- A few years ago it seemed there was a law that that required us to include “Like us on Facebook” or “Join the conversation” in every ad we created. Today if you put “Like us on Facebook” or “Join the conversation” in an ad you’d be laughed out of the conference room (Ad Contrarian)
- Very few social media programs have anything resembling significant sales impact.
- The idea that consumers want to interact with brand content is the grand delusion of the social media.
- Any marketers who believe they’re having a conversation on Facebook are delusional.
- However, consumers are using social media to give brands feedback and ask questions. They want answers in Internet time.
Remember when social media was really growing, and all the so-called experts told us, “we had to be on social media”? They used that hype to promote their own brands or books they were selling. Today social media marketing is dead. Organic reach is so small it’s non-extant, and despite Facebook’s continued lies, brands are begging them to take their money.
The real value of social media for marketers is two-fold. First, it’s a great way to listen to what consumers are saying about certain products or subjects. Second, it’s a great channel for customer service, provided brands understand that consumers today want instant gratification.
The challenge for brands is quantifying what’s said on social media and identifying actionable insights versus constant complainers or trolls. Not everything that’s said on social media merits attention, but brands should be ready to defend social media posts that directly challenge brand equity.
The other issue is the use of social media as a customer service channel. If a customer has a complaint, brands should be ready to respond right away and empower customer service people to solve problems. Nothing pisses off a customer more than getting no response from a brand that has let them down.
When asked what makes a brand best-in-class on social, the number one response from consumers was strong customer service yet marketers cited audience engagement as the distinguishing factor according to Sprout Social. Their research also shows that “seventy-eight percent of consumers agree that social media is the fastest and most direct way to connect with a brand—and consumers want their voices heard”.
Where I disagree with Sprout’s research is using social media followers as a business metric. To date a lot of research indicates there is almost no correlation between the number of followers and sales. Pages that brands built on Facebook and feeds they created on Twitter drew initial interest as novelties, but soon became moribund as consumers found them to be bland and self-serving.
Reliable studies show that social media followers have little to no correlation to brand effectiveness. Yet, it is still the most widely utilized measurement (or Key Performance Indicator, in ad jargon) of online advertising performance. To make matters worse, brands are still inflating their social media budgets.
One CPG company I work with has developed a social media listening group. Their job is to listen and report what consumers are saying about the product categories in which they compete and quantify social media conversations. So far, their group has revealed some great insights into everything from pricing to packaging.
Social media can be valuable as a marketing tool but as a stand alone marketing tactic it’s dead.