I love Tom Fishburne's "Brand Camp" cartoons. They prove that old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words (or, in today's biz world, a 1000 PowerPoint slides).
His take on how many companies are approaching social media is at once hilarious and all too true (as many hilarious things are). Tom reinforces the point in his blog: "Many businesses treat social media tools the same dropping an FSI or placing a grocery cart ad. It becomes just more superficial window dressing..."
I think that the core idea that many companies are not sure what they are doing in this arena of social media is TOTALLY on target.
However, I would posit that the real issue goes beyond simply "putting lipstick on a pig" (which suggests trying to make a bad idea look acceptable...and we've all had an assignment to do that in our day!). It's also a matter of "the blind leading the blind" or just plain "keeping up with the Jones's" -- CEO at Company A has a social media effort for his firm, so CEO at Company B needs one, too (whether it makes sense for his/her business strategy or not). THAT can lead to lipstick, eyeliner, rouge, eye brow plucking, hair styling and a tummy tuck for some poor pig when what he/she simply needed was a bath!
This is not unusual human behavior in the business world...we've seen it before whenever anything new and/or complex comes along. The rush to tactics before thinking through the strategies happens all the time. Hence, the lipstick slathering.
I choose to believe that over time more people and companies will move from a rush to tactics or "slapping on some lipstick" and start thinking through how and where social media fits into their overall business and marketing STRATEGY (see my post on Border's promo for Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol). That's when the really interesting things will start to show up in the marketplace.
Having said all that, I LOVE this cartoon and will clip it and keep it on my wall to (1) remind me of the many mistakes we can make as marketers/business people and (2) make me laugh. If we can't recognize and laugh at our mistakes, then we won't learn from them. And, we'll end up using waaay too much lipstick.