Please marketers, do not turn social media into yet another mall

Jesus cleansing of the temple
Jesus cleansing of the temple


Social media marketing is a contradiction in terms.

Why? Well, for the simple reason that introducing money into what supposed to be an unsolicited, free zone of interaction between friends and people who have something in mutual to share with each other, breaks the trust that is the basis of free communication .
In the world saturated with an obsession for profit almost at any cost it is kind of an absurd that it is not self evident that marketing and selling stuff should not be imposed on our relationships with our friends and closed ones.
Apparently the culture of consumerism has reached now such proportions that we started loosing sight of the sacredness of this trust. Without this sacred trust the whole fabric of interest free association and interaction with friends is breaking apart and impoverishes all involved.
Social media revolution began when people realized that they can connect to each other independently trough all these platforms that have offered all kinds of connectivity possibilities, like sharing ideas, pictures, talking to distant friends and relatives.
Besides writing emails, social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit allowed people to express themselves with the multimedia options and create all kinds of grouping possibilities according to their preferences. The whole idea of being able of making new connections trough friends of friends and finding new friends based on mutual interests and hobbies opened up the window to a whole new universe of possibilities where people could suddenly feel less isolated.
The old world in which you were stuck for life in old circles depending on your localities has been suddenly radically altered and new patterns of association have opened up.
Imagine you are a young single woman or guy, open to romantic interaction. Somewhere in the back of your mind you know that this lovely new contact, who is a friend of your trusted friend could be a potential date. After while you realize that the real reason they have ask for your online friendship is because they see you as a potential client for whatever they have to sell, whatever it is and you are free to insert your own personal experience. Wouldn’t you feel disappointed and let down? Wouldn’t you feel a breach of trust?
Now, of course I am not talking about sharing our experiences and expertise with our friends and relatives which could be called natural marketing. If you are my friend and you are a lawyer, of course I would value your expert advice in your field as you could naturally rely on my contribution of my own field of expertise. This natural sharing of gifts is part of our human generosity and it goes back to the dawn of humanity.
As an artist, I share freely the images of my art, as well as ideas and feelings. There is a possibility that someone will like my image enough to want to buy the original which has happened several times in my online activity. This is great and it’s a great pleasure to be able to make a free non coercive transaction where goods and money change hands. I have a used car in good condition that I want to sell and I would naturally let the friends in my network, know before I sell to complete stranger. It could be argued that this is exactly what social media marketing is and therefore I am wrong to criticize it.But honestly, I do not think so. There is a big difference in attitude and intent between the two.
Making monetary interactions with your friends is natural and feels wholesome since there is an element of gifting when you allow me to buy something of value from you, be it your expertise, your book, painting or pair of shoes you wore only once.
Recently I asked a friend to bring me cigars from another country cause where I live they are not available. There was a monetary transaction involved but it has nothing to do with selling or marketing. Social media gurus and marketers incourage their followers to engage in selling their stuff trough the circle of their trusted friends, online and elsewhere which weakens the sacred bond built on trust.
Many years ago when I first came to live in US a friend introduced me to a multimarketing company called Amway, selling at the time mostly cleaning products. I had no idea what is multilevel marketing, selling nor was I aware to what extend the American way of life is based on the idea of selling. I thought it would be a great part time income supplement and invited all of my friends in Boston to join .It was a lot of fun cause non of us was really into selling and most of the friends where academicians who worked or studied in one of the many academic institutions of the greater Boston area. Soon of course I have ran out of friends and then came the challenge how to approach complete strangers . It was pre Internet days and the big gurus who were boasting at rallies with their five figure incomes incouraged us to turn our relatives and friends into customers and if we ran out of friends, then make new ones. I have found myself suddenly looking at people I’ve met in parties or social gatherings as a potential customers of sell man in my marketing organization. It felt awful. Instead of trying to make friends without any incentive other then the friendship itself I found myself agonized about different schemes of approaching people without making them immediately aware of the fact that I want to sell them Amway.
I think I have lost many potential friends at that time.
I have no doubt that in today’s rallies those high income gurus incourage their followers to join social networks and built followers to recruit them into their marketing schemes.
Again. I am not against marketing or selling and buying. But please, dear marketers, leave the social media free of oblique selling, using our networks of friends and turning the great invention of the Internet into yet another great mall.

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