Ten Social Media 'Rules' Explored, Debated


Thanks to all the Emerson College students and everyone else who showed up last night at the Bordy Theater in Boston for the panel on social media. It's nice to see interest in what's going on in the space and its encouraging that people think it's important enough to talk about. Thanks to everyone who came up to speak with me after the panel (including you who loved the Boy Bootie story:-) ). And to all in Twitter Row, watch out. I'm following you now! @SarahHutton, @amyyen, @AmandaMooney, @pamelump, @MariaGarcia, @WillWheeler (sorry if I've missed anyone).

For those who weren't at the event, I was was joined by panelists Zahary Braiker, CEO of Refine + Focus; Todd Defren, founder of SHIFT Communications and Paul Gillen, author and founder of Paul Gillen Communications. We put forth ten blatantly over-dramatic statements about social media and then debated the merits of each. None of the panelists punched each other but we did cover many sides of the issues and that was a good thing for those in attendance and good for the further definition of social media.

The ten statements were:

1. An army of citizens can never duplicate the quality or reliability of a trusted newspaper or magazine.

2. Conventional marketing is irrelevant. You should move your budget and effort to social media marketing as quickly as possible.

3. Done right, a viral marketing campaign can actually achieve greater impact than a conventional mass media campaign.

4. Email will remain the most prevalent and reliable method of online communication for the foreseeable future.

5. No one has figured out a viable business model for social networks or online video.That will make these media unsustainable in the long term.

6.Social networks, blogs and discussion groups are mainly people bitching about companies
and products they don't like.

7. Some negativity is inevitable online. It's not a problem unless it makes the jump to
mainstream media.

8. The vast majority of customers aren't using any kind of social media. Don't let all the hype distract you. Focus most of your attention on traditional marketing.

9. Traditional media, especially local, cannot compete with new social networks.

10. You can't measure the return‐on‐investment of social media campaigns. Don't even try!

While there are obviously many shades of gray to these statements and much healthy debate surrounded each, my oversimplified answers were:

1. False
2. False
3. True
4. False
5. True
6. False
7. True to the first part. False to the second part
8. Tough on but true. True. False
9. False
10. False

What would your answers be?

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Thanks, Steve! It was great to meet you last night. Loved the forum, it was really good to see a social media discussion actually done as a conversation instead of a lecture. :)

Just a tiny correction, my Twitter is actually @amyyen. :)

Thanks again & looking forward to seeing you out in the Twitterverse!

Posted by: Amy Yen on April 3, 2008 9:34 AM

The panel was definitely beneficial for all in attendance and really enhanced my personal knowledge of the evolving social media world. I very much enjoyed that it was not a "101 on Social Media" as other forums I have seen tend to be. The panel really spoke to the audience of internet natives and addressed key issues for up and coming marketers. I think every panelist brought up very good points and were in agreement overall regarding most of the statements. I applaud the panel & Paul Gillin as moderator, for being able to effectively engage the audience of undergrad, grad, faculty and staff. Steve, Zach, Todd & Paul really raised the bar for all future Emerson events!

Posted by: Sarah Hutton on April 3, 2008 9:42 AM

Well wow. Thanks Sarah! I'm glad we could help elevate the excellence of future events:-)

Posted by: Steve Hall on April 3, 2008 10:17 AM

Steve you forgot me! But hey, no worries I just wanted to thank you for a really insightful discussion last night. It was by far the best forum we've had involving the Marketing Department in a long time.

Above all, thanks for continuing to be brutally honest. I'm glad someone agrees that MySpace is an ugly piece of sh*t website too!

Take care!


Posted by: Will Wheeler on April 3, 2008 10:24 AM

Ooops. I'll add you, Will. And no need for the "*" You can fucking swear as much as you want to on this motherfucking, shitty ass website that sucks the cock of the ad industry on a daily basis:-)

Posted by: Steve Hall on April 3, 2008 10:40 AM

As a recent Emerson grad this makes me smile. I'm sad I missed this!

Posted by: Street Attck on April 3, 2008 10:42 AM

I had such a great time at the event last night. You, Zach, Paul and Todd are social media rock stars. It was exciting to see a panel that threw out ppt. slides and just turned the event into a really great two-way dialog (or three-way if you count the Twitterverse that jumped into the conversation:))

Thank you being so cool and reminding me and my classmates why it's such an exciting time to be working in and studying communications.

Posted by: Amanda Mooney on April 3, 2008 10:51 AM

Thanks for the shout out, Steve! I really enjoyed monitoring the forum via the live-tweeting of @AmandaMooney, @SarahHutton, @amyyen and @skalik. Wish I could've been there IRL - already enjoy following you on Twitter!

Posted by: Pamela Seiple on April 3, 2008 11:17 AM

A great post and a great idea for an event. One of the issues that doesn't get explored fully enough (anywhere) is how new media campaigns are sustained. True a successful viral can have way more impact than a conventional TV ad, but it's still a one-off. Check out the post below, I guarantee you two things: it will appeal to your warped sensibility and it's a fucking great idea.


Posted by: Simon Billing on April 3, 2008 12:55 PM

#4 is TRUE!

Posted by: Ben Randolph on April 3, 2008 1:28 PM

Thanks for an awesome and rousing discussion last night. Also thanks for seeing me in the very back even though by the time my comment came around it wasn't the most relevant but oh well. In related news...you mentioned interns? Let me say no one loves working for free more than me. haha.

Posted by: Jessica Roubadeaux on April 3, 2008 7:38 PM

Steve - Agreed - that was a good time the other night. It was nice meeting/debating/laughing with you - all the more remarkable given that we mustered a mere 7 seconds' worth of handshakes & hi's beforehand.

I'm @tdefren on Twitter, and I gunk up the works at my own motherfucking shitty-ass PR blog at www.pr-squared.com. Hope to see ya out there.

Posted by: Todd Defren on April 4, 2008 6:25 AM