A DE-vangelist In The Chapel of Outrage

28 08 2008

UPDATE 9/3/08: Added an interview with Chris Brogan, so we can hear the other side of this debate.

UPDATE 8/28/08: Clearly, this post about @amandachapel hit a nerve. My blog traffic is insane today. If we can get the level of rigor about Social Media to match the level of passion about Social Media there’s real hope. For people who are scandalized by @amandachapel, I’ll offer this piece of advice from Mae West: “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”


Twitter is a gathering place for a lot of interesting people.

Among the most interesting is an acid-tongued critic of Social Media evangelists who goes by the pen name @amandachapel. The photo here certainly isn’t “her”. And if you believe this bio (“I am 5′ 4″ tall, athletic, Pantene shoulder-length black hair, perfect perky boobs.”) I have a fantastic bridge I’d like to sell you.

At first I confess I dismissed @amanda as just a troll with a better-than-average sense of humor.

But, then something happened. The questions got tougher and more pointed. Many were very basic and jugular. The replies got angrier, but — even from some obviously smart people — they didn’t get more substantive.

I’ve come around to the POV that @amandachapel is exactly the sort of “DE-vangelist” that marketers should listen to closely before investing time and effort in a social media program.

In fact, the venom @amanda is spewing may be exactly the tonic Social Media needs if it hopes to grow.

For the record, I’m curious about SM and think it may have some smart applications. I’m not against Social Media. I’m against doing it (or anything else) blindly, just because it’s “hot”.

Below is an exclusive email interview given by @amandachapel with iCPG. So, let’s get to it.


@tjcnyc: You’re one of the few voices on Twitter that actively questions the value of social media programs. What made you decide to do this?

@amandachapel: I am motivated by outrage! The movement is 99% hype, and bad hype at that!

Regrettably, social media was/is about wildly questionable empowerment first. It gave/gives any knucklehead with a computer and web access an instant global stage and the ability to flood business communications with bogus opinion and faux credentials.

In the face of that wave, a few of us (from Strumpette.com) gave voice to reason. Variously, some of us continue to repeat some pretty basic questions: What am I using the tool for? How much does it cost? What do I expect in return? What are the risks and potential downsides? Is it ethical and aligned with the greater good of my marketplace long term?

Bottom line: I think we’ve been successful. We’ve made a difference. Even the movement is now scrambling for real business cases and rationale.

@tjcnyc: How would you define Social Media?

@amandachapel: Social media is the widely-celebrated fad that has elevated idle chitchat to quasi religion. It is the abandonment of commonsense business that was once ruled by presentation and meritocracy. It is a stage for a cult of amateurs empowered to act out Lord of the Flies. It is the great Cluetrain wreck.

@tjcnyc: Some people find your comments very combative and personal in nature. Are you actually angry, or is this Amanda Chapel persona something you have adopted for entertainment value?

@amandachapel: Couple things: I am absolutely aggressive and competitive. So is business. I play hard. I play to win. With regard to being personal, I do heckle now and again. It’s strategic. It takes opponents out of their game. I admit that also makes the game kinda fun.

That said, most importantly, I go after issues. It just so happens that underneath those issues, especially in social media, there is always a huckster whistling on his/her way to the bank. At Strumpette.com, we considered that collateral damage.

@tjcnyc: You seem to have put some fairly well-known Social media people squarely in your crosshairs. Who do you tend to target, and why?

@amandachapel: I target the “A-Listers.” To a person they are evangelists each with an agenda. Not coincidentally, the faux gospel they preach is also the snake oil they sell.

@tjcnyc: What value, if any, do you assign to social media? Is there anyone who’s doing it well today?

@amandachapel: Value is mostly TBD. Funny, a number of evangelists have now bastardized ROI to be Return on Interaction. Subsequently, I coined ROP, i.e. Return on Prayer. That’s far more accurate.

With that in mind, let’s put this all in perspective. The technology is inevitable. Sure some could argue that there have been technologies that humans ultimately decided they couldn’t manage. I think we will learn to harness social media.

But the only way to do that is to first understand the model and how it behaves. It’s not a 2-dimensional channel. It’s not a hyper telephone. It is a platform that essentially hyperlinks “like minds” to form instant virtual churches. Its power is based on the human attraction to codependency. Its byproducts include the safety and luxury of favoritism, as well as the abject human thrill of being able to freely express bigotry.

Fundamentally, these groups behave predictably: they like to trespass; they like to circumvent authoritative decision making; they also like to circumvent the idea of a meritocracy.

What’s troubling is that contradicts what our system is based on. Having just witnessed the French Revolution, the authors of our Constitution were terrified of this very kind of populism and tyranny of the mass.

So… the question is: does a company or organization have a role in that system and if so where?

That said, there are few people I’ve met along the way that I think understand and can answer that. I highly recommend Joel Postman, Jen Evans, and Lori Laurent Smith.

@tjcnyc: If you had a marketer friend who was actively considering a Social Media program, what are the five things you’d warn them about?


  1. Beware of social media cancers. Know that by participating in social media you invariably expose yourself to and empower the virulent haters of your company or organization;
  2. Beware of the demagogues. People and competitors are just waiting for you to make a move for them to leverage;
  3. Beware of the SEC. Talk to an expert in SEC law to understand the long-term implications of “open communications;”
  4. Beware of market pressure to relinquish control of your brand. Once it’s gone, you ain’t getting it back;
  5. Beware of hucksters. I’d warn them about ROP (see above). You can and should predetermine precisely your expected real Return on Investment.

