GUEST POSTING: The social media tribes go to war

the-outsidersIn the first of a regular series of guest postings, Telstra’s Mike Hickinbotham argues that social media practitioners are splitting into two camps.

The recent debate about the Tourism Queensland and Witchery videos has appeared to have created two distinct online ‘tribes’.  I’ll reference a classic novel to highlight the differences – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

On one side we have the advertisers – the socials or the ‘socs’ (pronounced ‘soashes’) that are schooled in the traditional ways of top-down, one-way communication.  This preppy crew maintains their focus on advertising but incorporates elements of social media to offer clients or internal stakeholders an additional channel to reach the target audience.

On the other side of the tracks we have the ‘greasers’.  This working class group of bloggers are producing content on a regular basis to engage a community of people that follow their work.  The greasers are often administering last rites to traditional media (i.e. newspapers).

Just like the novel these two sides do not get along.  

Let’s take a look at the quote Naked’s chief executive Mat Baxter provided Mumbrella to highlight ‘socs’ social media thinking.

“We’re aware of the hypothetical rules in this sphere – there are a lot of people out there who claim to have the rule book. But the reality is that it will be shaped by what the consumer will tolerate.”

 What will the consumer tolerate?  From a ‘socs’ perspective, it could be the starting point to connect with the consumer.  ‘Viral’ is an aspirational strategy.  Social media is a transitional tool to support an advertising campaign.

What will the consumer tolerate?  From the ‘greaser’ perspective that question isn’t the starting point to connect with the consumer.  The question instead is ‘what value can I provide the consumer?’  Greasers want to offer something of value that is considered worthy by their community to share with friends, family and colleagues.  Social media becomes a transformational tool – a game changer.

There will probably be a place in the marketplace for both the ‘socs’ and the ‘greasers’.

I think the last ten days will fuel a debate that will continue in the boardrooms and hallways of agencies and corporations.

My question to Mumbrella’s readers is will one side emerge as the preferred choice?  Should one side emerge as the right choice?

Mike Hickinbotham is Telstra’s Social Media Senior Advisor.  You can check out his blog at:


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