Friday, May 8, 2009

Sometimes during the dead of winter the weather will turn temporarily, uncharacteristically, eerily warm. The transient Ladies' Mantle that squats in the garden will, with great victorious hope, emerge from the layer of fallen pine needles and present itself as the Harbinger of Spring.

The unanticipated appearance of the Ladies' Mantle makes me both happy and sad; happy to see new green life in the midst of the shriveled brown detritus that was last summer's garden; sad because her victory is not so much a victory as an act of defiance. Alone among the sleeping promises of spring, she awakes, as if to say, "I will never be defeated."

Now that it really is spring and raining as if Pennsylvania is the Pacific Northwest - the Ladies' Mantle is nowhere to be found. Perhaps she has moved on to a more sheltered garden. The Meadow Tea, however, which in years past has been scant, has taken over every molecule of spare soil. The Meadow Tea we once coveted and consoled has become a common weed! It doesn't even smell minty.

The Meadow Tea and The Ladies' Mantle sort of remind me of Social Media. First there was MySpace. What a great good time that was. I particularly enjoyed the blogging feature. You could keep an ersatz journal and share it with people - lots of people. You could potentially make hundreds of "friends" with a great "journal" alone.

All of the "social" people I know were on MySpace. It was the virtual place to be. You could hardly be considered cool without it. I'd sneak a peak at work, just to make certain I wasn't missing anything.

Whither MySpace? For me, it kind of cannibalized itself. You know how it gets with too many cooks in the kitchen - or too many people trying to dominate the conversation. Arguments and petty differences arise that OFTEN escalate into full blown wars. I deleted my account and never looked back.

With the advent of pay-per-click advertising came the concomitant marketing peep show ( I mean insight) that web 2.0, 3.0, social networking - were the brand tool waves of the future.

I tried to dip a toe into Facebook in the interest of a client. Within 20 minutes I was soaked from head to toe! I was leapt upon immediately by kids I went to elementary school with. It was, I must admit, crazy exhilarating. There is no blogging feature though. I like to write. It's just as well, sometimes inner thoughts should be kept just where they are.

The defiant yet victorious Ladies' Mantle of MySpace has become the pernicious Meadow Tea of Facebook, Twitter, Digg,, LinkedIn and all the other ones I can't think of. Now instead of asking ourselves, as an agency, IF we should embrace social networking - we ask ourselves which platforms are a good fit for us, which are a good fit for our clients.

I don't think advertising has gone through so many changes in such a short time span as it has within the past ten years. I have been in advertising in a financial role for nine years; with the advent of social networking I had to embrace the digital, data driven culture, as well as integrate its many components, into our agency "line up".... and keep them all organized and effective. Well, I don't know if any agency or brand really knows how these tools are effective - but we all know that they are necessary.

It is my opinion that, as with the Meadow Tea, some of these platforms will take over the lilies and the roses; they will not smell minty - so we can't even make tea. They'll need to be pulled out so that the victorious Ladies' Mantle can emerge in the uncharacteristic cold and then into its proper place in the full springtime of advertising 21st Century Style.

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