@tjcnyc: What’s the story with the panty-flash Twitter icon?

@amandachapel: It’s the leftover artwork from an ad we were going to do for a line of merchandise, Strumpette Couture. In the context of Twitter, it is a subtle protest to “Naked Conversations.” We thought it demonstrated the power and importance of “seduction”.


I’m hoping this will spark some good conversation. What’s your opinion?

If you’re a social media true believer, can you offer data that explains your passion? I’m hungry for more than anecdotal stories, and for programs that influenced millions rather than hundreds of people.

If you’re a social media non-believer, do you think @amandachapel’s “politics of outrage” approach works?

All comments are welcome. After all, this IS social media :-)



41 responses

28 08 2008

This was the most rational I’ve heard from the AmandaChapel Construct.

I still think she needs to read Peter Drucker however. And while the AC Construct makes some good arguments (i.e. ROP) none of the “A-List” have ever proclaimed themselves to be The Authority – they’ve ALL said “hey, we’re all trying to figure this out…come help us” and that’s what SMedia is all about.

Never has humanity had the ability to converse, opinionate, love, share, hate and obfuscate like what SMedia enables. Sure it’s going to be crazy sometimes, but that’s what democracy and freedom of speech is about.

While the AC Construct makes some good points, others and myself don’t agree with all it has to say – that’s the beauty of this new medium, and it’s good. Unfortunately the viciously personal attacks and profanity do more harm to the Construct than good…for trying to be “professional” this is lost. Swearing is a sign of ignorance and a small vocabulary…just my opinion. I also suspect the AC Construct actually helps the A-List by calling them out rather than hurting them.

28 08 2008
Keith Burtis

As an artist I do not need to motivate millions of people. I need to motivate hundreds, maybe a few thousand. For me social media has been a way that I have been able to let people know about my work. I don’t bat them over the head with it. Rather, I share my passions for my work in my blog, and if people are interested that’s great.

For me the “social” in social media goes beyond useless banter on twitter, but rather a forum for sharing my passion, and educating others about a craft that would otherwise die with old people. In fact I think social media is a great place to share you passion, if it’s a true passion for whatever you do.

When looking on the mass scale….social media scales in certain situations, but not in others. I know Amanda calls Gary Vaynerchuck a hustler, but hell there is nothing wrong with working hard. Gary has taken his small internet show to a massive viewership and on to mainstream media. I believe the reason Gary has been successful in doing this is because he exploits passion, and he has a niche enough market. There are a few other examples of social media going well for medium to large businesses, but I believe the real value is for people like myself that use it to share there passions, grow small communities around them, and benefit ultimately from the word of mouth. My business has grown in the 100′s of percent over the last year due to the use of social media, but I do not target those in the space. I merely use the space to get the word out and it grows from there.

Amanda…aka, whoever you really are. I read your tweets and find that often times I do agree with you. The social media space in my mind often shares a singular brain. A few A-Listers blog, tweet, talk about a new book, and everyone (the pack/fishbowl)has to run out and get it. Then you see the masses trying to implement the techniques found in that book. It turns into burnout! Seems like e-books are the hot topic lately to motivate your prospective clients, so everyone and there brother is writing an e-book. There is going to be a big deep wasteland of e-books in 3-6 months because any consumer just seeing the term e-book is going to want to puke at the sight of another attempt to gain their time, focus, and money. E-books will be in the trash bin with the rest of those old long form, headline filled, advertorials that when I see them….it’s a one click delete.

28 08 2008
Lloyd Lemons

I’m certainly not a true believer. Today, I wholeheartedly believe in Amanda’s definition: “Social media is the widely-celebrated fad that has elevated idle chitchat to quasi religion. It is the abandonment of commonsense business…”. However, I do believe it can be wrangled into something productive someday. I enjoy Amanda’s approach when I can follow the context, but chasing the context on platforms like Twitter requires more time than I can alot to it. All-in-all I think her work here is very valuable.

28 08 2008

Keith, Lloyd, Webconomist — thanks for the sober and well-reasoned comments.

Keith, I wholeheartedly agree that as an artist you don’t need social media that scales: after all, by definition good art is made in small batches to be consumed by relatively few people. A business has very different needs.

@amandachapel’s style does seem to be quite polarizing, and it’s quite different from my personal style. Still, I wouldn’t have asked for this interview if I didn’t think the core of what @amanda is saying was important.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and to comment.

28 08 2008
Poly Chronicles

I do agree with some of the markeing points of amanda chapel. However, ship tends to only focus on those social bloggers who have a brand, for lack of a better term. There are many who write just to write, for whatever reason, not to extend their brand–because they really don’t have one, but to send the perverbial message in a bottle into the technologic ocean.

This isn’t a new phenomia. Every time a new communication tool comes out, there are people who use it to send messages into the ether.

That being said, I would never use social media to sell or advertise any product for profit as it dilutes your brand. 128 characters does not equal a 30-second spot, nor does it equate to a full page spread in a leading publication. There is not the same impact, and remember — you get what you pay for.

28 08 2008
Skye B.

