Last year, I wrote a post in response to Jonathan Salem Baskin, taking exception to his notion that Social Media could be dangerous for companies. (I actually agreed with him on many counts).
This time – in my opinion – Mr. Baskin nailed it. Every company has been jumping on the social media bandwagon, increasing marketing spend in that arena, but few are seeing the returns they had hoped for.
Burger King has grilled through a couple of CMOs and fired agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky after producing Facebook campaigns and viral videos that got lots of attention while the business witnessed six consecutive quarters of declining sales. via AdAge
At conferences and with colleagues, I've challenged them on numerous occasions to provide me with irrefutable evidence that social media campaigns can be carefully designed, planned and executed with an expected return on investment. The key here is expected… I can set expectations from email, pay per click and search engine optimization campaigns over time… but never social. We've not uncovered the magic algorithm to tap into the social psychy yet.
It's not that I don't believe there's value in social media… I do. But I think there are two key elements of leveraging social media effectively:
- The company wishing to leverage social must already be social! Inviting everyone to a conversation and then not responding, hiding, or trying to spin the response can do more harm than good. Many, if not all, of the successful social media campaigns that pundits write about belong to companies that were already social… before the mediums ever hit.
- The company wishing to leverage social must have an effective online marketing strategy already in place. That is, they should have great sites, solid blogs, high converting landing pages, great search engine authority and an effective nurturing email strategy.
If you're trying to leverage social media before you're effectively utilizing, for example, a nurturing program to close leads that you've already developed a relationship and who are subscribed to you… you're simply nuts. It's much easier to close business off of established relationships than to throw some fancy, expensive application up on Facebook and expect a better response and return on investment! (Dueling chickens didn't help sell burgers.)
I believe that social media is an amplifier. When you want to amplify a message – you must first have a relevant message, an audience to distribute it to, and a location for those listeners to come. Get all of your other branding, inbound marketing, search engine optimization, and even corporate blogging in place before you start throwing money at an expanded social media program!
I don't believe social media is dead as a marketing strategy… I just think it's always been misdirected as a center of a strategy when it should not be.