Social Media is as Worthless as the Telephone

by · March 15, 201318 comments

Welcome one and all to the world premiere of the Theater of the Absurd, the soon-to-be-infamous TOTA. Please take your seats.

We’re very excited to bring you our first program, “Social Media is as Worthless as the Telephone.” We had the privilege (the playwright asked us to say that) to discuss the inspiration for this script with Barry, who is known not for his contributions to modern theater, but for writing marketing communications, websites,  blog posts, and various forms of online content. Whether it was passion, frustration or simply one too many espressos, Mr. Feldman was extremely animated when he explained the genesis of his one-act play came from having read close to 1,000,000 articles about C-level executives’ disregard for social media.

Many continue deeming social media as trivial. A shocking population of executives, business owners, and even marketing professionals maintain a cavalier attitude standing adamantly by the position social media has low or no value for marketing and sales. All too often, even those that have plugged into Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and the like, are prone to pull the proverbial plug in the early stages. They cite minuscule ROI. They deny a 140-character quip will ever get the cash register to ring. And, of course, they continuously attach social media to the prepubescents demographic who lack any real spending power. Some would actually LOL if: (1) they knew what the common text abbreviation meant and (2) you were to tell them social media is how people engage with one another today.

Our story takes place in the chief executive’s office at a business enterprise. Please silence your mobile phones 

John
Have a seat Marty. It’s good to see you. Would you like a scotch?

Marty
Scotch sir? It’s 9 o’clock in the morning.

John
Right, right. It is early. Just want you to be comfortable. Would you prefer a beer?

Marty
If it’s okay with you sir, coffee would be just great.

John
Suit yourself buckwheat. And please, call me John.

Marty
Yes sir. Er, Mr. President.

John
John. Call me John.

Marty
Yes, yes, John.

John
So what have you got for me Marty? Connie mentioned you sent me a memo. I never get to the damn things, but she said you wanted to show me something you thought would be useful for the business. Is that right?

Marty
Yes sssssrrrr—yes, John. Let me get right to it. I know you’re busy.
(Reaches into his case and sets his device on the president’s desk.)
This is it. It’s called a telephone.

John
I’m listening.

Marty
Great. Well John, the telephone is really ingenious. With it, you can communicate with people, anybody, any where. They don’t need to be in the same room. Each user has a number, so you simply press the buttons and if they’re there, they pick up this part, the handset, and you can hear each other talk.

John
Well I’ll be damned. That’s very clever. What will they think of next?

Marty
Only time will tell. I suspect there could come a time when you might be able to record the conversations, speak with more than one person at a time. You never know. Maybe someday a pocket-sized version will allow you to take it with you.

John
Pocket-sized!? Why that’s very funny Marty. Maybe someday it’ll give you directions to a nearby bar. No, I got it: you’ll be able to watch football games with the damn thing.
(John laughs his ass off. Marty shrinks.)
So tell me son, how would this help us grow the business? It seems like a distraction to me. I would think you’d use the thing, uh, what did you say it was called?

Marty
It’s called a telephone.

John
Right, right, right. Catchy name. So what I was saying is if you had one of these telephone machines, you might talk to your friends, your family… You know what I mean son? How would you get any work done?

Marty
Great question Marty. My theory is while it’s true you could talk on the telephone with your friends, here at Innovation Global Enterprises, we could use it to talk to our customers and our partners. We could build relationships.

John
I think your heart’s in the right place John, but I guess I’m the president of this taco stand for a reason. We don’t want to build relationships. We have a business to run. Priorities. You understand.

Marty
Excellent point sir, but if you don’t mind me saying so, I think if we built relationships by having conversations with people and sharing ideas, we would in turn, build our business. The people we spoke to might even call their friends and tell them about what we make.

John
I like you John. You might be a little green and naïve in the ways of business, but you dream big. Those are some interesting ideas you have about communications, even if they are a little, er, how should I say…? Whacked.

Marty
Sir, I think I might have that beer now.

John
That’s my boy. Here you go. Try this one. They call it “Lite.” Seems to weigh just as much as any other 12-ounce can, but they say it tastes great and it’s less filling.

Marty
Thank you sir, John. So could I ask you to consider what I’ve said here today?