I don’t hate @amandachapel, however is quite evident she feels that way about me, since all she does is call me names. This is only because I am friends with someone she really hates. This person certainly is quite hateful towards many, and has a very foul mouth, and one other thing doesn’t make much sense most of the time. I guess some of the things she comes out with make sense, then she goes right back to the hateful things. I have no reason to hate her, but I do dislike her because of the things she accuses my friends of, and also myself. I don’t really even know her AKA whoever. I don’t blame Noah for being angry, she is accusing him of something, if she really read his post, he didn’t do. No one wants to be accused of rape.

I don’t really care for being called a delusional bedridden paraplegic porn beard…plus more. However, these are the things she calls me. She actually called me at one time “a sick f-ck” for no reason at all. From what I see from her, all she does is cyberbully most people on Twitter, and Friendfeed. I think she only uses Twitter to get her/his kicks everyday. I don’t see much usefulness in things she talks about. Oh, well, you did say all comments welcome! :-)

28 08 2008

Thanks for the comment, Poly. I agree that social media can’t substitute for TV advertising — they don’t, and can’t, do the same things.

28 08 2008

Skye, thanks very much for your comment, and I did mean it when I said all comments are welcome.

I agree nobody likes to be called names, and you won’t find me doing that. It’s not my style.

The reason I asked for the interview with @amandachapel is simple. When I separate the content from the vitriol, worthwhile questions being asked, but they are going unanswered.

My hope is that someone can offer answers that would be useful for all of us to hear.

28 08 2008
Tom Hespos

Agreed that marketers ought to temper their enthusiasm for the latest shiny objects with a healthy dose of realism. I don’t see how ad hominem attacks help that, though…

With respect to the five things, may I offer my comments?

1) Exposing yourself to the haters is a great way to change minds. While it’s true that many haters cannot be convinced to abandon their hatred, some haters are just people who have been wronged and can become fans again with a little TLC. I wrote about this a couple years ago: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=43393 [Warning. Registration required.]

2) I’ve not seen a social media problem that can’t be solved by transparency, disclosure of biases, simple honesty and a bit of communications know-how. Even the biggest Internet pile-ons can shift direction once a few key people get a hold of the facts, even in the case of popular targets for online ire like Dell and Wal-Mart. Competitors tend to fake themselves out when they play to popular sentiments with shallow arguments.

3) The SEC has jurisdiction only if you’re a public company, in which case the marketing department is most likely going to get shut down by legal when it brings a social media or conversational marketing initiative for approval anyway.

4) “Control” over brands is an illusion. Yes, I know I’m sounding Cluetrainey, but your customers and your potential customers are the ones who control the perception of your brand. While it’s true marketers can influence that perception, they can’t control it.

5) Yes, beware of hucksters. But coming to the table with something that doesn’t have a quantifiable, predictable and risk-free ROI does not a huckster make. ANY marketing program is subject to factors that people can’t control. Smart social media companies should absolutely qualify metrics and measurement before launching a program, so I think we’re in agreement there. But let’s not pretend that other programs are automatic with respect to their return.

I didn’t get too much out of @amandachapel’s comments. I think the bit about our founding fathers in the U.S. fearing tyranny of the majority was kind of insightful, but I think that’s a simplified view of the dynamic at work in social media.

28 08 2008

First off, I think “Amanda Chapel” is actually Brian Connolly – see this profile at Literati Group. If you then read “amandachapel” as the writings of a man who has spent a long time in traditional PR, then you start to get a triangulation point from which to consider what he’s (emphatically he: if people realised “amanda” is a man, they’d not tolerate the bluntness of the language or personal attacks so lightly) on about.

(With that in mind, why not replace the picture above with a more honest one – that found at http://www.ideagrove.com/blog/2006/03/brian-connolly-in-his-own-words.html ?)

If you consider that his analysis comes from someone seeing his normal business being torn apart by social media – blogs mean users talk directly to executives, and engineers to users; Mypsace means bands and brands can find an audience directly – then the curmudgeonly tone makes more sense. Don’t take away my expense account, it seems to say. Don’t set up that cheap blog in-house. Let us run an expensive one, after considerable time and thought.

So, to the topic in hand. Personally, I think all “social media” are huge experiments, and anyone who says they can lead you through them to the promised land of lots of money is conning you. But they’re an experiment that it’s pointless to stand outside of, because there are parts that work. I’m in newspapers, and social media such as blogs and Twitter and Facebook and Flickr provide fantastic tools for newsgathering, finding contacts, and listening to our readers. They’ve transformed how we work, for the better in my opinion.

On that basis, there’s no point in listening to people who say it’s a waste of time (especially those who participate in those media while decrying them). You can’t learn to swim on dry land.

28 08 2008

Thanks, Tom Hespos, for your usual well-considered POV.

I think there’s a continuum of control for brands. I agree that total control is a dangerous delusion; it’s crazy to think that. But I also think the idea of totally abandoning control of your brand and let people “brandjack” it (as some people have advocated) is irresponsible in the extreme. Brand perceptions need to be managed, and listening to feedback is part of that. I know we’re on the same page on this issue.

Totally agree that “coming to the table with something that doesn’t have a quantifiable, predictable and risk-free ROI does not a huckster make”. In fact, there is no such thing as a sure thing in marketing, ever. I’ve run TV commercials with big budgets that did no good and I’ve done small tactical things that yielded results 5x as good as I ever dared dream.

I’m OK with taking a flier on something new, without guaranteed results. Where I agree with @amandachapel is that without clear goalposts, we have no idea whether we’ve scored a touchdown or are simply running in circles around the snack bar.

