Social media is dictated entirely by consumers

G6XD2Mike Mikho said recently.. “Social media is dictated entirely by consumers, not brands. Trends, discussions, and points of interest are going to be generated by news, current events and pop culture, not brand business goals. With the exception of a few brilliantly conceived lines by a handful of companies, the majority of the hashtag encouragement is a waste of time (and for anyone promoting trends, a waste of money). Brands will always have a hard time starting a conversation, especially about their products, because people would rather talk about who Kim Kardashian is marrying or which athletes are taking steroids. The brands that really achieve earned media at scale are the ones who relevantly insert themselves into ongoing conversations in a fun or witty way.”  But is that even enough to drive conversion?

Consumers’ attention spans are shortening by the second; most news is only relevant for a day or two, if not less yet marketers insist on interrupting consumers as they try and catch up on social friend and catching up on the news.

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According to a new survey and associated report penned by Forrester analyst Nate Elliot, only 55 percent of Twitter marketers say they’re “satisfied with the business value they achieve” from the platform. Apparently that’s low compared to other established online marketing channels like search, email, mobile, and online display.

In addition social media is not delivering the desired result for the majority of enterprises worldwide, according to a global trend report published by Tata Consultancy Services. Very few (10 percent) enterprises have actually benefited from investments in social media.

Consumers do use social media to interact with companies but findings of the report indicate that only 27 percent of research and development/product development and 37 percent of product management departments read social media comments from consumers on a regular basis.

Eighty-one percent of those who are benefiting from social media go beyond just having company pages on social networks and have corporate blogs.

Seventy-seven percent of these companies have mobile apps for consumers who use social media, and 61 percent have online video channels.

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It’s Time To Cut Back On Social Media (Harvard Business Review)

It has become increasingly clear that with the proliferation of new platforms, no person or company can become the master of them all. Nor should they. The harder decision is figuring out which ones you should prioritize, and which ones you should scrap. Establishing ROI has always been the holy grail of social media. We may still have a ways to go before we can quantify its objective, dollars-and-cents impact. But even anecdotally, you probably have some good operating theories. For instance, if you target women, Pinterest is a great bet; if it’s males, Google+ is currently their stomping ground. And blogging is the best way to demonstrate true content mastery and thought leadership. It’s all about pruning and focusing on the platforms that have the most impact.

Basically, “engaging in the conversation” does not increase your reach in social media.

Social media, social media marketing, and social networking have been the subject of much hype, buzz and marketing budget disruption for big and small business alike.  Most businesses entered into social media marketing as a defensive strategy because they were afraid of losing out to competitors who were quicker to adapt and leverage this new platform.

Buoyed up by a seemingly endless cavalcade of social marketing experts demonstrating how their own social marketing success was evidence of how social media marketing would work for each and every business, if only they invested cash, time and effort.

Businesses bought into social marketing wholesale. Huge marketing budgets were allocated for social marketing campaigns intended to catapult the marketing reach and social influence of that business into huge, untapped online markets.

So what’s the bottom line?

I’m not sure that a funny or witty Tweet, even if it goes viral, is going to lead to brand conversion.  Sure Oreo hit a social media home run with their Tweet at the Super Bowl last year but can the marketers at Nabisco really tie that Tweet to a lift in sales ?

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Most social media experts are full of mud and become experts to get their 3 minutes of fame.  My advice to marketers is focus on understanding your customers and translate the findings into marketing initiatives that drive conversion.

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