BizJournals Social Madness is Madness

VengresoStrategy & Leadership BizJournals Social Madness is Madness

BizJournals Social Madness is Madness

Social Madness is a Throwback to 2007

On June 1st, BizJournal in cooperation with Spark Business from Capital One launched a national competition called Social Madness. The name is perfect because it is madness. The competition is held in 43 local metro markets. The idea is for local businesses to promote their social media accounts to get the most votes, fans and followers during June 1st and June 18th, eventually with the competition culminating in three national winners on September 11th.

5 Reasons Social Madness is MADNESS

To be clear, I think this is madness. There is nothing I like about this contest. The essence of the competition is to score the popularity of local businesses according to votes as well as growth in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn followers. In other words, the local businesses that do the best at asking their customers to vote for them and plug their social media channels to grow their following stand the best chance to win.

Relevancy Doesn’t Matter

If a local plumber you’ve never used asks you to follow them on their social media accounts, will you do it to help them win? There is no relevance if you’ve never used that plumber. If a local CPA firm asks you to follow them, and your company doesn’t use this firm, will you follow them to help them win? If any local business promotes their social media accounts to me, I would not follow them to help them win if they are not relevant to me and my interests. In fact, I will have a negative impression of a business that asks me to vote for them just to help them win votes in the Social Madness Challenge.

Engagement Doesn’t Matter

As far I can determine from their explanation of the rules, their proprietary algorithm doesn’t factor engagement. If it does, it’s not obvious. Here’s the explanation of how they will count votes and determine finalists.

Social Madness Promotes short term thinking

Reports such as the 2012 Social Media Marketing Report from Social Media Examiner illustrate that one third of businesses using social media devote 11 or more hours per week and have been using social media for 3 years or more. Social Madness is a competition that promotes a very short term window to grow your social media presence just to win the contest. This short term mindset sets a bad example. As a consumer, if I follow a business whose primary interest in me on social media is getting my vote to win a competition, how loyal do you think I’ll be toward that business in social media or as a consumer?

2012 Social Media Marketing Report via Social Media Examiner

Social Madness Winners Prove Nothing

Even though BizJournals is segmenting the competition according to size of business in attempt to level the competitive playing field, what will it prove to win the competition? Social media marketing is about building a loyal community and engaging with them about the things that matter to your community. The Social Madness challenge feels like a weight-loss contest with no regard for long term sustained benefits or promotion of strategic planning that can help a business over the long run.

Social Madness Promotes Worse Practices

Social Madness is spread across 43 metro markets. Each local BizJournal publication has been writing about the competition to spread the word. One such article by Roger Hughlett from the Washington Business Journal wrote a story titled 6 Reasons to Enter Social Madness. His list includes:

1) Formalize your social media outreach

Really? Where’s the strategy? This contest is all about winning a popularity contest. That’s not a social media marketing strategy!

2) Impress our readers

If that’s important to a local business, that’s a legitimate reason to enter. But, it sounds more like self promotion to the local Business Journal than a benefit to local businesses.

3) Represent your local city

If your business is local only to your metro area, being one of the finalists in this contest in your local market can be a nice promotional perk.

4) Gain national exposure

If you win the local round between June 1st and June 18th you’ll be written up with national exposure as the challenge progresses to the next round. That’s cool. But, if your business doesn’t have a long term social media marketing strategy, this is a short term win. And, if the winners don’t continue to build and engage a loyal social media following they’ll do more damage to their brand reputation than help it.

5) Reach new audiences

Maybe, but if you get votes from irrelevant audience just for the contest, there is no long term value in that.

6) Bragging rights

Give me a break…Business is not a sport. Consumers are smart. They care little if any about your bragging rights if you win this contest. When I pick up my shirts at the local dry cleaners, the fact they won this contest means nothing if they don’t do the little things to deliver a quality service to win my loyalty offline and online.

We Can Do Better Than This

The reason I state at the top of this post that Social Madness is a throwback to 2007 is because back in the early days of social media marketing, the early adopters in the business community had a “grow your fans and followers” mindset. At the time, it was understandable. It was the early days of social marketing. Those brave businesses just starting to use social media didn’t know any better. It was a “figure it out as we go” time. Over the next couple of years, the brands that enjoyed the most success with social media marketing figured out that building a loyal community with engaging and relevant content, minimal selling and maximum authentic engagement with your community about issues they care about is the secret sauce to successful social media marketing. Frankly, a contest that promotes a 5 year old mindset is very disappointing. At best it’s outdated thinking. At worst, it’s an insult to the intelligence of the consumer.

BizJournals should know better than this. And, the folks at Capital One should also know better. This contest is indeed social madness in every sense. There is however, one thing I like about this competition. The $7,500 prize to the three final winners will be awarded as a donation to the winner’s charity of choice. So, there is a silver lining in this social madness competition. Share your thoughts below…

Bernie Borges

Bernie Borges is CMO of Vengreso, the leader in digital sales transformation. He's also Host of the award winning Modern Marketing Engine podcast. His book Marketing 2.0, was an early playbook in social media strategy. Bernie is also a trainer and speaker. He has a passion for guiding clients in aligning marketing and sales for accelerated revenue results. Bernie enjoys kayaking with his family in Tampa Bay, going to hockey games and you'll find him at the gym at 6am Monday through Friday, rain or shine.

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