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Is “The Like’s” 15 Minutes Up?

Date posted: January 24, 2013

by  Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian), San Francisco Bay The half-life of online marketing miracles is notoriously short.

Is it possible that “the like” is about to join the podcast, the widget, and the QR code in the Museum Of Make-Believe Marketing Miracles?

It sure seems that way. There has been a whole lot of chatter lately about the dubious value of likes. While this chatter is about 2 years overdue, I guess it’s better than never.

First, Business Insider had a piece recently about Facebook’s new Giraffe Search. It was called,Graph Search Is Really A Plan To Rescue The Like.”

They said that Facebook introduced Giraffe Searchbecause “recently it (the like) has fallen out of favor with advertisers.” 

Next a blogger, engineer, and entrepreneur named Steve Cheney called the like acon.He went on to say that in the case of almost half the Facebook likes “there is no true affinity between the like and the object” and, in fact, most likes were bought by bribes.

“For the past several years big advertisers on FB have actually been directing massive amounts of paid media to acquire fans. They quite literally bought likes.”

And now Adweek, in an article entitled “Social to Play Second String on Game Day” tells us that the magic of social media is not quite as magical as it once was on Super Bowl Sunday. Regarding Facebook and Twitter they say “there is a growing debate over their true value and effectiveness.” Gosh, whodathunkit?

Adweek goes on to quote some Super Bowl advertisers. The CMO of GoDaddy (god help us) says that … “at the end of the day, I am going to look at the traffic coming into our site and how that’s affecting sales” rather than any social metric like ‘likes.’

The chief media bigshot at Universal McCann said…

How many Facebook ‘likes’ a brand gets is just the tip of the iceberg… You can actually tie on-site data to test drives and sales, and that is what (automotive) clients really care about.

I’m not really sure what the hell he’s talking about, other than that likes are pretty worthless.

This is quite a turn around from recent years in which advertisers judged their Super Bowl savvy by the oh-so-sophisticated method of counting tweets and likes — in the demented belief that these gimmicks meant something.

Of course, there are always knuckleheads who just don’t get it and never will. And guess who’s grand marshall of the Super Bowl knucklehead parade? You got it Pepsi.

Just a few years ago, Pepsi was the darling of the new age marketing gurus for pulling all their money out of the Super Bowl and putting it into social media. That proved to be historically, massively stupid.

Now (just as someone you love predicted) they are going back to their old game plan — pop stars. And like the typical marketer that’s completely lost at sea, they’re doubling down on what they recently scorned — the Super Bowl. Not only are they buying spots, they are sponsoring the half-time show with Beyonce and paying her $50 million. As Jonathon Salem Baskin says in Forbes…

“There will be other explanations for why sales and profits continue to slide, even as Beyonce garners zillions of likes and song downloads.”

But nothing can stop the marketing train wreck that is Pepsi. They are so confused that even as they spend recklessly on the Super Bowl they still don’t understand that it is a made-for-tv event and the only important thing is having great spots.

Here’s what their Chief Worldwide Digital Global Jargonator had to say:

“There’s a lot of tricks to winning the social media buzz wars…but being a part of the culture in a way that extends brand equity is the effect we want to see.”

Hmmm…seems to me I’ve heard this social-media-brand-equity-culture-buzz BS somewhere before…oh, yeah…the Pepsi Refresh Project

How’d that work for you?

– The Ad Contrarian is Bob Hoffman, ceo of Hoffman/Lewis advertising in San Francisco and St. Louis. Hoffman is the author of The Ad Contrarian and 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising. Reprinted from his blog The Ad Contrarian.

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