Brace for the Backlash

Bruce McArthur Marketing, Social Media, Social Networks

Social media marketing is going to get a bad rap. Look at these stats from the Harvard Business Review Analytics Service:
  • Just 12% of the companies using social media believed they are currently using it effectively.
  • 75% of the companies surveyed said they didn’t know where their customers were talking about them online.
  • 31% said they don’t measure the effectiveness of social media.
These are companies currently using social media for their marketing.

How can so many get something so wrong?

Here comes the backlash. 

The question becomes…Why isn’t it working (for them)?

Perhaps it involves time.  In traditional broadcast media, time is measured in seconds; a 30 second commercial, a 120 second direct response spot. In social media, time is measured in hours, as in how many hours should we invest in social media to engage and create customers?

The answer is…there is no cut and dried number. Engagement is an ongoing process. Engagement requires conversations, conversations require time; it doesn’t end. When it does, social media stops being social. The result? See the first bullet point above.

Another social media strength, and one very few marketers seem to take advantage of is search. When you think of Twitter, do you think of 140 characters or do you think “Wow, let’s use Twitter to find out who’s talking about us?” How many companies, believing they are using social media have registered on, and use, friendfeed, Google Alerts, Hootsuite, Tweetadder or any number of other tools available to help make search valuable? My guess is at most, 25% (see bullet point #2 above).

Finally, how does anyone begin a marketing initiative, whether it be social or not, without defined metrics for success? Without it, how can anyone conclude if it is working or not? And if you don’t know if it is working, how do you know if you need to tweak it? If one in three companies (bullet point 3 above) don’t know if it is working, how can those companies come to any conclusion but that it isn’t working? This is inexcusable.

Most companies who enter the realm of social media marketing, even those with the best of intentions, find staying with it difficult. There are just too many other things to do. If you’re not in a position to hire a social marketing expert internally, consider hiring an outside firm to help. The investment will be worthwhile. 

When done right, social media marketing works. It takes focus, organization, commitment to a strategy, fresh engaging content and time.