Social media rock--everybody (100%) says so. It's the only marketing that works anymore, according to 90% of people (US study)! TV advertising? Dead. Kaput. (I guess nobody told the advertisers, who continue to spend millions per year.) 80% of all online comments about social media are positive! The other 20% don't know what they're talking about. And, finally, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. If I see one more generalized percentage about the pervasiveness, influence, and overall wonderfulness of social media, I think I will lose it. These thoughts came to mind when one of my students showed the Social Media Revolution2 video during a class presentation earlier this year. Since then I have seen it inserted in numerous blogs and on various social media websites. And in my opinion, it is one of the best examples of social media propaganda I ever have seen, which is saying a lot. And people have seen it, closing in on one-half million YouTube views, following the video's earlier version, which to date has logged 2 million. But oh those statistics!

I hate to be so pedantic, but before I continue, let me be clear as to what I'm talking about: “Social media” describes a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking. There is a wide variety of social media, ranging from social sharing sites (YouTube and Flickr) through social networks (LinkedIn and Facebook). Needless to say, I devote an enormous amount of attention to social media in my book because they collectively provide a formidable channel by which marketing people can connect with consumers. Yet, I also believe that social media can be overrated, and social media marketing is not for everyone, or for every situation. At this website, I hope to shatter many of the misconceptions about new marketing in the new millennium, while at the same time pointing out its boundless potential. I hope that doesn't sound contradictory, but let's get back to that Social Revolution video. It is not my intention to address every inflated statistic, but let me just highlight a few.

The first statistic thrown in our faces is that over 50% of the world's population is under 30 years old. That may be true, but what isn't expressed is that the world's population is aging. To wit: The median age in Europe currently is 37.7, but it is expected to rise to 52.3 by 2050. A fourth of all Austrians and a third of Germans are expected to be 60 or older by 2015. This, of course, may not matter for social marketers--those Millennials who have never lived in a pre-Internet world should be expected to continue their online activity well into old age. While I'm on the topic of Millennials (those aged 18-29, born between 1980-95), another early statistic presented in the video we are asked to accept is that 96% of Millennials have joined a social network. Now think about that statement for a minute. No, think about it for 2 seconds, which is all it should take to recognize that we are expected to believe that 96% of all 18-29 year olds in the world are active participants in social networks. Given the fact that Internet penetration in all of Africa is currently under 10%, the fallacy of that Millennial claim is glaring.

Another claim in the video is that there are over 200 million blogs in cyberspace. I do not deny that number, but I think it is important to ask how many of those blogs remain active. Recent estimates suggest not many, with indications that 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within one month of their creation. As some have suggested, the 'average blog' has the lifespan of a fruitfly. What we have in cyberspace with regard to abandoned blogs is akin to all the dead, drifting detritus the world's space programs have left above. Among the 10 million blogs tracked by BlogPulse, Intelliseek reports that 31% are active within the last 30 days, 44% are active within the last 60 days and slightly more than half (51%) are active within the last 90 days. By 'active" it is meant that a new post has been added.

My last point pertains to the claim that only 14% of consumers trust advertising. Trust in traditional marketing approaches is down, no question. It is a point I emphasize in my book. However, the death of advertising, dear reader, has been greatly exaggerated - a topic I will address in a future post.