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Social media’s white noise

At the risk of being called a Luddite at best, and a heretic at worst, I have spent a bit of time over the past few months trying to understand the business case for social media – and failing.

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Belmont
Tim, your article seems to be a little confused about the topic it is addressing. Is it addressing social media marketing or simply online advertising? You keep mentioning social media advertising and I can only assume by this you mean a paid advertisement on some of the social media platforms as opposed to other online platforms. Social media marketing on the other hand is a much broader topic of which direct paid advertising on social media platforms is only a small part. Most of the social media platforms are still struggling with ways to monetise their platforms and the success, or lack thereof, of campaigns reflects this. As the consumer becomes more aware of marketing and better informed on products marketing and advertising has to become more sophisticated. That's not to say that consumers can no longer be influenced and manipulated - they can be, but the marketeer has to take a much more holistic approach to their marketing mix. Social media marketing is very much a part of this and has been used very successfully by many companies. However it is not simply a case of the more money you throw at it the better the results. It is not always necessary to spend big, but as as always spend smart.

Coffey & Tea
I totally agree with you Adam. Social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It is about brand awareness - people might not mention that the social platform influenced the direct purchase yet it is social that made them comfortable with the idea of the purchase in the first place. Social media advertising can be a total waste of money if it is not done strategically and targeted; but when it is done correctly, it can do wonders for your brand. Yes people can buy likes. But what's the point? Why would you waste money on people you know will never engage with your brand? Is it only to satisfy ego? Tim, your article is a bit all over the place. I'm more than happy to give you numerous business cases of where social media directly influences the bottom line - both positively and negatively. I'm shocked you've been unable to find one yourself.

Perth
People polled always say "advertising does not affect me!" and almost in the same breath "but I agree it affects others!"... and so the Gallup poll is not surprising; results like these have been published since the dawn of the golden era of advertising around 1960 (think 'Mad Men'). Certainly, there is often scepticism (if not a little fear) of anything new, and I was in that camp a few years ago as regards social media (or Web 2.0 as it was called then). But I’ve come to see its power, if used well, and now cannot consider doing business without it. If 1.2 million folks in WA are on Facebook, and half go every day, then it’s a place businesses cannot ignore. That’s not to say you agree with everything stupid that gets posted; Facebook reflects us, or rather your newsfeed reflects your ‘friends’. (Hint: unfriend!). Social media is the global water cooler conversation, and if used well, then businesses can indeed gather great results, and yes can have success from advertising there. Online marketing allows the advertiser to follow people as they engage on social media and elsewhere, measure activity and watch them through the purchasing. We can examine the online behaviours of those that buy, and those that don’t. Data provided allows an incredible insight into consumer behaviour, and how to drive value for business. Ignore it, and let others prosper – that is your right, but please don’t dismiss it without serious thought.

Forrest Personnel
Agree with all the comments so far. In short, social media is about building interconnecting relationships among like-minded people and organisations; whereas advertising is about selling or spruiking. Two very different outcomes requiring their own strategies. If my work colleague or neighbour starts selling a random widget to me I am probably not going to be interested, but if they engage with me to build a relationship they will get my attention if we find some common ground.

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