Hey Brands, Get Out Of My Social Media Grill

By Armando Samuels: “I was B&R in Panama and moved to the US 8 years ago to learn the language and go to school. I’m a wannabe photographer/pro fantasy football player/pro-karaoke singer/film maker aspiring to be a native English speaker, in my spare time I am an account guy at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles and a little bit of an Ad Junkie. I enjoy beer, women, sports and loud farts.”

Sorry, Burger King, but I don’t want to be your friend on Facebook & Cap’n Crunch, you need to stop trying to follow me on twitter.

I’m tired of dealing with brands all over social media, I need a minute of my day when brands are not all up on my shit. Is that possible? I know that social hubs like Facebook and twitter are relatively new and brands are scrambling to figure out what’s the best way to use them, but let me give you some advice, “STOP! You are not fooling anyone.”

I’m not saying advertising is bad. I love advertising and believe in it, but what I don’t believe in is this idea that all brands need to be part of social media. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but I’m talking about the other 98%.

Almost every brand in the world wants to jump on the social media express so they can “create stronger connections with their consumers”…I call BS. You want to sell me something, of course, but I honestly believe this is the wrong way of doing it. Aunt Jemima posting a message on my wall is not going to make me buy 2 liters of syrup. I appreciate your devotion to my money but I don’t need you to post on my wall nor send me tweets about the new 19.99 headsets at Radio Shack.

I know what you are going to say, “if you don’t like it, then don’t accept them” but that’s not my point. My point is that brands are wasting their time and money on a medium where they don’t belong and makes them look desperate. Social networks are for me, my friends and the people that I know, NOT BRANDS.

My friends don’t look at me as consumer and when they do it’s very uncomfortable. “YO! Mike, ma’ mom says you’re invited to dinner tomorrow, by the way I need to talk to you about this new weight band I’m selling.”

Listen, keep your friends close and your brands far away! I know where to get in touch with you when I need you.

Brands need to stop being so insecure. Yes, I said it. It’s like an ugly guy dating a really hot chick. He knows that she might leave him at any time so he tries to do everything in his power to prevent that to happen. He follows her to the supermarket, to the movies, to the spa, and he sends her tweets and Facebook messages all the time. I’m not a dating expert, but I can tell you that he won’t be dating her for long.

It’s the same thing. The more that you try to be part of my life, the more turned off I get. If I love a brand, I will find you, and I’ll be your biggest fan. So instead of trying to be all up in my shit why don’t you act confident (I’ve heard chicks dig it). Act like you believe in your product and its quality and maybe I’ll give you a chance.

Maybe I’m wrong and you are all going to quote examples of brands that are doing a great job in the social media space and you are going to tell me how social media is a great way to exercise “brand behavior” in a relevant space and you may be right, but the sad part is that we all know it’s not genuine. It’s another marketing effort to get my money and my attention.

I would much rather be the unforgettable guy who is confident, doesn’t care what others think and knows he has a great product (if you know what I mean) than the annoying, insecure guy who spends a little bit too much money on himself and follows his hot girlfriend everywhere to make himself feel better.

So how about we make a pact, brands of the world, stop trying to be someone you are not (my friend) and be who you are (a confident brand that believes in your product). I know you are there and if I don’t, I’m sure I’ll see you on TV or every time I open a magazine – just please stay away from my social network.

Armando Samuels is a wannabe photographer/pro fantasy football player/pro karaoke singer/film maker aspiring to be a native English speaker, in his spare time he’s an account guy at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles and a little bit of an Ad Junkie.

Next Great Posts labeled as Next Great are generally submissions by various contributors, whose information can be found within the text of the article. Next Great posts without author information are the collective effort of the editorial staff: Christine Peterson, Alex Pearlman and Edward Boches.

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26 Responses to “Hey Brands, Get Out Of My Social Media Grill”

  1. bobbyhennessey

    Hey Armando – well written article.

    I couldn't agree more that there are a lot of businesses getting in people's faces in SM – example: I jokingly tweeted to a friend about the fact that a swear jar from a desk I had to assemble would surpass my current retirement funds… moments later, my BB buzzed with an email that “retirementplans” (or something like that) was now following me. No, they are not right in my face about it – but that is a waste of their time.

    On the other hand, I think there are some brands that do a really good job with it. Another friend of mine recently had something shipped from USA to Canada valued at ~$250, and he got tagged with $100 brokerage (or something) charges from the shipping company – something he saw as incredibly unfair to charge a consumer to pick up something they already paid for with no warning of this. He tweeted his rage, using the shipping companies name and the hashtag #scam. He received a DM minutes later from the shipping company looking to speak offline and hoping they could cut the brokerage fees in half. That's service that a company like that can ONLY provide using social media and monitoring their brand mentions.

    You're right, there are some brands doing the engagement side of social media poorly, but I believe there are very few companies that cannot benefit from listening to what we're saying out there at the very least.

    Cheers Armando!


  2. Carol Phillips

    Armando: Great post, I think this explains why brands like Trader Joe's that have not entered the social media space are still popular with Gen Y. They are not acting like a lovesick suitor. Thanks for the enlightening read. I wrote something similar last spring, you may want to check this out: “Why Brands Make Poor Friends” http://bit.ly/cBXNxk

  3. Angela Stefano

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud at work. I could not agree more. While I do sometimes find new brands/websites to check out (read: shop from) via social media, I've had enough of the spam-y wall posts, messages and twitter followers that are advertising stuff I just don't need.