John
I must have missed something. Tell me again why we’d want our people using this fancy machine to talk to customers?

Marty
Lots of reasons. They might have questions we can answer for them. If they were having problems with the products, we could tell them how to solve them.

John
You want the company to answer questions and solve our customers’ problems? We have products to make and we must sell them. I’m not running a charity here son.

Marty
Yes, sir, but I was thinking if we could be the company people trusted as a resource for information and advice, they might buy even more of our products.

John
It’s a very nice thought Marty. It’s admirable how you young ‘uns like to embrace all the abstract ideas about community and love and all that touchy, feely shit. It really is. Will there be anything else John? I have the advertising agency coming in very soon. They said they wanted to talk about some box that has channels people can turn on to watch people talk and tell jokes.

Marty
Right, right. They’re probably talking about the television.

John
Television! Right! I think that was it. Telephone. Television. I don’t know how anybody can keep up with all these tele-things.

Marty
Well, things do tend to change very fast in media. People want to share their experiences.
(Marty gets up to leave.)
I’ll get out of your hair now sir.

John
Marty, I’m a fair guy. And you know, I wouldn’t have got to where I am today if I wasn’t open to new things and new ideas. You kids coming out of college sure have a lot of them. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to think about this telephone device. I might even buy one for the office.

Marty
You may like it.

John
No, no. I’m too old to be screwing around with fancy technology. But maybe someone here could use it to talk on. They could call up people that don’t buy our products, maybe at dinner time when everyone’s home and tell them when we’re having a sale and that sort of thing. I want you to do something for me Marty. Play around with that one you have and bring me a report. I’d like to see some documented evidence that this sort of thing has a return on investment. I call it ROI. Get it? ROI. It’s an abbreviation for return on investment.

Marty
Good one sir. And thank you for the beer. It really was very light.

John
Damn straight my boy. Some brewery came up with some fancy way to take out a lot of the calories. Just goes to show you son, you can’t put the brakes on innovation.

THE END

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About Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman creates compelling content by telling stories. He's a freelance copywriter, creative director, content marketing consultant, and an alright guy. He specializes in persuasion and engagement and has authored the eBooks "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website" and "The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing" to help improve your online marketing. If you would like a piece of his mind, visit Feldman Creative and his blog,  The Point.

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  • http://paradisesocial.wordpress.com/ Mike Poynton

    Genious! I loved it. It was better than “Cats”! Seriously. It’s just a matter of time. In 2000 I was a consultant for an municipal authority and was in charge of rolling out a web-based project management system (document management and business process workflow) for owners, developers, architects, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers for $2.3 billion in construction projects over 5 years. No one in the agency even had an email address so they could login to the system. Broadband was not yet a ubiquitous commodity. There was much, much resistance. But at the end of the 5 years we had trained over 1100 users from 90 different companies on how to use the system. After that, the authority couldn’t imagine doing business without it. Key to our success: Showing ROI. Social marketing is no different.

    • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

      Love the feedback Mike. Thanks. Gotta’ say though… isn’t everything better than “Cats?”

      • http://twitter.com/dougkessler dougkessler

        Starlight Express isn’t better than Cats.
        This post is better than both.

        • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

          Funny Doug. I saw Cats in London. Helped me catch up on my sleep. Starlight Express must be dreadful. Best to stick with “Mama Mia,” I guess.

  • http://becomemade.net/ DavidCrowell

    and to think I have been reading so much into Social Media lately :(

  • http://twitter.com/cnina86 Marine

    Nice and imaginative post. Sometimes there’s a bit of an overdose of the social media though.

  • http://twitter.com/jquinlivan Jim Quinlivan

    Well, this ain’t Beckett or Genet, but then today’s absurdity is a wee bit watered down. Clever and funny, Barry. Look forward to more.

    • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

      I was going for more of John Cleese type of thing ;-)

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  • http://www.boom-online.co.uk/ Amy Fowler

    I love this! I’m going to have to add it to Boom’s best posts read this month round up: http://www.boom-online.co.uk/what-boom-have-been-reading-april-2013-edition/ That’s two from you Barry :-)

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  • http://www.placester.com/ Seth Price

    Barry, awesome, love the story and cant wait to read more

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