28 08 2008

I am a reasonably active Twitter and SM/Web2.0 user. I’d like to think I am at least partly reasonable as well, and I happen to share some of the concerns AC has discussed.

I come to this world as a user of technology and as a business person, and not one specializing in marketing or PR or SEO. I hadn’t heard of @AmandaChapel or Strumpette before I encountered her on Twitter. I found it amazing, as an outsider, to watch how many people got lost in the discussion of her identity and never even approached the concerns and questions she raises. In fact when I first pointed that out I got DM’s and messages “warning” me that “she wasn’t what I thought she was.” Since I am able to separate the viability of ideas written as pixels on a screen from the persona of the “author” I was not concerned. Sometimes, when I have some time, I watch this cycle repeat: Person engages AC. AC responds Someone else (ofteh the same people) says, “I no longer follow her and here is why you shouldn’t either.” Often she is called Brian. At that point, many of us following along at home take a drink, it is that predictable.

Its funny to watch, too, until you realize that this behavior perpetuates the “bad religion” she rails against. We have a lot to to lose unless we get it under control. We need to protect against the erosion of critical thinking and professionalism. We need to value quantifiable results instead of ingrown eyeball cults of personality. @amandachapel’s whipcrack style is not necessarily mine, but I do appreciate the satire, the parody and the intelligence, even if she can be downright mean. Even then, I often laugh out loud.

Folks ignore her ideas and cautionary points at their own peril. Periodically I ask similar questions with less attitude, and I get no answers either, so it can’t just be the messenger.

It helps me to imagine @amandachapel as an incarnation of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, sprung up to chastise the PR/Marketing and SM world. I considered Isaiah, but Jeremiah was more cranky and bigger than life. He was driven to perform often outrageous acts to get folks to think and pay attention because he cared so intensely.

I think @amandachapel does too.

28 08 2008

Charles: I think you may be misreading @amandachapel. AC isn’t saying “social media is a waste of time” so much as saying a cult of personality is not a reasonable substitute for marketing rigor. I understand it can be hard to separate the message from the messenger, but IMHO it’s *really* important to do that here.

The more you believe in the potential of social media for business, the more important it is to be disciplined about how we do our experiments so that we can learn and improve. Would you agree?

Lisa: I absolutely *love* the Jeremiah reference. It’s a great visual. I just need to find a way to not imagine Jeremiah doing a panty flash :-)

29 08 2008

@tjcnyc: the “amanda chapel” brand, though, is key to this. If your interview were with “@google” or “@coca-cola” or “@wal-mart”, you’d interpret what was said differently each time. “Amanda Chapel” is a brand, created and controlled by Brian Connolly, and marketed in much the same way as those; but his aim is to sell lots of disagreement, rather than internet searches or sugary water. By putting that picture up there, you’re mixing the message and the messenger. If you don’t think you are, why not put up the picture I suggested?

“The more you believe in the potential of social media for business, the more important it is to be disciplined about how we do our experiments so that we can learn and improve. Would you agree?”

Only scientists do disciplined experiments. If you mean “don’t put everyone in the company on Twitter and writing a blog just to see what happens”, of course I agree. If you mean “only let one person do a blog after you can prove there will be an ROI”, I don’t. Experiments sometimes fail; else they wouldn’t be experiments, they’d be procedures. Yes, you need to learn from them (but humans are good at that).

It’s all in opportunity cost, though. If you don’t blog/social network/Twitter, you haven’t spent any money (in employee time, etc). Hurrah! Infinite ROI! But what’s the lost opportunity in terms of brand or sales? How do you measure that? Management metrics are often useless; they only measure things that can be measured. Lawyers measure how much time they spend on a case and how much they earn; is that a useful metric compared to whether the cases they win set precedents or change society? Does it tell you whether they’ll get another case? Clearly not, or not lawyers would ever do pro-bono.

For those sorts of reasons, I think that being a curmudgeon about social media is pointless. I’m a sceptic (professionally, personally, on pretty much anything); but I engage with social media because I can see a value in it every day – through reader reaction, story leads, expanded readership. Do I do it in a “disciplined” way? By whose measure? This isn’t really the sort of thing that bean-counters can make much sense of.

@lisa: “We need to protect against the erosion of critical thinking and professionalism.” True. But increasing the noise level, as Brian seems to me to do, doesn’t help to achieve it. (Have a drink if you’re playing the game. Coffee would be good.)

29 08 2008

@charles: I agree @amandachapel is a brand, and that its mission is to be a provocateur. I’m using the photo from the bio and the panty flash icon because those are essentially’s the brand’s logo. I’m not here to “unmask” anybody; I’m more curious about how people react to the @amandachapel brand, and why they react the way they do.

I can’t agree that “only scientists do disciplined experiments”. The entire business of direct marketing consists of disciplined experiments. According to the DMA, companies spent $161 Billion on direct marketing in 2005 and generated $1.85 Trillion in sales. Direct marketing was estimated to account for 10.3 percent of total U.S. GDP in 2005.(Source: http://www.mediabuyerplanner.com/2005/09/30/dm_will_hit_161b/)

Without a sense of what we hope to accomplish, there are no “experiments” — it’s simply feeling around in the dark. I’m OK with that, too, by the way. For example, I’m curious about social media and am trying to learn about it. I’m feeling around in the dark right now. I won’t call what i’m doing an experiment until I know more about what exactly it is I’m trying to learn, and I have metrics to measure against.

