For Decades, Brands Lied, Exaggerated, Omitted Facts and Glossed Over Defects, but Social Media Changed the Balance of Power

AdAge has been beating up on social media lately. Matt Creamer wrote last week that popularity doesn’t lead to influence or sales. In the current issue, Rance Crain writes that “advertisers don’t even know what the primary purpose of social media is supposed to be.” Sorry, but that train — and that protest — left the station a long time ago.

Creamer and Crain are right about two things: First, Creamer: “Social media … threatens to warp our understanding of influence”; and second, Crain: “It’s a jungle out there, and advertisers aren’t even sure what the latest entries are supposed to do for them.”

Before I defend social media, a question: Has advertising alone led you to buy a big-ticket item, like a car or a flat-screen TV or a camera in the past five years? Or did you read online reviews, ask friends for their experience and opinions, and then go see what the company had to say about itself on its website? Just wondering…

What’s social media supposed to do for companies?

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