Folks, “social media” is not the answer. A “great idea” is, and always has been, the answer.

The ambulance-chasers at “Business Insider” ran an article a few days a go with the headline “VW make another brilliant SEO-based ad.” (View above and read the hyperbole below).

Couple of things:

–       it’s a nice idea. Not new (unless you’ve been in the business 5 minutes) and not really “brilliant”. (But well done for resisting “awesome”, dorks.)

–       it’s has NOTHING to do with SEO. It is not an SEO-based idea, at all. SEO works on leveraging an idea, through its properties. It is not an idea in and of itself…

It really is a neat idea. But I wish “journalists”/ bloggers would do some homework on what similar idea preceded this.

This one – for example:

Every Want Ad you’ll see in the advertising journals is looking for “digital specialists”, or for “Social media Gurus.”

Your brand has a big problem? Hey, get a Facebook page. Do some “social media.” Or, better still, do a “viral” campaign.

What ARE you nincompoops smoking? Seriously.

Take Toyota. (Please, take ‘em all…)

The car company has been besieged by re-calls and reliability problems. The once revered reliable car has been proving to be unreliable.

The company has suffered numerous recalls, but the one last year caused me to take note.  I read that Toyota had “solved” their perception issues.

With, guess what? Yup. “Social media.”

The link is below. An S&M (my new name for the painful social media) spokesperson – called Kimberly – had a thirty minute video explaining how said magic formula was able to restore the Japanese car brand back to its former glory.

Their strategy?

1.    Get the executive upfront. (Rocket science.)

2.    Create “Positive News”. (Genius.)

3.    Put satisfied customers on video extolling the brand. (How DO these guys come up with such original thought?)

Oh. And one other thing. A bunch of very well-produced, warm, funny, engaging, videos. Long commercials. Good commercials. Two or tree minutes, some of them. (TV ads, to you and me.)

So let me refresh, here.

The solution to their problem is: Put the bosses on camera, spread good news and show testimonials. And do a huge TV campaign.

Could someone explain to me how this is any different to anything any ad agency would have done, not in 2013, but 2003, 1993 or 1983?

The difference is HOW the news got out and how the TV work was seen.

Now sure, there’s smart stuff there and knowing how and where to seed content and how to leverage it.

But the core is the actual content, itself. The message, if you will, not just the medium.

For some strange reason, we all seem to have become obsessed/ side-tracked into believing that “social media” is the answer. When it is, in point of fact, simply a tool, a new channel through which we can pass content.

It has gotten to insane levels. I drove past a storage place, by the side of a freeway, and on its roof was a huge sign saying “visit our Facebook page”.  A Facebook page? For a storage place? Why on earth would one want to visit the Facebook page of a storage facility? WHO would?

I can only assume that the owner of the establishment was kidnapped by that rather self-important Joseph Jaffa fellow (who a few years ago proclaimed the death of the TV ad).

Don’t listen to the consultants. Don’t listen to the S&M snake oil salesmen.

Listen to your customers. And communicate with them.

Do what Apple has always done: Imbue your product with a sense of wonder and anticipation for the ownership experience. Then, surpass that by some margin when they come to own it. And back it up with a service ethic, way beyond their expectations.

Oh. And use cool videos to get the message out and build the brand.

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