There is, of course, no law about words you can put together, but that doesn’t mean all combinations make sense.

Well, a recent poll (conducted in my brain) indicates that over 50% of marketing conferences this summer will include the phrase ‘social media marketing’.

A couple of excellent posts today teach us the need for a little caution with that particular combination.

Here, e-consultancy takes to pieces the ROI case study for Sea World’s ‘Journey to Atlantis’. Search marketing made everything very boringly mathematical for the traditionally innumerate marketing fraternity. It seems ‘social media marketing’ (see how easy it is to say the words), allows them to go back to their old tricks of ‘improving brand image’, and attracting ‘thousands’ of visitors. These marketing dollars, it seems, are not as accountable as they should be.


  • How did Forrester end up such zealots for everything social media?
  • Why do people refer to social media campaigns as ‘cheap’. The SeaWorld one in particular didn’t sound very cheap to me

A great follow up to that is John Dodds commenting on David Armano’s analysis of web 3.0 words. He goes on to dissemble some of Web 2.0’s finest.

As he witheringly points out of the three most tired and misused words of the last few years:

Conversation – we didn’t actually mean your customers wanted a chat. We meant they wanted companies to listen. They don’t want you to keep starting irrelevant conversations like a drunk on a bus. If you screw up, however, they will talk about it so try not to screw up, and try to listen rather than talk.

Community – this means they can gang up on you when you screw up, not that everyone wants to form a commune, hold hands and exchange daisy chains.

Relationship – but not the modern smug family in the BT adverts. We’re talking about  a one-sided one night stand, entirely on your customers’ terms. And they’ll go for another night of passion with you if and only if you’re still looking saucy in the morning.

Again, here are three words which are easy to bandy around and lots of ‘social media marketing’ consultants (see how easy it is!)  thought they understood. But when it comes to the complexity of how messages spread, it’s not as easy as all that.