Screen shot 2010-10-25 at 10.15.59 AM A few weeks back, I posted a slightly controversial post on Ad Age, talking about why I believe ad agencies should own social media. I knew the post would cause a rucus and it did...mostly around two areas. First, the idea of "ownership" drove a number of comments and response posts -- and a great amount of really good conversation. Second, was a number of folks took the post to task and in response posts on their own blogs proceeded to talk about how my post indicated a certain lack of social media knowledge on my part. Now, that in and of itself is fine. We all have opinions but what got me a bit fired up was the lack of any factual support for their position. It was, as is so often the fact, a post in which they said something (opinion) and thus because they were a self-appointed social media expert, it must be true. So over the next few posts, allow me to one-by-one show with supporting evidence why I think these social media experts may not be such experts.

By and far the number one dispute was around this passage:

Think about it. So much of what you see in social media is the creation of stories, content, photos, videos, information and entertainment. Now I'm not tossing aside the customer-engagement aspect of social media -- that is and will always be the heart and power of the channel. 

The common response post indicated that my "content driven" thoughts showed that I, like ad agencies, didn't get this brave new world called social media. It showed I didn't get that social media is all about conversations.

Newsflash: Social Media isn't all about conversations...especially when your context for the discssion is brand to consumer social media. But don't take my word for it... here are recent comments from well regarded social media consultants.

Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) in his BlogWorld 2010 Keynote

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Jason Falls (@JasonFalls) talks about the social media value of sharing great content on his blog and he also shared this tidbit at his CoastalSocial presentation:

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and lastly, probably one of the most well respected names in social media, Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) talks about Why Sharing [content] Matters on his blog.

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I could go on, but I'll stop. The simple fact is that long-term success in the social space is about more than just being a great conversationalist. Especially when you're looking at this from a brand perspective. According to numerous research studies, consumers choose to follow, fan and like brands in the social space primarily to get insider deals and to be exposed to cool content. If engagement or conversation is even mentioned, it's very far down the list.

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All of this to say, I get that it's very social media politically correct to focus on the conversation side of social media. To hold that up high, place it on a mantel and bow to it as the end all, game changing opportunity of social media. But if you fall prey to that kind of thinking, if you insist on bending to that puritan view of social media, I'm afraid you'll miss a huge marketing opportunity called Content Marketing.

But enough about what I think... what do you think?