The Biggest Mistake Social Media Made.


They gave it to Mikey.

I got a call one day on my phone at my office when I worked at JWT Chicago. It was in the Hancock building on 875 North Michigan Avenue. The call was on the phone on my desk. That is how we communicated in those days. It came from a friend. It was a big building. A 100 story building that gave me a hundred stories for sure. I worked on the 27th floor and could see Lake Michigan.

I never realized the call would connect me to the future.

It was in the mid 80’s. Where you born then?

Come down to the mail room they said. I want to show you something. Then again it could have been the media mail room. They had their own. Media people got a lot of mail and the best seats at any sporting event in the city. A copy of every magazine in the world came to each media person and there were plenty at JWT Chicago because 700 people worked at JWT Chicago when I was there.

Lots of people started their career in the mail room.

David Geffen started his entertainment career in the mail room of the William Morris agency.

I didn’t realize why we were meeting in the mail room until I got there. It was a place where you had numerous outlets that connected to the phone system. And a place where Telexes came in. My big boss went to London all the time on the Concorde. All First Class at 1,354 miles an hour.

Somebody had come into the agency and was doing a demo for Prodigy. Some sales rep, who was figuring out where do I take this thing. Media? Is it a channel? Something I could sell?

A former client of JWT Chicago, Sears, owned a piece of the action.

Prodigy was on online service that supported 1200 bit/s modems. Hence the mail rooms with the multiple phone lines.

By 1990 Prodigy was the second-largest online service provider, with 465,000 subscribers trailing only CompuServe‘s 600,000.

I remember sitting around and taking a look at the demo. People asked questions.

I didn’t know what it was but I saw that this was a road I should go down.

I didn’t know where it lead but I do know why today.

It was the start of the internet. I liked it.

In the beginning it was a library but without a Dewey decimal system.

Those of you that have visited the library when you went to college to look up a book probably don’t know that it was invented in 1876. Was that a long time ago?

I went home right away and signed up for everything.

Years later social media came. First MySpace and then Facebook.

And then came the problem.

Most of the people in management had children. They were on Myspace. They had computers.

They had high speed internet service.

They would go see their kids in their den that were on Myspace.

Monday morning they went into the office and said social media is for young people.

They gave it to Mikey.

Don’t know Mikey?

Here is the commercial.

The commercial is about a couple of brothers that don’t think the cereal is going to taste good so they give the bowl to their younger brother and he likes it. Give it to Mikey.

So what if social media at the beginning had been assigned to the top dog instead of Mikey.

Where would it be today?

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch a Video called: How Not To Be a Vendor Agency

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