I can’t agree that management metrics are often useless, either. We don’t manage what we don’t measure, and a company that operates without regard to metrics won’t survive long.

I think we’ll need to agree to disagree on these points. I am all for poetry and the “soft stuff” of business (I’m a creative guy by trade), but I worry when people tell me I don’t need to worry about measurement and profit, because I’m also a businessman.

Thanks again for your comments. Even if we didn’t entirely agree, your thoughts have helped to clarify my thinking.

29 08 2008
Amanda Chapel

I wasn’t going to enter the fray here but Charles Arthur’s comments are particularly misleading.

1. As far as Strumpette being a brand, absolutely! And the various actors behind the brand are NOT at issue. Who’s the real Ronald McDonald is ridiculous, absurd and irrelevant. Charles insistence that A*MAN*da*CHAP*el is Brian is hallucination and a silly literal-minded attempt to discount and control. The fact is, the efficacy of social media is NOT about Brian Connolly.

2. We at Strumpette.com do NOT sell bald disagreement. Our body of work regarding social media is extensive: see http://strumpette.com/pages/choice.html ; and http://strumpette.com/pages/leaders.html ; and http://twitter.com/amandachapel/favourites .

Sure we also entertain. We actively participate in the online circus. The snake bites its own tail is a powerful metaphorical tool. But we are known for good writing. We inspire specific critical thinking. We uniquely question variously the tenets of the social media faux religion.

3. “Only scientists do disciplined experiments.” Nonsense. Apparently, Charles has little or no business experience.

4. “Experiments sometimes fail.” Agreed. And social media thus far is a proven disaster. The point is that The Great Cluetrain Wreck has happened and was totally predicted.

5. “You need to learn from them [experiments] (but humans are good at that).” Absolutely. But learnings fundamentally articulate authority and “objective” value. Social media rejects that completely. Social media is the celebration of subjective anything-goes thinking (if you want to call that thinking).

Sadly, this is why the social media virus is so intractable. We’ve empowered a myriad of lawless knuckleheads and given them a global platform that destroys the very structure of order. At Strumpette, in these instances, we conclude with the Woody Allen quote: “It’s nothing a fistful of Prozac and a baseball bat couldn’t cure.”

6. “It’s all in opportunity cost, though. If you don’t blog/social network/Twitter, you haven’t spent any money (in employee time, etc). Hurrah! Infinite ROI!” Nonsense. Volume is NOT synonymous with value.

7. “But what’s the lost opportunity in terms of brand or sales? How do you measure that? Management metrics are often useless; they only measure things that can be measured.” See #3 above.

8. “For those sorts of reasons, I think that being a curmudgeon about social media is pointless. This isn’t really the sort of thing that bean-counters can make much sense of.” TRANSLATION: As I [Charles] don’t understand business or organizational dynamics, I [Charles] think due diligence is pointless.

9. “But increasing the noise level, as Brian seems to me to do, doesn’t help to achieve it.” Without reiterating *again* the ridiculousness of the “Brian” label… it is Charles and his social media “friendz” that are adding to the noise level. THAT’S THE POINT! From the perspective of fair and orderly business and culture, it is social media that’s producing historic volumes of noise.

- Amanda

29 08 2008
lisa rokusek

@charles: I don’t just see/hear noise from @amandachapel. I see/hear questions and concepts and ideas that are worthwhile, as I have indicated to you on twitter. I think those that are unable or unwilling to engage with the content instead of fixating on the identity of the messenger lose out.

On twitter you asked me me to find critical thinking from her for you to debate, and there is a lot here. However you are still fixated on her identity. Still talking about Brian, still not talking about anything with substance.

One of the dangers I see in this technology is that it helps to create digital ghettos of sameness. Folks within protect the safety of their turf from interlopers. So easy to call someone a troll for asking questions. I have had that experience myself on twitter, and I do not hit people over the head with baseball bats (well, usually not).

There is real resistance to questioning some of the hallowed precepts within SM, and overcoming that just might take a curmudgeon, or possibly a jeremiad. :)

29 08 2008

Interesting. You do know that ‘Amanda’ is really Brian ;)

29 08 2008

@jas — Honestly, I don’t know who ‘Amanda’ is or who ‘Brian’ is. I don’t feel hoodwinked because I never believed ‘Amanda’ was the person depicted in the stock photos or the bio.

What I’m really curious about is this: why are people so passionately interested in the fake persona and so completely uninterested in the real questions?

Can you offer any theories? I’m genuinely puzzled.

29 08 2008

@lisa: “However you are still fixated on her identity. Still talking about Brian, still not talking about anything with substance.”

You seem somehow to have ignored the fact that I said that I find social media useful every day. I do – on Twitter (to build relationships), on Flickr and Facebook, and on blogs. Every day I find them useful. I get stories via blogs. Readers come to our site to read stories I write whose genesis or first contact is blogs or Twitter or Facebook or Flickr or Twitter. Is that substantial enough for you? Can you understand it? Social media = valuable to me. Monetarily valuable. Advertising-served valuable. I hope those are phrases you can grok as being about substance.

