the antisocial network

The Antisocial Network
Brands are flocking to Facebook in greater herds than ever before. Facebook has become an integral tick box on just about every marketing plan.

Yet setting up a Facebook page alone won’t suddenly make a brand more social. The question for a brand to ask is not whether to use social media. The question to ask is how to make your brand more engaging. An antisocial brand using social media is still an antisocial brand.

After drawing “how brands talk” a few weeks ago about the self-promotional way that many brands talk with consumers, I’ve been thinking about where these brands talk to consumers. Many brands use social media to talk at consumers the same way they talk at consumers everywhere. They blab about their benefits, products, and services.

Yet there is no captive audience in media nowadays, particularly online. Brands should think less about transactions and more about relationships.

Think about the Nike Livestrong/Chalkbot campaign, which deservedly won the digital grand prix at Cannes a few months ago. Nike sponsored a computerized road painting machine that “chalked” inspirational messages along the Tour de France. People submitted 36,000 messages through social media. Each message was printed on the section of the course, photographed, tagged with GPS coordinates and emailed to the person who submitted it.

What made this campaign social was not that it used social media tools. It was about the cause, not the shoes. It’s not where brands communicate. It’s how brands communicate.



  1. cinzia from Stile Mediterraneo Italy says:

    Tom! this is such a useful post! It really gives me so many ideas on how to make my brand more engaging! thank you so much!

  2. [...] I read a very interesting post by Tom Fishburne entitled the antisocial network. Illustrated in his cartoon about Facebook and explained in his post was the observation that there [...]

  3. Dennis Van Staalduinen says:

    Nail: successfully hit directly on the head.

    The only thing you missed were the multiple exclamation marks after ME!!!!

  4. Glynis says:

    Have you been spying on me Tom? Perfect timing for this article! Thanks.

  5. Careful says:

    Another thing to consider regarding the “anti”social aspect of 2.0 – and Facebook in particular – is that one has to be a member to be privy to this kind of corporate marketing. There’s a very strong need for humans to “belong.”

    However, I know more who are aophisticated online users and consumers that will not compromise their privacy to join Facebook and, as such, are left out.

    Have businesses recognized this? How is it proposed that they close this gap to reach the type of online-savvy consumer that thinks Facebook is a crock?

  6. Lisa Devaney says:

    It is the case that if a brand can’t figure out how to tip the level of engagement in social media conversations, the medium just becomes another billboard broadcast network. Good example Chalkbot did just this, and another case study is how Skittles approached the social media world:

  7. Markus Hübner says:

    Amazing work again, Tom! Keep up the great work.

  8. [...] case of Nike illustrates how to go beyond setting up an infrastructure on a social media platform and engage [...]

  9. Vaishali says:

    Great stuff! Very often, the medium (‘Social’ media being the most exciting right now) becomes more important than ideas, but restricts the length to which an idea can grow I agree that ideas need to be the centre of all consumer engagement and medium the means of reaching it to the consumers. Media in itself cannot be confused with Ideas

  10. Alexandra Dyer says:

    Very cool article, and the image says a thousand or more words. One thing I would add is that with the many books written on social media these days (and I do mean many), you have to make sure you sure you don’t lose the basic premise of social media marketing, which is to connect to people on their level.

  11. [...] social network, many consumers are tiring with how brands are reaching them on the current ones. An antisocial brand that uses social media is still an antisocial brand. A content strategy must come before a social [...]

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