This week I’ve been really enjoying reading the finely-titled book “Social Media Is Bullshit” by BJ Mendelson. Its a provocative title alright, but really the point of Mendelson’s ire here is not so much social media itself, but more the ecosystem of bullshit that has grown around it: the marketers, analysts and self-styled experts who sell social media as the solution to all our marketing problems. Ultimately, this book is a call for a bit more common sense in marketing and a bit less blind acceptance of stats and reports making often too-good-to-be-true claims. Certainly for me what resonated was the author’s attack on rather vague social media metrics being used as a genuine indicator of success. As various others (most recently Lucy Blair in her MIDEM blog) have pointed out, this is a real problem in the music industry and one that needs addressing ASAP. Radio 1 could be cited as a contributing factor to this problem in my view, purely because any campaign with an eye on their playlist focusses on the stats they know the station wants to see. However I think along the way everyone – myself included – has at some point fallen for the stats game and allowed it to dictate our strategies, and that is not a good thing.
What I like about this book is that it is not just an all-out attack with a wholly negative tone. Through the book Mendelson outlines the problems but crucially then offers solutions based on his own experiences. Reading those is a welcome dose of common sense and whilst the book isn’t perfect (and at some points lost me purely because marketing music is not the same as marketing soap powder or any other product), it certainly gives you grounds to sit and truly re-evaluate your perspective on modern media and what *really* works.
I wouldn’t say this is a book purely for marketing people either; arguably managers and label staff of any type should take a read to get that much-needed dose of perspective. Amid a multitude of blogs telling us these platforms are the future, that’s very welcome indeed.