Monday, February 25, 2013
Q-and-A: Author B.J. Mendelson says Social Media is Bullshit in new book
You heard the man.
It’s 2013 and ad agencies are still unable to tell us the true value of a Facebook Like. With gazillions of fake Twitter accounts, no one is sure what to value the fastest growing social platform in the world. However, there are more than a thousand companies like Splash Media and Reach Local trying to sell every local business on why they should go social.
According the author B.J. Mendelson, they are full of shit. In his latest book Social Media Is Bullshit, Mendelson is on a mission to help business see through the hype and expand their online presence.
sosoActive: I use to work for a pretty large advertising firm so I understand what you mean when you say social media is bull. In 2013, Why do you think most people still believe the hype?
B.J. Mendelson: There’s no critical thought about it. No one wants to look dumb or different, especially in America, and so because of that nobody wants to be the one to stand up and say that a lot of this stuff (not all, just a lot of it) is bullshit and doesn’t work. Plus when it comes to the American media in particular, they don’t want to say that this stuff is overhyped because they helped in overhyping it and a lot of them are dependent on these outlets for traffic and attention. Not to mention, they run the risk of pissing off the wrong people by bashing these companies and if they do, they may no longer have access to them, meaning they have to kiss up to the social media executives.
On top of all that (as if this wasn’t enough), a lot of companies waste a lot of money on social media, and for them to admit that it’s BS would mean they’ve wasted a lot of money. And since we’re talking about publicly traded companies here, that’d be a lot of trouble for a lot of executives. My favorite example? I was at the WOMMA Conference and the thing I heard the most was, “I totally agree with you, but if I did it publicly, I’d be fired.”
Why do you think so many novices refer to themselves as gurus or social media experts?
They’re assholes. Anyone who repackages and resells harmful, deceptive, and misleading advice not rooted in truth is simply a hustler; no different than the panhandler on the train who does the “May I have your attention please” speech and then goes home to a comfortable apartment because he’s figured out a good hustle.
(Note: That’s not to say all panhandlers have nice apartments. A lot of them legitimately need the money, but there’s a bunch of them who have figured out the game and have used it to their advantage. That’s what the “experts,” “gurus,” and “ninjas” do. They’ve figured out the game and now they’re just hustling you for money. That makes them assholes.)
Why should we buy Social Media is Bullshit?
There’s no other book like it and it’s backed up with three years worth of facts, notes, research, and interviews about how social media marketers have made themselves rich off the ignorance of others and duplicity.
Why did you decide to take a break from writing?
I asked for a divorce from my wife. I knew I couldn’t support her financially if I remained in Glens Falls, which is where she wanted to stay for the rest of her life, and rather than be a burden, I said it was time for me to go. Of course, we were together for six years, so it has been quite a change, and I’m still dealing with that. So I haven’t been able to write anything consistently since.
I see that you were a Political Science major. What inspired you to create a scholarship at the Crane School of Music?
The two aren’t related. I became a political science major because of a last minute moment of idiocy by my advisor in SUNY Potsdam’s drama department. Most college kids can relate to this: I was cleared to take a course in the spring, only to hear, less than an hour before the class, that I didn’t meet the requirements from that same advisor who told me I did in the spring. So, I got pissed and, not wanting to transfer, just took the major that sounded most appealing. Almost everything I learned I learned outside the classroom running my own business, so the degree was just to make my dad happy.
The scholarship was created for my grandfather, Oscar Cohen, who passed away my first day at SUNY Potsdam. I wanted to do something great to remember him because he was a great man and a role model for me. He was also entirely self-educated, being pulled out of school at an early age to build furniture with his bare hands and transitioning to an entrepreneur with two successful men’s clothing stores in Brooklyn.
I see that you once ran your own booking agency. Are you still actively involved in the music business or do you have plans to make a return?
I only booked concerts because at the time I was too young to get into a lot of the comedy clubs in my area. So I figured out that if I rent a venue, book bands, and have the bands sell tickets before the show, I’d cover my costs. And since it was my show, I would then go on and do my stand-up set before the show started. So I don’t actively work in the music business anymore.
Honestly? I booked 55 of those shows. I learned a lot, but I also learned that you deal with a lot of ego and drama, and I don’t have the patience for that kind of thing. Hence the book title.
What type of marketing advice would you give a new musician trying to establish an online presence?
Don’t ... just kidding. The advice is the same as it is for offline: Know your audience. What do they like? What do they read? What platforms do they use? How old are they? You need to figure all that stuff out and then, once you have a picture, decide what makes the most sense to do given the time and money you have. So you may find that Twitter does make a lot of sense, but it also could be a waste of time. The thing everyone messes up with, though, is their audience. If you don’t know that, you don’t know anything.
Pegasus News Content partner - soso Active