated to his “cult” of followers. Sound familiar?  Several teenagers have committed suicide based on the influence of communications expressed to them on Myspace. Folks, use of social media is very serious stuff! Be careful what you follow.

Listening to and following the wrong influence can hurt your reputation, your business and possibly your life. I lost an 18 year old son four years ago this week because the wrong influence created from communications and relationships that led to his death. Try swallowing that pill! I do everyday!

What Matters?

What matters most to us individually and to entire markets is learning and understanding. Learning can be as simple as listening. Understanding requires us to put perspectives into context of intent and rationale.  Then and only then can we choose wisely whether to follow and participate. Intent and rationale should be in context to purpose and meaning. Many conversations are centric to selfish purposes and have limited meaning. Selfish purposes have an intent to serve the one communicating rather than those listening.

Yes, we can learn a lot from the market of conversations but we learn most from the right conversations.  Which ones are those? Those that bring new knowledge and enlightenment to your thinking. You have to decide whether to follow the crowd or think on your own. Your thinking can be enhanced by a few rather than the many or what is popular today.

Sometimes following and believing what is popular can hurt you and your organization. This is especially so if the many you follow and believe are drinking the kind of Kool-Aid that is laced with the wrong perspectives.

What do you think?


Mark Harai December 4, 2009 at 6:58 am

Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? …… http://bit.ly/6yIgK1

ingenesist December 3, 2009 at 11:17 pm

RT @JDeragon Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? | The Relationship Economy…… http://bit.ly/65VzH5

Erin Driscoll December 2, 2009 at 8:26 am

RT @JDeragon Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? | The Relationship Economy…… http://bit.ly/65VzH5

shannonevans December 2, 2009 at 12:11 am

RT @SocialNetDaily: Social Media Kool-Aid http://ow.ly/HvLV Jonestown and Social Media??? REally? Interesting post perspective.

Social Media December 2, 2009 at 12:00 am

Social Media Kool-Aid http://ow.ly/HvLV

Ken Banks December 2, 2009 at 12:00 am

Social Media Kool-Aid http://ow.ly/HvLF

Marc Parent December 1, 2009 at 8:52 am

Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid?

Lauren Ranke November 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm

RT @simonmainwaring: RT @JDeragon Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? | The Relationship Economy…… http://bit.ly/65VzH5

Simon Mainwaring November 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm

RT @JDeragon Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? | The Relationship Economy…… http://bit.ly/65VzH5

WISELY WOVEN November 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? – http://bit.ly/8qgZQc

JDeragon November 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

New blog post: Drinking The Social Media Kool-Aid? http://www.relationship-economy.com/?p=7856

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