Could it be? TV commercials are being outperformed by those annoying ads you see while you are waiting to watch an online video? According to Ad Week and this informative graphic, yes:
Hate is a strong word, so let me tell you what I "dislike" about social media. I dislike social media "gurus," or whatever term they use to describe their startling lack of knowledge. I also dislike people who think social media is a big waste of time. Yup, I dislike both these people. Here is a relatively new Jack in the Box commercial that details my point:
Actually, that video did nothing to detail my point, so I'll do it myself. First, the intern is depicted as being mostly worthless. Jack, woefully unamused by whatever it is she is saying, asks her to do a menial task so he can get to a his meeting, a much more important task in the "real world." What the commercial is saying is obvious: social media isn't as important as real, grown up work. It's also making a blanket statement about those in the social media profession - they don't even know how to perform simple tasks like operating a printer.
While I think this is an offensive portrayal of a social media professional, I also understand the roots of this stereotype. It's people like Jack, who don't understand or have any desire to understand social media, that are giving these people jobs. For example, I once was working on a project for a big company and one of the broad members had a nephew that "does social media" (his words) and wanted to bring them in on the project. Never mind that he was already paying us a lot of money to "do social media" (my words), he wanted to take a trip down nepotism road. This is how we get interns with no real world skills being thrust into what has become important communication roles.
The manager, in this analogy Jack, doesn't get social media and devalues it. This is what leads to hiring an intern, because social media is something kids do, therefore they will know how to "Facebook". This drives me nuts, because there is a huge audience on social media. I won't quote the exact numbers, because they have far exceed the threshold of relevancy. What we have are communication channels with millions of users and I still see a whole lot of organizations handing it over to underqualified people. They wouldn't hand their TV, radio, direct mail or networking strategies over to an intern, I hope.
The manager needs to wake up and needs to realize how important social media as a communication tool has become. I also don't blame them, however, because there are a lot of sketchy people practicing social media. In this industry, it somehow became okay to label yourself. Some of the labels I hate the most:
Jedi (listed twice because it's that egregious).
Here's what I believe. You don't get to label yourself. It's misdirection. It's drawing attention to the term "guru" so one doesn't question you. I've also seen these labels get handed out with absolutely no vetting process. I've entered meetings for the first time and have been introduced as the "social media guru." How do they know this? They've never worked with me. There needs to be a barrier of entry before anyone can label anyone else an expert in anything.
I believe this stems from fear, however. Too many people are too intimidated by social media. They fear the depth of the technology, the speed in which it changes and the quantities in which it expands. Anyone with any knowledge beyond theirs seems "advanced," and I believe this is dangerous.
What's the solution?
Managers need to seek out talented individuals to lead their marketing efforts in these outlets. Interns are great, but interns shouldn't be leading your social media strategy. Who should be leading this strategy? People with experience using social media tools, but also have experience in marketing and communication.
Identify quality candidates. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. Don’t ever confuse knowledge of technology with knowledge of strategy. Don't undervalue the position. If managers follow these guidelines, we will start seeing less of the social media intern in a management role. We will instead see more qualified candidates in these roles, thus elevating the perception of social media professionals.