@tjnyc: I didn’t say all management metrics are useless. But there are many examples of how measuring things doesn’t improve outcomes. Waiting times for hospital operations. Reducing those seems like a good metric. But doing that can lead to a focus on operations that can be done quickly, rather than those which are important (or save money in the long term in care). That’s a quick example. To depict what I was saying as being “all management metrics are useless” is a distortion.

As to the Chapel of A PR Man – I’m a journalist. I like facts. I really dislike lies, mendacity, and people who obscure facts. My job is about finding facts, and presenting them. I find it interesting that you agree with a number of my points. How interesting to have an acknowledgement that “Amanda” is a brand, created by many people. Perhaps (1) you’ll end the artifice of a “name” and a “photo” now.

You may think you’re known (2) for good writing. Where I’m sitting – my email inbox and Twitter – it looks like Tourette’s.

Disciplined experiments (3) – fine, businesses can do disciplined experiments. I work in journalism, where we don’t do timesheets, nor measure output by words, but by the single metrics of readers and revenues. We’ve the most popular newspaper site in the UK (August). Our website is, I believe, profitable. We use social media a lot. It works for us.

What is this “Great Cluetrain Wreck” (4)? A URL please with an example or 20. No bombast; an example, please.

“Social media is the celebration of subjective anything-goes thinking” (5). We have different definitions of “social media” then. Tell us yours. Mine are things like Flickr, blogs, Twitter. I find them all useful and they enhance my work – I’ve worked without them, and it was a damn sight harder to produce useful output.

ROI (6). So tell us how you ‘d measure ROI from blogs/Twitter/Facebook etc. I see it through getting more readers; getting reader tips; getting readers pointing to things for stories, or pointing readers to our work. That has a return, for almost zero investment.

8 is a distortion of what I said; I’ll let people read what I wrote, there and above. A comment: to “translate” someone else’s words is a typical means of not debating their point, and bringing it instead to the one you want – the strawman technique.

9: I’ll let others be the judge of who’s just making noise, and who’s getting on with using these tools and figuring out the best ways to apply and exploit them. I have work to do, perhaps unlike some others.


29 08 2008

@tjnyc: “I don’t feel hoodwinked because I never believed ‘Amanda’ was the person depicted in the stock photos or the bio.”

Sorry to belabour this point, but I will. If you didn’t think that was the case, why are you hoodwinking your passing readers by including the picture there? Why not have a picture of a walrus, or the Golden Gate Bridge, or an 80-year-old woman sitting by the side of the road? Each would be as much “Amanda” as the one you have – that is, not at all.

Be honest with yourself. If the “Amanda” picture were a naked woman, would you use it? If it were a fully-clothed 50-year-old woman, would you use that? If it were a clothed 50yo man, would you use that?

So why do you use the one you do? It’s not just brand. It’s about the passing reader: you’re misleading them, through the picture (even if you then disclaim it in the text, which fewer people will read). Why, why, why are you doing that? Truth in marketing, indeed.

29 08 2008

@Charles – I get that you find Social Media useful. So do I. All of these tools are fun and interesting, and we can all make a few friends and do a little business with them.

The part I struggle with is the “few friends” and “little business”. The business I’m in (consumer packaged goods) relies on winning over millions of people quickly. Even a social media campaign that influenced thousands of people would be of limited utility for us.

Perhaps where we differ is in our focus, and in our needs.

If @amandachapel’s online persona was represented by a cheese babka, Jar-Jar Binks, or a cross-dressing Richard Nixon wearing a pirate hat, that’s how I’d show that persona here. That’s the brand I’m interviewing: nothing misleading about it.

P.S. Would smart questions from someone who looked like the model in the photo automatically be invalid simply because of her looks? Would they be more valid if they come from someone extremely unattractive?

30 08 2008
Not Amanda Chapel

OK, it’s Friday night, time to take off the mask and go home.

Tom, I know you’re new to this world but I’m sorry but I have to admit that I played you. The Strumpet is just about shit and giggles — that’s all it is.

@Charles, nice investigative journalism. I may well be Brian Connolly but no hard feelings all, it’s been fun.

I’m off now to spend the weekend trying to reassure my Idea Grove clients that the time I spend on-line as The Strumpet is not billed their accounts.

30 08 2008

@notamandachappel: It’s Strumpette. I’m just saying.

30 08 2008

@tjcnyc thanks, but a strumpet I am, no need to tart it up with fancy spelling.

But apologies to the folks at Idea Grove.

30 08 2008

@tjnyc: “The business I’m in (consumer packaged goods) relies on winning over millions of people quickly. Even a social media campaign that influenced thousands of people would be of limited utility for us.”

They’re millions of individuals, all different. Some will generate word of mouth. Some influence others. I’m not saying abandon your TV spots or whatever. Social media is an add-on, not a replacement. Just as TV hasn’t replaced radio hasn’t replaced print, these new tools don’t replace old ones, they supplement them.

“Perhaps where we differ is in our focus, and in our needs.”

Exactly. It’s like trying to deliver coal in a car for you, perhaps. That doesn’t mean cars have no use. To continue the metaphor, I find them excellent for driving around meeting individuals.

“P.S. Would smart questions from someone who looked like the model in the photo automatically be invalid simply because of her looks?”

No. In some senses, more valid. It would be truth in branding.

“Would they be more valid if they come from someone extremely unattractive?”

