Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Clients & Agencies "Have to DO Social Media." Really? What's the REAL ROI on Those Efforts?

Comment on to Mark Walsh's article (Link): Agencies Buddy Up With Social Media Platform

Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow says: "Agencies are starting to figure out they have to do social media and this platform is specifically a social marketing platform for agencies."

Excuse me, but WTF?!? "...figure out they have to DO social media..." What exactly is "DOING social media"? Apparently it involves: "...driving user interaction through a range of customizable apps for adding quizzes, polls, YouTube videos, slideshows and HTML, among other features to ("fan") pages." And the objective of this "user interaction" would be...? Making Brand Teams feel really good, like when they break 1,000 best friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter? What's the ROI on "doing social media"?

The brilliant creator of Universal City Walk, amongst other breakthrough architectural BID projects (Jon Jerde Partnership) said "People go where people are." A universal insight into human nature he leveraged in designing 'destinations.' It makes sense to slip in some advertising wherever people are, but no one with any conceptual ability would believe that setting up a booth at City Walk for Bud Lime at which people could become 'fans,' leave their email address and receive spam with funny video clips and quizzes was a great idea for turning them into loyal brand buyers -- oh yeah, great experiment, but we've learned people tire of the spam very quickly. and all the other 'young male portals' died quickly due to a lack of content quality and volume as YouTube blew past them. (Link to post) Simply because the masses socialize in a new medium does not make it a new mass medium.

Folks, any medium labeled "social" is not an advertising-appropriate medium any more than telemarketing is. The illusion that people are willingly becoming 'fans' of your brand is nothing more than early adopter experimentation -- it is already fading out (witness the acceleration of how fast new bloggers, Facebook members and Tweeters drop out). "Social media," like listening in on any conversation between people, is merely for listening to how well your marketing efforts OUTSIDE of social media are doing.

Yes, we can whack up some animated display ads to inject into consumers' Facebook wall posts and they won't complain too loudly (they accept this as an annoyance that pays for this fun, free social connection tool), but "social" conversations aren't ripe for the injection of "push marketing" efforts. Early willingness to see what's going on with new technology like Twitter is identical to kids at raves being willing to chat with "guerilla" brand ambassadors handing out free branded vodka shots -- welcome to a new wild and crazy platform/venue, Brand X, but don't expect an invitation to my house party (and don't expect me to be so willing to chat at the next rave I see you at now that I realize what you are up to...).

There ARE going to be new technologies that will allow us to create "PULL marketing" efforts online for smartphone exposure (take a look at Yelp's Monocle and let your imagination work), consider how functional A.I. via Web 3.0 (The Semantic Web) will change the way we market very soon, but all this hoopla about "doing social media" is nothing but a fast-track to ruining our credibility as marketers on yet another new medium. RESIST the impulse to 'flock'; think, analyze and understand that the most fundamental lesson the Internet has taught us: NO ONE wants the endless repetition that push marketing is based upon; no one wants us interrupting their social interaction; and ultimately, no one really wants any brand to 'be their best friend' -- they have fellow humans for that.

What's most interesting in all of this is that the key barrier to experiential marketing winning a bigger slice of the media spending pie, that we've yet to develop a provable ROI metric, doesn't exist as major international brands fall over themselves to 'invest' in "social marketing," which has ZERO ROI metrics (standardized or even commonly accepted) going for it. Kind of like marketers complacent faith in TV advertising at any cost, no?


  1. Your perceptions of what a valuable social media marketing campaign involves are completely off.

    You use social media to build trust in your brand and drive traffic to your services / products pages by sharing content that people want to share with their friends. It's about using the power of social media to drive word of mouth advertising.

    You measure ROI using referral tags hitting very specific landing pages in combination with data from site analytical tools. It's really not that hard.

  2. In addition to my previous comment, as I imagine you don't get much standard traffic. I found your site through article I found on twitter.

    Maybe you had some valuable service to offer I would have signed up for it..

    Now tell me it doesn't work?

  3. Dear "Anonymous": Ahhhhh.... Here's a few salient points for you, my young "Social Marketing" cheerleader!

    1. Check the date. In today's instantaneous tweet environment many people think if it can be found online, it's current. This post was written almost THREE YEARS AGO! In today's fast-adapting world that's like a couple of decades and even the blatantly clueless cheerleaders from back in 2009 have now figured out some valuable ways to augment their campaigns through social media 'pull' tactics.

    2. If you were really so savvy about how to leverage online chatter to your own personal/company brand's advantage, wouldn't you have figured out how to tag your brand to your comments out in the ether? I use these posts NOT to win myself 'friends' and 'followers' (an entirely pointless endeavour unless you can 'get traction', and that takes either far more time/effort than I have available, or money), but rather to bolster my personal brand by having the track record of dated points of view self-published online to back up my "valuable service", my consulting. I really don't have any interest in you 'signing up' for my services, per se.

    3. As we're seeing with Facebook's stock value today, smarter minds than ours are figuring out my simple, oft-repeated opinion: anything labelled 'social' is not an appropriate medium for push marketing, but merely for pull (formerly called PR). Facebook and Twitter, at a core, base-platform strategic level, are news services based upon individual egos, first and foremost. Yes, I enjoy interacting with friends and colleagues through debates about issues through theses services and getting the occasional insight from strangers, but over time, as their novelty wears off, they are not likely to be platforms for making money, or placing advertising. What they are, as productivity figures for people who addictively check them all day at work bear out, is time-wasters extraordinaire! There is EXTREMELY little value that employers get out of their employees using these two sites. Now there are new work-related services coming out that have learned what might make the social models of these early experiments work in the workplace to enhance productivity and insights on the job, but that merely means that Twitter and FB were merely excellent evolutionary stages in getting to something worthwhile. ;-)



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