Now there's evidence to show that the clamor for marketing advantage is not so easy.
For the longest time, professionals in communication, public relations, and marketing have all been singing the praises of the social media. They've touted the promise of a firm's globbing on to all those places that people [read, consumers] are congregating: Facebook, My Space, Linked-In, Twitter--you name it--all in the name of being present where the marketplace is going. Of course, all this enthusiasm is simply a reflection of sellers' base ambition to get access to and, ideally, close to customers and prospective buyers.
On-line social media might be harder to game than expected.
I readily admit that for a while, now, I've been dragging my feet [Social media may not work very well to sell] on what is rapidly becoming a trite prescriptive marketing strategy, namely what seems to many to be such an obvious solution to media clutter: that social media is an easy, obvious, and presumably effective strategy for marketing and business success. Well, now there's evidence that suggests that the social media may not be the easy panacea that some are banking on.
In a recent report of a media study by Vivaldi Partners and Lightspeed Research, more than 60 firms and their customers were assessed in terms of brand affiliations, advocacy, and sense of social community in both on- and off-line media. The findings were enlightening:
Five points that make social media more formidable a marketing opportunity.
First, brand advocates trump followers--and being in one group or the other doesn't appear to happen without specific media strategies occurring. Simply having a presence in your favorite social site doesn't lead to all that wonderful a set of results--ask Starbucks versus Dunkin!
Second, the context of messaging--particularly in the social media--matters; posts, pages, and the activities they encourage or evoke [or don't!] seem to make the difference in consumer reactions and outcomes. Ask Bud if they'd do it all over again.
Third, not all brands may be destined to be social! It appears that some brand are serious, positioned on the basis of technical or functional superiority and, thus, may not be especially amenable to more frivolous hawking. For example, there evidence to suggest that Gillette has only threatened it premier position in the marketplace by doing dopey things with it's on-line strategies.
Fourth, social tools are a means--not an end--to getting the marketing-communication job done. It's not so important that a brand is in social media as much as what it does, says, or leads to, once it's there. Ask Clinique about that...then Axe.
Fifth, the trivalization of a brand is very possible, depending on what's done with the message in social media like contests, on line games, etc. Burger King was effectively out-maneuvered by Wendy's by basically doing on-line what was thought to be attention-grabbing and funny--but in the end demeaning to the position and imaging of the brand.
[You can read more about these findings an article in the recent issue of FastCompany in an article, "Five steps to social currency," by Ben Paynter.]
If your social media strategy isn't sophisticated, you may want to re-think it.
It seems that every time I turn around someone's wanting to talk about all the promise to--and of--marketing in the social media. It's time to admit that a lot of what is presently being done is lame or, at best, flat-footed. Like every other saturated media that business can choose from, marketers--and all their PR and advertising peeps--are going to find it as formidable a challenge to break-through the barriers to getting attention, buzz, share-of-mind, favorable word-of-mouth, and ultimately sales in social media as they have with everything else they've already turned to.
It's not fun to be the bearer of bad news, but it's got to be said! Social media and social network marketing means you don't do the same stuff you've done before all over again, now just in a different place!
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