No different. But it’s the misrepresentation inherent in the picture I’m objecting to. It’s an untruth. Even the position that the character really represents isn’t like that. The real person (or people) seem to be long-time PR men, perhaps plump with expense-account lunches, who feel threatened by social media or can’t grok it; not a feisty 30-something divorcee. If social media should be about anything, it’s honesty, because dishonesty has a particular smell that eventually comes out – and destroys the brand. That’s certainly been the lesson of this whole episode for me. Scepticism I already had.

30 08 2008
Amanda Chapel

Well, I think we’ve touched the bottom of the pool. :)

Seriously, note Charles’ last line, “That’s certainly been the lesson of this whole episode for me.” Simply, Charles came with a misunderstanding… and leaves with an impassioned prejudice. Sad.

As I said here (above), “But learnings fundamentally articulate authority and ‘objective’ value. Social media rejects that completely. Social media is the celebration of subjective anything-goes thinking (if you want to call that thinking).”

Charles and this thread turn out to be a mini case history. His words: “then the curmudgeonly tone makes more sense;” “it seems to say;” “you start to get a triangulation point”. Fact is, his desperate focus to discount the messenger rather than address the issues underscores boldly that he’s got no clue.

And that’s where we leave it regrettably. A radically dysfunctional and destructive system empowered to spread virtually unchecked. Again, as I said earlier, “Sadly, this is why the social media virus is so intractable. We’ve empowered a myriad of lawless knuckleheads and given them a global platform that destroys the very structure of order.” It’s not about articulation first; it’s about “like minds” finding other “like minds” who agree with their personal opinion. That’s it! And I challenge and insult that. No wonder Charles & friendz take it so personally.

Anyway… yesterday, this ‘exorcise’ inspired this question on Twitter “is the social media movement smart enough to know when it’s failed?” Can it like a business adjust, adapt, improve? Can it rise out of the swamp? Not likely. That’s the real lesson here.

Kind regards,

- Amanda

30 08 2008

“his desperate focus to discount the messenger rather than address the issues underscores boldly that he’s got no clue.”

I’ve given examples of how social media helps my work, and suggested why it might not work – or why tjnyc might think it wouldn’t work (I’m undecided) for his line of what sounds like FMCG.

I’ve asked for a number of explanations of claims made by Brian Connolly, who lurks behind the persona of Spongebob Squarepants, or whatever the “brand” is meant to be. None have been provided. The real lesson here: you cannot have a rational argument with trolls. They’ll concede no points; their pretence of debate is hollow. They change the basis, they ignore your facts, they do not create a logical structure for argument. Do not feed the trolls.

30 08 2008
Amanda Chapel

Charles in dramatic fashion, it is YOU along with Noah, Skye B., Jas, and NotAmandaChapel, who have been the trolls here.

You make my point.

Again, excellent case study here as to the failure of social media.


- Amanda

30 08 2008
lisa rokusek

Aaaand we are back where we started, Charles. Name calling, refusing to engage, and throwing stones. Sad.

No one here has said SM is useless, in fact many have said this technology has potential for great power and usefulness, but only if it matures, cleans up its act, holds itself accountable for real results and doesn’t simply create digital ghettos of sameness that resist critical thinking. Of course the it in that sentence is us as users, participants, or creators. This technology helps us to connect with other folks, more often, with less effort and with more precision. But the connection is not the point, not really. I am not a fan of databases for databases sake, or of conversation that say nothing. The value comes in how we use the power of the connection what it helps to accomplish. It has always been that way, even before paper and pen, the printing press and the telephone. Even now, in the middle of all this new shiny stuff, that is still the point.

So here we are, at least some of us, wrapping our minds around how this stuff can be used to lift us (collectively) up, instead of recreating high school drama as adults. And there you are, refusing to do anything but calling names and focusing on identity instead of ideas. “Don’t feed the trolls.” Nice. Smells like high school. By acting this way you are absolutely proving the points AC made, but I still hope for more, and better, from you. I really do.

1 09 2008

no one knows what social media is, in terms of human consciousness. it is the outward expression of mind. like it or not, a technologizing of extra-sensory-perception. isn’t pretty, is it. banal to the extreme.

unaccompanied by wisdom, it is without much value.

can it lead to increased human wisdom? no signs yet.

1 09 2008

Who cares “who” @amandachapel really is? he/She/they bring great perspective to whole discussion. It’s the most honest behavior out there.

2 09 2008
Tangyslice » Art, Science and the Expert Opinion

[...] Everyday, I’m reminded that Marketing is both art and science.  It is the art part that always challenges me.  There is no formula to derive that magical viral marketing video or blockbuster TV ad.  It usually requires someone with a wildly creative mind and a track record for delivering results.  Beyond that I have found limited ways to vet these expert marketing advisors who bring these things to life.  In other fields like finance or law people spend years getting special professional qualifications (ie a CPA or Bar Certification).  As a marketer, however, virtually anyone can become an “ad man”, social media guru or brand expert (see @amandachapel). [...]

2 09 2008

Footnote regarding @amandachapel’s reference to the framers of the US Constitution having witnessed the French Revolution and consequently having been terrified of populism and tyranny of the masses:

The US Constitution was created in 1787 and ratified in 1788. The French Revolution did not occur until later. It began in 1789, with the storming of the Bastille, and the worst part of it — the Reign of Terror — was in 1793-1794.

So, although the framers may indeed have been concerned about populism and tyranny of the masses when they created the Constitution, it could not have been because they were terrified of these by having witnessed the French Revolution.

