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The Social Media Party’s Over…

We know the hype marketing departments have been peddling about having an active presence on Facebook and Twitter over the past 5 years. In a way who can blame them as this was the new ‘big thing’ dressed up as an easy way to attract consumers. You just needed an image, a catchy title and some copy from last years through the line campaign and aim it at A, B, C1 twenty somethings. In essence this offered brand managers an easy way out by offering tangible metrics of ‘likes’ and ‘visits’ at their end of year review.

And you can see why. The latest official figures tell us that Facebook is used by 1 in every 13 people on Earth, with over 250 million of them (over 50%) logging in every day. The average user has about 130 friends and the core 18-24 year old segment is now growing the fastest at 74% year on year. Almost 72% of all US internet users are on now Facebook, while 70% of the entire user base is located outside of the US.

And still I ask ‘what is the ROI in sales terms for all this effort and advertising cost?’ To which I get the standard reply that the approach is ‘holistic’ and more ‘cost effective’ then traditional advertising mediums. We have seen the emerging trends from Comscore  who report that 31% of Facebook Ads are never seen, which will be further compounded by the increased adoption of mobile users. We also see that ad engagement rates fell by 8% in the past 6 months while advertising costs grew by 41% as reported in the Blog Herald.

Digital inflation
Ah, ha.. so we see that Digital Inflation has finally arrived, which means social media platforms want more of your money for far less activity! Yet marketeers still insist that we need to be on there or brands will lose out. To me these arguments are simply stating the fact that the new digital marketeer generation have no idea how to connect with consumers. I wonder how many could tell me what the 6 P’s stand for? While for all you seasoned FMCG Pro’s we know through experience that it’s actually the 8P’s that matter most. The lesson here is that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

My fear is that we have forgotten how to connect with consumers in the recent digital gold rush. Do you remember visiting your local supermarket and a person would offer you something to eat or drink? It was in your hand along with a light verbal summary of the product’s features and benefits. You could taste it and have an opinion there and then as to wether it would make it into your shopping basket. It became an impulse purchase and hopefully thereafter a planned purchase which over time would pay for the sampling campaign in the first place. Of course the newly converted would tell their 5 closest friends about your product and they would all rush out to buy it. Success.

A thinking game
You see I believe this is the key. Marketeers always had a tough job, they were expected to correctly understand the value proposition of a brand and segment who is most likely to engage with it. Then they had to find those target consumers and persuade them their brand was a better option. Consumers also had to work hard for a chance to win free tickets to next years music festival by filling in a form, now its a simple click or scan and the whole process is forgotten in seconds. In essence marketing used to be a thinking game with no right answers, lots of arguing for budgets, receiving bewildered glances from sales mangers and defending creative decisions at the end of each financial quarter. To me a good marketeer was light on their feet, free thinking, sometimes radical but always commercial.

The traditional marketeer as opposed to the digital marketeer, is a far weightier asset because they understand that persuasive active engagement is King which is something that simply cannot be measured in ‘likes’. Yes, marketing departments have become lazy because online platforms promised so much, so easily. Now it’s time to get out those brand plans from 2006 and identify meaningful ways of connecting with and engaging consumers once more without mentioning the words ‘social media platform’.


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8 Responses to The Social Media Party’s Over…

  1. hongkongflowersdelivery June 21, 2012 at 4:22 am #

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  2. Ron Immink June 21, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Hi Liam,

    I wrote about it a while ago (and not as eloquent as you). Agree with a lot you are saying 

  3. Danny O Brien June 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi Liam

    Im currently doing my thesis on social media from a small business perspective and a lot of what you say is really interesting. There seemed to be a huge rush to use these sites cause everyone else was using it. Off the top of my head there are three business examples I can think of and from different ends of the spectrum its the sector their in that determines social medias usefulness.

  4. Trace Anderson June 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Excellent Article!. This has been one of the better articles I have read in sometime. No one is taking the time to do some real marketing! understanding customers’ needs and expectations and employing strategies consistent along those lines. We have such  a tremendous opportunity to create such an impact as technology has provided us with so much. We chose to become lazy and money driven. Not realizing what that we’re simply losing the respect and trust of customers.

    I couldn’t have written this article any better if I wanted to. Great job!  

  5. The Avoca June 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    This is really good, enjoyed the points you made. Well done

  6. November 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    I completely agree, social media should only be a small part of the mix, not the be-all and end-all. We were shocked at how little it gave us when we actually measured it. This was one of the items discussed at the Business Achievers Award launch in Galway a couple of weeks ago. The backlash has begun I think.

  7. Adam Turner November 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    The problem isn’t that digital marketing cannot be effective; it’s that most people
    don’t know how to use it effectively – sadly including many marketers.

    Part of this is a non-understanding of the shift from outbound to inbound marketing (as seen in your article).

    Also I would fire any digital marketer who measures success solely in “likes”, especially when it is fully possible to attribute ROI to digital marketing.

    Overall, from reading this article I don’t think your fear is that “we have forgotten how to connect with consumers”, but that a younger generation of marketers are coming up with a better understanding of digital, and that might make your skills more redundant.

    What better way to fight this than by writing scare-mongering, slanderous and misleading articles about the new generation of marketers and their “crazy” ideas for people who don’t know any better?…


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