Recently I learned that once a company has filed an S-1 registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating that they may pursue an initial public offering of common stock, they enter into a “quiet period” during which they are not allowed any “unpermissible hype” that could be construed as an attempt to boost the company’s value pre-IPO. While this hobbles the Marketing department somewhat, sometimes “hype happens” – usually due to media over-attention.
All kinds of unpermissible hype has been circulating around the Facebook IPO, as it did around other high-profile social media site IPOs such as LinkedIn and Groupon. But if CNN’s Douglas Rushkoff’s perspective is correct, “We are witnessing the beginning of the end of Facebook. These aren’t the symptoms of a company that is winning, but one that is cashing out… The object of the game, for any one of these ultimately temporary social networks, is to create the illusion that it is different, permanent, invincible and too big to fail. And to be sure, Facebook has gone about as far as any of them has at creating that illusion.”
Perhaps Facebook is about to jump the shark. Maybe Google+ will become the next hottest social media community. As a marketing professional, I think it’s pretty slick how they tied their +1 button to rankings. But as Ryan Singel of Wired magazine reports, ” While not surprising, the move would bring Google’s search engine into the social networking era… (but) the company is virtually inviting the world’s spammers and blackhat SEO magicians to flood its social networking system with fake profiles and fake votes — potentially ruining it and possibly making the problem of search spam even worse.” Sounds like hype that could backfire. If it does, I’m sure the media will be all over it.
There would seem to be a fine line between permissible and unpermissible hype. Along with Facebook’s pending IPO, here are some topics I consider to have recently crossed way over the unpermissible hype line: Mitt Romney’s money, Super Bowl ads, and a slew of celebrity train wreaks (Demi being the latest). Is it because American’s love hype, or because our media thinks we do? Well, if it’s unpermissible to you, change the channel. If many others decided to do the same, the game will change.