Social Media, Meet Branded Content

The meeting was in a banquet hall of Palo Alto hotel. It was billed as a meeting of the social media minds, as a few dozen social media experts and their corporate counterparts gathered together to loosely architect the future of social media. It was hard not to sense the irony. On one side, you had the pioneers of the social web – the once pure bloggers – the same bloggers that feverishly attacked any brand involvement in their formerly gated community. On the other side, representatives from big brands, each with newly minted business cards with social or community in their newly minted titles.

The day was filled with panels, break out sessions, and even the occasional clever presentation with funny consumer generated videos and Hugh McLeod drawings. Really smart people sharing words like ‘emotional connections’, ‘two-way conversation’, and ‘engaging and immersive experiences’ all in the context of how brands should leverage the social web. Traditional advertising – unfairly not represented at the meeting – was a four letter word and the butt of most jokes.

Yes, social media exploded on to the scene and the momentum remains strong. Technology is enabling people to connect in amazing ways. Blah, blah, blah. We read this everyday. We know this. We embrace and champion this. But what most of us marketing dogs seem to have forgotten or don’t want to say to the eager-to-spend clients, is that the vast majority of people, especially young people, don’t want Mr. PC Manufacturer as a friend.

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