  4. esd714

    A well written, well presented piece. However: I would argue that its not that brands should not be on social media–they are using social media wrong.

    Posting money off for Aunt Jemimah syrup on my FB wall is not useful. However, engaging the way @comcastcares or the way @aairwaves does is breaking down the wall between brand and consumer–and thats a good thing.

  5. Kristin Dziadul

    I definitely agree with this article! I think social media works great for some companies, but not for others. Companies need to first examine if their target market is using social media, which sites, and how much ROI they can gain by being on these sites. Then, if it all makes sense, I would say great, be on social sites and interact with us. However, every company does not need to spend time and resources making themselves look more annoying to consumers who really don't care what you are doing every day at the office.

  6. Armando Samuels

    Thanks Bobby,
    I glad you enjoyed the read. I fully agree with you. I think lifestyle brands are the ones that are able to do interesting things in social media and have a bit of an edge. This is also a challenge to brands to figure out ways to connect with consumers out getting too annoying.

    Once again “Gracias” for your comment


  7. Armando Samuels

    Carol, I love your article! It's way better than mine! you made a great point “Millennials do want to connect with brands as long as the connections are genuine and of value” I fully agree with you i think Genuine is the key word.
    Love your post!

    Arrrmando (yes you have to roll your “R's”)

  8. Armando Samuels

    If It made you smile! I can call it “mission accomplished”. Honestly, I wrote it hoping that i could at least get a smile out of the people that read it. hopefully you are laughing with it and not at it :D (yes I just used a cheese smiley face don't judge me)

  9. Armando Samuels

    I think that using social media as a way to add to your consumer service platform is incredible and a really good idea. Like I said the percentages of brands that are using SM the right way its small. There are plenty of brands out there that just don't fit the SM world.


  10. Armando Samuels

    hehehe.. you said “ROI”
    Marketing terms make me dizzy.

    I actually think that the ROI is the only thing they look at. Social Media is free (or relatively cheap) so of course that the idea like of having a FB account sounds like a great investment.

  11. evanpowers

    The likening of overbearing brands to insecure, ugly boyfriends trying everything in the books to keep the girl was hysterical, and so true! Terrific article Armando, I'm with you; brands: give me my space!

  12. Christine

    Hahaha! Definitely an enjoyable read, Armando.

    I work in social media at Mullen and I have seen my fair share of companies doing an excellent job in social media and companies that are one big pile of fail.

    I do feel like I need to defend one point in your article though. It really bugs me when people assume marketers see everyone as little dollar signs. There are many brands that I genuinely love and I want you to love them too. A few of those brands I have the pleasure to represent. Does my love for the product immediately become irrelevant once I start accepting money to promote them?

  13. Armando Samuels

    No no at all. Thats just called “loving your job”. If you have the opportunity of working on a brand/product that you love it makes working on them extremely enjoyable.

    Personally, I think that for our generation, the power that you as an individual have to influence my opinion of a brand, is way bigger than the power that a tweet or a FB message, from a brand, can have. Why because it's genuine or at least feels genuine.
    You “accepting” money from for favorite brand, AKA getting payed, it doesn't make your love for that brand irrelevant, it just makes your Job Awesomeeer

  14. Justin Jones

    Armando, what up my brother! Congrats on getting I absolutely love this. The comparison to the insecure wussy guy is a spot on. And who doesn't want to be with the “Take it or leave it, I am quality, I believe in myself and you know I'm telling truth!” confident type. These “all up in my shit” (hilarious by the way) brands seem so desperate to jump on the hot trend; it makes them loose cool points with some of their core consumers. I think social media is great for a brand if they use it right. I think interaction and engagement is a good way to go in regard to SM. Consumers today aren’t passive…we want to be entertained and excited. Whether it’s through a send to a friend, contest, or sweepstakes etc.., some kind of call to action that connects and is relevant to their core users. But at the end of the day I believe it’s all about telling a good story. And I absolutely agree with you that SM can be used to enhance customer service or to gain insight, kind of like a cheap focus group. Anyway, b/c I could geek out on this stuff. I definitely laughed while reading this, so thanks for the good read. And when you’re back East gimme a holla.

    (PS: I’m still nice with my Spanish! Ha-ha)

    Look at those Temple boys go.


    Justin Jones

  15. Andreana Drencheva

    After all these comments, I don't have much to say. I do agree that most brands use social networks very poorly to engage with our generation and provide value. Years ago most brands weren't on Facebook and the few fan pages that existed were created by true fans. Then I become (I still do it sometimes) a fan of some of these brands because I loved them and thought it was a great way to support them. Now everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, which is OK if they know how to use these social networks. The important thing to connect with Gen Y is to provide value and utility by your social media presence. I am tired of brands that use status updates to tell me about their new shoes and how great they are and why I should buy these shoes, then post pictures of said shoes and tell me to by them. That is ridiculous and I just hide the updates from these brands. (I am still their fan because I think it shows who I am.) But there are other brands that provide real utility with their social media presence and they are the successful ones: IKEA, The New York Times, etc. And by real utility I don't mean only discounts and free tickets, although it is a good start. I mean something that would make my life easier.

  16. John McTigue

    I have to agree that the word “friend” really doesn't apply to social media much. Most of your “friends” on Twitter and LinkedIn, for example, are people you've never met. But I do think we all know the difference between real friends and brands online. As long as there's not too much spam, I can live with brands in the social media space. Full disclosure, I am in marketing, so I guess I'm a bit biased.

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