Beware touting social media as panacea to all marketing problems

Like it or not, the bulk of what we get on social media is people's carefully photoshopped and calibrated attempts at validating their narcissism, their pursuit of cool hobbies and activities, and their "It's all about me" struggles at work/life/play.

All of this is, in turn, broken up by rare moments of authenticity, such as clips of a natural disaster or inconsiderate, boorish behaviour.

In this landscape, many businesses face an uphill battle in managing their brands, products and services, often getting poor advice from their marketing or public relations consultants.

The recent Instagram post by popular actress Rebecca Lim for NTUC Income is a case in point ("Insurer expresses regret over 'retirement' stunt"; Feb 16).

Junior communications executives who live online are only too eager to tout social media as the answer to all marketing problems.

And senior management who do not know better will fall for buzzwords such as "influencers", "content", "conversation", "viral", and so on.

A big perpetrator of this "social media at all cost" mantra seems to be government agencies, which appear to be creating campaigns and TV commercials in the hope that these will be shared on social media platforms.

For instance, a Teresa Teng-inspired commercial about love has a tenuous connection to MediShield Life. I hope the authorities will not believe that "views", "likes" and "shares" will disarm people into not asking hard questions about the Central Provident Fund in general.

Much of social media is fraud at play, with no rules. And there is only one eventual winner: the owners of the social media platforms.

Yet, will brands watch and learn? I doubt so.

Anand A. Vathiyar