Is Social Media Becoming the Cocktail Party from Hell?

Digital Marketing

Two weeks ago an inter­est­ing opin­ion piece in the NY Times by Mau­reen Dowd sug­gest­ed that “social media has become the cock­tail par­ty from hell… with the flood of infor­ma­tion jeop­ar­diz­ing mean­ing”. It caught my atten­tion when I first read it, but since I’ve heard it cit­ed a few times since, I thought I’d add my 2 cents.

Let’s look at how social media has changed everyone’s lives:

  • 1.1bn peo­ple are now on Face­book, with an aver­age of 140 friends
  • 665m Face­book users are active every day
  • 189m Face­book users only use it on mobile (with some reports say­ing that users now check their mobile on aver­age 150 times per day)
  • 400m Tweets are sent every day
  • 90% of the world’s data has been pro­duced in the last 2 years
  • The amount of data cre­at­ed every 48 hours is to the scale of all data col­lat­ed from the begin­ning of time until 2003

Need­less to say that is a lot of noise. If you’ve ever read Nate Silver’s fan­tas­tic book “The Sig­nal and the Noise” (if you haven’t you should), then you may also agree that whilst the amount of noise being cre­at­ed on a dai­ly basis is increas­ing expo­nen­tial­ly, the amount of use­ful infor­ma­tion is prob­a­bly not.

There­in lies the root of the prob­lem. The growth of all this data is also the rea­son why jour­nal­ists suck, as Dowd sug­gests, and that social media may have become “the cock­tail par­ty from hell”.

It’s a great anal­o­gy because for a long time social mar­keters have been say­ing that social media is like a cock­tail par­ty and you need to work the room. In my opin­ion, the sen­ti­ment still rings as true as it ever has. Wouldn’t you rather talk to some­one inter­est­ing, polite and takes the time to lis­ten to you – rather than some­one who is loud, obnox­ious and tries to sell them­selves? Brands are no dif­fer­ent. They do need talk to their cus­tomers on their social media chan­nels as if they are at a cock­tail par­ty.

The issue here isn’t that social media is los­ing all mean­ing; it’s sim­ply that it is more dif­fi­cult than ever to fil­ter out what you actu­al­ly want to hear from all the noise. Mar­keters have had this prob­lem for years. I remem­ber being in brand com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the late 90s when jour­nal­ists were say­ing adver­tis­ing was becom­ing mean­ing­less because we were exposed to over 10,000 adver­tis­ing mes­sages every day. The goal­posts may have moved but the issues and the prob­lems remain the same. Luck­i­ly there is a solu­tion.

Adobe Social tracks over 10 mil­lion blogs, forums and social net­works for many of the largest brands in the world (NFL, Dis­ney, Levi’s) in order to help them make sense of all this noise. Brands that I reg­u­lar­ly speak to may have mil­lions of men­tions of their brand each day, but only need to respond to a few thou­sand of the most rel­e­vant con­ver­sa­tions. Hun­dreds of peo­ple may be talk­ing about your brand, but only 50 may actu­al­ly be dri­ving sales or traf­fic to your web­site. It is impor­tant for brands – espe­cial­ly the ones with small teams and even small­er bud­gets – to be able to make sense of all this data in a mean­ing­ful way. They can then deliv­er data to the busi­ness in a way that is going to help them achieve their objec­tives.

Sales pitch over! But the ray of hope I offer to you is Duane Munn. You may nev­er have heard of him, but he is the super­star social media man­ag­er of the NFL, and he uses Adobe Social. What is most impres­sive about Munn is that whilst he man­ages a huge glob­al pres­ence for the NFL and its 32 teams, he does it all on his own (with­out hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ty man­agers, social media execs or assis­tants). One man! He doesn’t wear his under­pants out­side his trousers or have any spe­cial super pow­ers, but he does use some very smart soft­ware to help him make sense of every­thing hap­pen­ing in social media. When you can make sense of what every­one is say­ing amongst all that noise, it makes the cock­tail par­ty a pret­ty nice place to be.


Want more? Read –> Why Adobe Social 3.0 Rocks by Lawrence Mak

Digital Marketing

Posted on 15-05-2013


  • By SAJID - 6:31 PM on May 15, 2013   Reply

    Oh the stats for the growth of social media has increased man­i­fold. And yes i would love to give Adobe Social a try… It looks promis­ing. I am already using the Full Ver­sion of Dreamweaver and it is the best prod­uct i like.

  • By John - 8:29 PM on May 20, 2013   Reply

    I am try­ing to avoid Hell, why would I want to spend my life attend­ing a cock­tail par­ty where infor­ma­tion is irrel­e­vant?

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