2 09 2008

@jswi_jim: Thanks for clarifying the chronology. I hope the legacy of social media is that we learn to listen to more points of view, not fewer. But, history offers little to assure me this will be the case :-)

2 09 2008
socialized » Amanda Chapel takes on social media pundits, Return on Interaction

[...] enjoyed a recent interview with Amanda Chapel on Tom Cuniff’s iCPG blog in which she takes on some social media sacred cows (SMSCs) and warns prospective corporate social [...]

3 09 2008
Amanda Chapel

Re: jswi_jim’s footnote. “Although deeply sympathetic to the French in general and the revolutionary cause in particular, Thomas Jefferson deplored the excesses of violence that took place *even before* the implementation of the Reign of Terror.” http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/592/

Jim, you are also splitting hairs re: ratification. The Storming of the Bastille in Paris occurred on 14 July 1789. North Carolina did not ratify the Constitution until November 21, 1789 and Rhode Island in May 29, 1790.

4 09 2008

In response to Amanda Chapel’s comments on my footnote:

At the risk of splitting a few more hairs, I offer the following further comments.

Amanda, your quotation about Jefferson comes from an editorial summary — on the page for which you provided the link — of a letter Jefferson wrote at the beginning of 1793, which is also given in full on the same page. In his letter, Jefferson is clearly discussing events that took place in years immediately prior to 1793, so it seems quite a stretch to use the letter to establish what the framers of the Constitution were thinking in 1787. Anyway, Jefferson did not have any direct role in writing the Constitution or in advocating its ratification, as he was engaged abroad during that time.

As to ratification, Article Seven of the Constitution specified that the Constitution would take effect when at least nine states had ratified it. That occurred in 1788. Article Seven also specified that the Constitution would only apply to those states that ratified it, so it did not apply to North Carolina and Rhode Island until they later ratified it.

The more compelling evidence for your original point can be found not in an achronistic alleged reaction to the French Revolution, but rather in the writings of Gouverneur Morris and especially of Alexander Hamilton (in Federalist Papers #10 and #35), both of whom were delegates to the Philadelphia Convention and signers of the Constitution, and in those of other contemporaries, such as John Jay.

5 09 2008
Karen Swim

Interesting interview. The absence of critical thinking and disciplined analysis however is not confined to social media but, in my humble opinion, speaks to a greater societal issue. Are we truly surprised at the herd mentality of social media when we are being socialized as trend followers? We live in an age where anyone can have a platform, which has pros and cons. Opinions are expressed as fact and thoughtful discussion and divergent opinions are lost in the echoes of the crowd. I do not like the personal attacks but celebrate the opportunity to respectfully debate, discuss and uncover solutions.

11 03 2009
Mark Nelson


I know I’m woefully late on commenting on this article as I have just come across it today, but I believe I have an answer to your question:

“What I’m really curious about is this: why are people so passionately interested in the fake persona and so completely uninterested in the real questions?

Can you offer any theories? I’m genuinely puzzled.”

Simply put – it is not the points, ideals, or beliefs eminating from the @amandachapel character/brand/persona that has more than just a few people up in arms and discounting anything he/she/it says. It is the track record Brian has laid for himself over the past ten years (all publicly accessible with a simple Google search).

It is hard to take anything written by @amandachapel at face value, or even seriously, regardless of how valid the points may or may not be simply because the foundation for what that persona stands for was built on lies, cowardice, threats, insults, and general cyber-bullying. How do you take seriously the comments (or ravings) of an individual who has a proven track record of harassing, threatening, and bullying those who disagree with his/her/its point of view both online and off?

Further to that – how seriously can you take these rantings from someone who hypocritically uses the very vehicles being trashed to spread his/her/its hate for the medium? A large percentage of articles resulting in a Google search for “Amanda Chapel” link directly to social media venues BELONGING to @amandachapel and/or links thereof within articles about the persona.

Opposition to the @amandachapel persona, and the person most definitely behind it, is not only well founded but well documented. *Some* points brought up by the @amandachapel character may very well be valid but are broadly tainted by the foundation set up for itself over the past several years.

And I would know – I was a target myself of the person behind the Chapel persona several years ago (both online and off), and there is nothing “different” in style, writing, or activity now as there was then. However “intelligent” tweets and interviews may appear to the average reader, it is severely tempered by the REAL person behind the persona and the track record he has carved for himself – rendering whatever legitimacy such posts may contain as nothing more than the continued ravings of a childish ‘Net bully.

11 03 2009

Thanks for the comment, Mark. I’m glad to have you join the conversation, and IMO there’s no such thing as a “late comment”. I’ve read the Google research, but I’m in no position to judge any of it. All I can say is that my own experience with @amandachapel was intellectually interesting and a pleasure. I interviewed both “her” and Chris Brogan and both people were incredibly nice to me. Maybe I’m just lucky :-)

You asked “how seriously can you take these rantings from someone who hypocritically uses the very vehicles being trashed to spread his/her/its hate for the medium?” As I see it, the “popularity” of the @amandachapel meme confirms @amanda’s thesis: it’s relatively easy to build a personal brand in social media. Even a fake person that people REALLY hate can do it :-)

The larger question is this: is that all there is? Can social media make a real difference for a large CPG business? And if it can, how?

Thanks again for the comment, Mark.

Cheers! Tom

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