Rise of the Idiots

Waking this morning, turning as I normally do to check the latest emails, social media updates and notifications on my mobile, I had the painful realisation that I had slipped into the world of Nathan Barley – and I am now living in a world where the ‘idiots’ rule.

Although first screened in 2005, before Facebook, Twitter and the plethora of social media sites had really entered many of our lives; it could have easily been written yesterday –(although Nathan would probably have preferred the term ‘social media consultant’ over ‘Self-facilitating media node’ had it been written today).

The ‘age of stupidity’ has well and truly arrived.

My Facebook stream is full of half-baked conspiracy theories, inspirational quotes and ‘like’ requests from brands. My Twitter stream is packed with people thanking other people for following them. And my LinkedIn inbox has become a new email box for the desperate.

Common sense and good marketing practice seem to have been replaced by ‘content creation’ and ‘engagement strategy’.  The marketing message replaced by the Harlem Shake.

What went wrong?

Quite simply people stopped thinking. They decided if it could be done, it should be done. If someone else is doing it, so should we.

Good marketing, whether it is digital or not, is about understanding your audience, your proposition, your message – selecting the right channels to reach those people. It is about achieving a result, a return for the investment of time, energy and money you put in.

It starts with a result in mind, it is not an afterthought.

Of course, if the result you are looking for is to position your company as out of touch, scrabbling to keep up to date with the latest trend, following the crowd, then it is right to assemble your team and get them to do 48 seconds of the funky chicken on camera.

If you are looking for some engagement stats to show your boss, to prove that all that time you spend on Facebook is really worthwhile, go take a picture of a kitten and ask your friends to like your page if they do too.  Perhaps, ask them to ‘share’ it with their friends while they’re at it.

If you would like to show your professional connections how desperate you are for their business, go send a blanket LinkedIn message to all of them explaining why so many people have chosen not to do business with you.

However, if you want to truly engage with your audience, to help them choose you out of the crowd, in the competitive digital space – you need to help them connect with what it is you can do for them. Perhaps even give them access to a little bit of it.

You need to nurture your best customers, help them spread the word for you. Provide reasons for your audience to want to engage with you – be there for them when they need you, and not when they don’t.  

Adding the word ‘strategy’ to a phrase does not make it the clever thing to do. ‘Content Strategy’ and ‘Engagement Strategy’ are terms too frequently used to cover up poor marketing advice. (Although both can be done well by the right company)

Social media provides your business with a set of tools. You can use them to build new business, and just as easily, to destroy any chance of it. By asking ‘Why?’, rather than ‘How?’ or ‘What?’ you can keep your thinking focused on the results you are looking for, instead of what’s possible.  In doing so, you’ll stand a fighting chance of achieving your business aims, in the digital space or any other. 

Do you agree or disagree? Perhaps you have examples of good content that has worked for your own business? Add your comment below.



About the Author

I’m fascinated by how a company or organisation can change its fortunes and even undergo a transformation by looking at a challenge in a different way and by behaving in different ways.


  1. James Whatley Says :
    Posted on April 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    ‘Social media provides your business with a set of tools.’ – Ne’er a truer word was spoken, in more ways than one. Good post.

    • Aren
      Posted on April 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks James : )

  2. Max Says :
    Posted on April 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Yes! Another Nathan Barley fan, do you have a Geek Pie as well? Also great read Aren. The morons definitely have taken over.

  3. Robert Pickstone Says :
    Posted on April 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm


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