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“In the olden days, the relentless pounding of advertising turned the craft of marketing into something consumers learned, at best, to tolerate. Social media may well be the pain reliever we have all needed — the medicine that makes advertising relevant and welcome in our lives.”
-Randall Rothenberg, then President and CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), in 360i’s “Social Marketing Playbook,” 2009
“The most common question parents ask me is, ‘Is social media safe for my kids?’ The answer is that we don’t have enough evidence to say it’s safe, and in fact, there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health.”
-US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, 2023
What does social media have in common with gun violence, drunk driving, and cigarettes? Welcome to the pantheon of surgeon general advisories.
I’m still getting through the new report, “Social Media and Youth Mental Health: The US Surgeon General’s Advisory,” but it’s a bitter day for many of us who, like Randall and my old agency, envisioned so much promise for the channel.
Social media doesn’t fit as neatly into the other categories of advisories. Drunk driving is always bad. One can argue whether it’s safe to drive after a single drink, but inebriation always has the potential to cause harm to the driver, passengers, and all other people who come in the driver’s path. Social media need not be harmful as a rule.
But it has fallen so far short of its promise. That’s as true for advertisers as consumers. Starting about a decade ago, social media marketing became dominated by media buys that had nothing to do with the potential of the medium. Ads running on Facebook that happen to allow comments and likes are a far cry from the truly interactive forms of marketing many of us espoused starting around 2005 that involved listening to and responding to customers.
At least, many of us hoped, social media would do no harm. That standard is no longer tenable. It’s impossible to ignore some of the harm being done.
The report offers practical guidance, and it doesn’t assume one will read this and delete all their social accounts. Here’s one recommendation, which hardly just applies to parents:
“Parents can set a good example of what responsible and healthy social media use looks like by limiting their own use, being mindful of social media habits (including when and how parents share information or content about their child), and modeling positive behavior on your social media accounts.”
As humans and marketers, we can attempt to steer things in the right direction.
Then there’s Casey Newton’s conclusion in Platformer: “When I first started writing a newsletter about social networks, the consequences of children using it were largely a mystery. But little by little, we’re beginning to understand both the risks and the benefits. And on the question of whether using social networks poses risks to children, the surgeon general’s warning today suggests that the answer is almost certainly yes.”
It’s not just social media that has strayed from its potential.
Can we talk about web3?
Ad Age just reported from the Web3 Marketing Summit, which is a self-selecting group. You’re not going to have panels full of people who abandoned web3 marketing or want nothing to do with it. But even this more positive piece hinted at some of web3’s biggest challenges for marketers.
The article, while full of examples of how brands are using web3, kept describing how all the nomenclature around it needs to go.
Here’s an emblematic quote from Bianca Posterli, head of brand marketing at Doodles, a prominent NFT brand (one that dominated SXSW 2022): “The second that anyone sees ‘NFTs’ or ‘blockchain,’ they’re immediately turned off.” web3 has a marketing problem.
web3 also tends to run into problems showing how such tech differs from what came before it. There’s an example in the article of how Reddit went from rebranding its NFT collection as “collectible avatars.” Do we need blockchain for that? Is my Netflix profile pic a “collectible avatar”? What about my icon on the Nintendo Switch? Or how about the AOL Instant Messenger “Buddies” from 1996 or Yahoo Messenger avatars from 2004? Most of the web3 demos I’ve checked out the past few months share some version of this problem. They either solve a problem that doesn’t exist, or they solve a problem that has already been solved by more reliable approaches.
The biggest issue with web3 isn’t the lack of consumer confusion. It’s that as soon as most people are exposed to it, they discover there’s someone on the other side trying to pull one over on them. It’s hardly surprising that almost every scam message over DM on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and WhatsApp these days ultimately leads to crypto schemes.
Rick Wilson constantly evokes the hashtag on Twitter #ETTD: “Everything Trump Touches Dies.” I keep thinking about that with web3. #EW3TD. I recently left a web3 group I was associated with because a founder was indirectly but clearly lashing out against people I knew who were jumping on the AI bandwagon. Can’t we explore the potential of one sector without tearing down another? I also further empathize with the web3 abandoners as I launch the AI Marketers Guild. I’ve long believed that “opportunist” is a compliment.
