There have been glaring headlines about large brands dumping their marketing teams or their marketing agencies to move to social media. There have been naysayers that show how few marketers are able to determine an ROI on their marketing budget or even track the path from social media to increased revenue.
While I was eager to jump on the social networks to see what they were about, after three years of trying to understand its value in the marketing mix, personally I have gotten weary. The amount of clutter of large numbers of Facebook posts, tweets, and blog posts, leaves my mind spinning in trying to keep up.
On the business side of my brain, I read social media gurus espousing the virtues. I hear about authors writing books saying traditional media is dead. Then, I find data that contradicts how much consumers are engaging with brands through social media.
What to believe? Consider your own use of social media. Are you addicted still to seeing what is happening with your Facebook friends every time your phone beeps or you see a change on your wall? Have you grown weary of how your friends never post anything or how some have never asked you to be friends on Facebook? Do you find the constant Twitter feed has become a distraction and making you more ADD?
It was shocking when my teenage daughter announced she was going to deactivate her Facebook account. Three of her soccer teammates had already done it. These were active users, commenting on each other’s posts, putting up photos and tagging each other. Now the comment is, “I don’t know if she has a Facebook account any more.”
One recent article on IOL Scitech that was interesting cited a study about Facebook that even though the number of visits continues to grow, it has reached saturation among active internet users. According to GlobalWebIndex’s study, user growth was found in growing internet markets such as India, Indonesia and Brazil.
They stated, “More importantly across three waves of research in 2011, Facebook users on a global basis have reduced the frequency of key Facebook activities, including sending a digital present, searching for new contacts or sending messages to friends.”
The article went on to say, “Latest data shows Facebook fatigue spreading in the US from the early adopters who were identified in previous research less than a year ago as ‘disengaging.'”
As a marketing consultant, what’s my take on it?
It’s all about your overall marketing strategy to support corporate goals. Need revenue for the bottom line? This requires getting in front of the targets by cutting through the clutter. Using the most direct mediums like e-marketing, direct mail, and the website are more likely to enhance business from existing customers/members. There is still tremendous value in tapping your database of existing profitable customers/members. Using a “soft” medium like Facebook or Twitter is still a question mark for direct results. It’s like trying to sell something to two friends talking over a fence. When you jump into a conversation, like the flow on a Facebook wall, it cannot be about selling something. (How many brands have you “liked” for a contest or special offer, then “unliked” because their posts were so annoying in your news feed?)
Need to find more prospects? Using mediums that get in front of the target markets still gets eyeballs such as television. There still is a word-of-mouth factor from your existing customers/members. If they believe you have a “good deal” then they will tell others. Online ads targeted in your market can at least get your brand shown in a Google search, yet it might not make the first search results page. Also, if there is budget to use the social networks, it’s worth trying.
Overall, it’s about a blend of all the mediums like e-marketing, direct mail, web ads, broadcast/print media, and social networks to build relationships that are profitable. There must be a strategy for having all the mediums you use represent the same brand message with good quality content.