atom thought
atom thought

Underestimating social media

08 Sep 2011
By Jamie

We have all heard about how social media is an incredibly powerful tool that has revolutionised the way companies market their products, with the ability to target campaigns at specific customers based on quantitative research and analysis, as well as individual desires.

But you all knew that already didn’t you? Well, it seems that there are some marketing professionals out there who still haven’t acknowledged that social media is an important marketing channel and either don’t ‘get’ it or refuse to accept that it is here to stay.

A recent article in The Telegraph reported on this issue, blaming the ’40-year-old marketing directors’ for being out of touch with modern marketing methods, having not carried on an education in maths past the age of sixteen or been trained in the profession during the digital age.

Whilst this seems a wild generalisation, and I’m sure there are many forty-plus marketers out there who are perfectly adept with digital, it does go to show that social media marketing isn’t as obvious to everyone as we might think. The article also suggests that even when large companies do employ someone to manage online marketing, they do not listen to suggestions made, despite the potential for substantial profit gains.

Why it’s important

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others have a broad reach and allow information to be shared between millions of people in a matter of seconds. Aside from the ability to place targeted adverts, the power of word-of-mouth and customer feedback is huge.

A bad experience with a product or business can be expressed to the world very easily. Similarly, many businesses know that they can put across a good image of their company or brands and be visible to many relevant users. Yet, is there some sense in the conservative approach to social media by some marketing professionals?

Is social media going to overtake television in terms of marketing power?

Whilst there is sense in embracing social media and all of its offerings, we shouldn’t be too quick to claim that it is now the best way that businesses can market themselves. Another article in The Telegraph reports on research by Deloitte, who find that “A typical Briton…spends 118 hours watching TV each month and just 3.3 hours on social networks.”

Whilst social media marketing is more targeted, I can’t imagine that it is more than thirty-five times effective as television. The report also highlights that Pepsi decided to try moving from its usual television adverts during the US Super Bowl to a social media campaign, and are now choosing to switch back to television for next year’s event due to poor performance.

During my time at atom42 I have been performing client/competitor analysis, and have found myself making suggestions to implement online strategies which complement television campaigns to help build stronger brands. I feel that there is a greater sense of trust when someone uses a website where they recognise a character or theme that has been used in a television advert, and hence a greater possibility of conversion. In this way companies can build their brands by utilising both marketing channels together, rather than having them in competition, as Deloitte’s own research suggests.

The consequences of underestimating the power of social media

A good example of a manager underestimating social media was reported by Wired last week. A man running a poultry-keeping website tweeted: “A bet with my boss. He says Twitter is a waste of time. He will give 50p per RT I get but I give him £10 if I don’t get 10…”. This received approximately 22,000 re-tweets, but alas the boss backed away from the bet – having learnt a valuable lesson I should imagine. It is stories like this, as well as that of Google making $55,000 revenue in eleven minutes through Twitter, that showcase just how effective social media is.

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