It’s also common to see people leading web3 companies and groups to be constantly shilling something as they beg you to buy their NFTs and whatever else is in their decentralized trenchcoats.
Another one-time friend who I haven’t seen in about two decades was IMing me over the weekend sharing their idea for launching a new crypto coin that will pool donations to select non-profits that support religious causes. After telling her how those non-profits will lose out on all the donations when the coin price invariably goes to zero and advising her to support non-profits ANY way but with cryptocurrency, I had to end the interminable conversation. I did so with this advice: “Avoid crypto like the ten plagues.”
It all makes me wonder… why do web3 things happen to good people?
Finally, for our purposes today, there’s AI.
I think we’re going to go through these cycles of hype and disillusionment much faster with AI.
I felt it the other day when I was asking ChatGPT to riff on some creative ideas that I formerly would have done entirely myself. I missed the creative process. Not a word of this column was written by AI (really), but I’ve had moments of wondering whether anyone would care if it was.
Regardless of the quality of my writing, it’s fair to say that I’ve amassed quite a large quantity of it. It’s easy enough to train a language learning model (LLM) so that I could have a bot spit out a ton of ‘original’ writing on a new subject that sounds exactly like me. If I do that, how will I find the motivation to keep on writing?
There are so many societal threats from job loss to self-esteem issues. Ever look at a generative AI pic of yourself and feel uneasy about your own appearance?
The new generation of AI has the potential to rapidly find cures for every kind of cancer, but will that outpace the new social cancers that are unleashed?
I still love tech, overall. I’ve been playing around with so many AI tools lately, from better-known entities like Midjourney to my friend’s impressive job interview coach Winning Interviews. The best of them feel like magic and instill that sense of wonder
And yet, part of me can’t help but wonder if we — the marketers, the tech companies, the investors, even the consumers — are just f’ing it all up before we even get to really understand what good it can do.
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WHAT TO READ:
Recent content shared by Serial Marketers and friends:
- Meditation that adapts to you.
- Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile Gets a New Name After 100 Years by Sara Century
- 9 Things I Am Grateful for on Our 9th Birthday Today by Matt Prohaska
HOW TO SHARE
Thanks to Cary Munk, Dan LaFontaine, Andre Archimbaud, Devin Brown, Justin Dank, Pauline Echols, Paul Robinson, James A. Gardner, Seth Girksy, and Michael Winter for spreading the word about the newsletter recently.
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UPCOMING SERIAL MARKETERS EVENTS:
(times EST unless otherwise specified)
- 6/7, 5-7pm: First Wednesdays in-person NYC, Mason Jar on E 30th. RSVP on Meetup!
- 6/13, 1-2pm: AI Marketing: Risk, Rewards, Fears, and Hopes with Jeremiah Owyang!
- 6/14, 12-1pm: Serial Marketers
Social Salons. Connect with members 1:1 in quick breakout sessions to see how we can get to know and support each other.
- 7/20, 6-8pm: AIMG Presents: How Marketers are Really Using Generative AI. Join this event hosted by the AI Marketers Guild and BrainStation!
May 31, New York
“Welcome to the Largest Product Management Conference. Access cutting-edge Product Management industry trends and networking opportunities at ProductCon New York, organized by Product School. Hear fresh perspectives on Product from the heart of New York City, the fastest growing tech hub in the United States. We’re bringing together the best collection of Product Leaders from top technology companies to share tactics and best practices on how to build the next generation of software products.”
May 30 – June 2
“In 2023, consumer brands are no longer competing within their respective verticals, they’re competing for consumers’ share of wallet. SubSummit will lead you to the conversations, connections, and sessions that will guide your brand to thrive in these uncertain times.It’s the only conference where decision makers from the streaming, digital, and media & publication segment can discover game-changing strategies from sessions led by subscription box and memberships innovators — and vice versa. The most influential DTC experts come from all over the world to be at SubSummit.”
