[Update: just republishing to add live links at the end of this post to parts II and III.]
We may have a new pandemic to worry about: Blyopia.
Bly-opia: n. (comb. from Bly, as in Robert Bly, and myopia) 1. mental tunnel-vision thought to be caused by an idea virus that blocks the ability to see any value that cannot be both immediately measured and traced directly to one's own activity.
Okay, it's not really Bob's fault alone, but we've been reading his upcoming book, Blog Schmog: The Truth About What Blogs Can and Can't Do for Your Business, and his name fits together so well with my opinion of what's wrong with his thesis that I couldn't resist. So, apologies, Bob.
As you might guess from the main title and the icon on the cover, Bob has a lot of negative and precious little positive to say about blogs. The root of his problem is his inability to compare business blogging with anything other than his own field of writing copy for direct marketing campaigns. Hence Blyopia as the name for his disease.
And the disease appears to be spreading.
A Blyopia Pandemic?
It's been widely reported that John Stichweh, Director of Global Interactive Marketing at Coca-Cola, questioned the value of "engagement" with consumers at the recent NYC ad:tech conference in a session entitled, "Marketing Mashups: Navigating Consumer-Driven Marketing." Stichweh is quoted as expressing doubts about the value of Coke's adoption of the Eepybird video showing Diet Coke fountains from adding Mentos mints and inviting consumers to submit their own videos to Coke's Poetry in Motion Challenge:
"How many more cases
of Coke am I selling?
I don't know."
So Blyopia apparently infects those attempting to employ other social media in their businesses, not just blogs. Bob's thesis in his book is, basically, that a direct marketing campaign is better than a blog, because he can measure the results of his campaign and tell John "how many more cases of Coke" he sold.
What Bob and John are missing in that comparison is that it tries to equate the blog with the marketing pieces Bob creates. It tries to draw a straight line from the blog or the piece to a sale. But social networks hyperlinked with social media (blogs, video sharing, etc.) are more than straight lines. They are intricate, extended linkages.
From a marketing perspective, a social media message may result few or no sales to the first recipients and efforts to "measure" the ROI immediately may be disappointing. But that same message remains in the network and over time can grow legs, accumulate supporting messages (generated by consumers, not the marketer), and yes, generate sales later that simply cannot be traced in a straight line from Bob or John's message to the case of Coke.
Ego-deflating for the marketer? Perhaps. Good for the business? What do you think?
Lots more to say, so:
Blyopia (Part II) will explore what makes marketers susceptible to its narrow fixation on measurement and more about the pervasive business benefits of social media and "engagement."
Blyopia (Part III) will consider ways to immunize yourself and your business from Blyopia (cures are reportedly rare).