GLOSSY FUTURE OF FASHION & LUXURY SUMMIT
May 31 – June 2
“A new fashion industry has emerged in the last few years. The adoption of emerging technologies has been accelerated, the focus on socially responsible practices has moved front-and-center, the customer has become the decision-maker and the notion of planning has fallen by the wayside. At the same time, in response to changing shopper behavior, brands have braved new products, services and partnerships like never before. At Glossy’s Future of Fashion & Luxury Summit, leaders from the industry’s most influential brands will share their current strategies for marketing, merchandising and beyond, as they move past simply finding their footing. That includes how they’re taking advantage of new opportunities, prioritizing innovation, getting to know their customer and safeguarding for the future. In the new fashion world, the old rules don’t apply”
CONTENT MARKETING WORLD 2023
September 26-28, Washington D.C.
“Content Marketing World 2023, the largest gathering of content marketers in the world, is in an all-new location, Washington D.C., September 26-29. Produced by the Content Marketing Institute, #CMWorld is jam-packed with keynotes, sessions, workshops, and masterclasses, covering all aspects of content marketing. No matter your level of expertise, you can customize your experience at #CMWorld 2023. Come learn, network, and have fun making meaningful connections with fellow attendees and speakers before, during, and after the event. BONUS: Use the code SERIAL100 to save an extra $100 on your registration.”
Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. You can also see our full list of job resources here. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.
Customer Success Team Lead
“Adelaide is looking for a CS Team Lead for the Central/West regions to manage a team of CS individuals, develop client relationships and to ensure a positive client experience and a successful partnership. You’ll be joining a company making a positive impact on the digital media market using evidence-based metrics to increase the transparency of media quality. We’re remote for the foreseeable future, but you should expect to be in NYC a couple of times a year. This is a great role for someone excited about building out a team, whilst bridging the gap between our clients on the one hand and the Product, Sales, and Engineering teams on the other, keeping everyone up to speed on new developments, client requests, and technical challenges. The role reports into the VP, Customer Success.”
“The Finance Controller reports directly to the CFO and oversees all aspects of the financial reporting including monthly close, monthly reporting to the Headquarter, taxe reporting and liaison with the external auditors.The Finance Controller also overseas the day to day operations of AP and AR. The Finance Controller is highly motivated, strategic, organized, and an effective collaborator who can delegate and track multiple ongoing projects and responsibilities simultaneously.Biocodex is an independent multinational pharmaceutical company built on high-standards in science and manufacturing, with six decades of proven success.”
Growth Marketing Lead
United States only
“SureCo is a health and insurance technology company focused on improving the health of Americans. Our products target B2B solutions in the group benefits space and deliver tailored offerings to individual members. As we continue to scale, we seek industry leaders, with proven track records in driving results, to join our team. Our medical weight loss division is a direct-to-consumer program that utilizes technology and personalized guidance to help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We pride ourselves on our evidence-based approach and commitment to improving the lives of our clients. The Director level Growth Marketing Lead will be responsible for building and scaling the marketing function of this division, driving customer acquisition and revenue growth through the development and execution of comprehensive marketing strategies. The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of direct-to-consumer marketing, a proven track record of driving growth in a fast-paced, data-driven environment, and experience working in the healthcare industry.”
PR & Corporate Communications Manager
“We are looking for a PR & Corporate Communications Manager interested in starting a SWEET career as part of our Integrated Marketing Communications team, working between our newly established New York City office location and PIM’s Corporate Headquarters in Park Ridge, New Jersey. PIM’s new PR & Corporate Communications Manager will play a key role shaping and promoting our corporate identity and mission to key internal and external stakeholders such as current and future PIM associates, customers, trade partners, and the general public. This high exposure role will work directly with the Director of Integrated Marketing on PR activations, corporate partnerships, philanthropic initiatives, and various trade-related communications. Helping to ensure that PIM shows up with a consistent tone of voice and look and feel across all touchpoints they will own the ongoing management of PIM’s corporate website, intranet, and social media channels, collaborating across the organization to source news and materials, in addition to developing press releases, corporate presentations and templates, and related materials.”
Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board
Other job resources (see a full list here):
- Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
- Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
- Candidate: Featured marketing and sales jobs
- ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
- Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
- NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
- Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
- Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
- Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I’ll share them.——————————
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