social media marketing

Most of us believe in social media marketing. We understand its unique ability to engage, connect and transform. We worship daily at the altars of social media marketers, HubSpot and Social Media Examiner and Jay Baer.

However, I have a confession. Sometimes my faith is shaken to its core. Every now and then I wonder if we’re just unwitting characters in a social media version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, too afraid to speak up about what we don’t see.

Consider the following findings that’ll help social media marketers. While some are a few years old, until further evidence comes along, it’s hopeful at best to say things have radically changed.

1. Only 7% of companies say their firms understand the exact value at stake from creating and maintaining websites and social media. (2C Development Group). Businesses spend billions on social media marketing each year. Yet only seven in every 100 companies seem to know exactly why. That’s staggering.

2. One in three online reviews is fake. (NY Times) Social media enables us to see what others think about a restaurant, book, movie and the like. These reviews drive decisions, and honest companies rely on them to know where they stand with their customers. However, there’s no way to know if a review was written by the company itself, by a customer who accepted a merchant kickback for his five-star take, or by a review-generating firm hired by the company.

3. A mere 30% of B2B marketers who use Facebook view it as effective. (FlipCreator) A healthy 81% of B2B marketers use Facebook. Yet only three out of 10 of them think it’s doing them any good.

4. Only 8% of internet users are responsible for 85% of clicks on display ads.
(comScore) We all know CTRs have dropped since the inception of click-throughs, but this speaks to a larger problem. And speaking of display ads…

5. More than half of online display ads appear on parts of a web page that are not viewable. (Google). According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an online display ad is considered “viewable” if you can see at least half of it for at least one second. Worse yet, the IAB has opined that 100% viewability isn’t possible right now; the industry should set its sights on 70%.

6. Posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter reach just 2% of their followers. (Forrester) Keep in mind this is followers, not new customers. That means these brands are basically preaching to the choir. And if that’s not bad enough, only .07% of those followers actually interact with those posts.

7. Emails are 40 times more effective in acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.
(McKinsey). Let’s face it. Emails aren’t sexy. They have been pushed to the back burner as companies focus on more trendy ways to go after new customers. However, if you think this statement is worrisome given our love affair with Facebook and Twitter, consider the next one.

8. Emails prompt purchases three times more often than social media does. (McKinsey) And get this. The average value of an email order is 17% higher than purchases made on Facebook and Twitter.

There are plenty of other stats like these out there. They all beg the question: Are we simply talking to ourselves? Are we too busy fawning over how beautiful this baby we call social media marketing is while ignoring how well (or not) it’s doing? Are we too eager to make the everybody’s-doing-it pitch to clients and too hesitant or ignorant or lazy or indifferent to prove why it’s worth doing?

I don’t know. What I do know is that social media marketing platforms have had it good lately. Spending has skyrocketed. This year alone companies will shell out more than $8 billion. And yet, in a survey of 328 marketing professionals, 79% of them said their two biggest obstacles are measuring online social media and demonstrating return on investment. What do you say social media marketers?

Translation: we need ammunition. Show us solid ROI figures and other metrics we can use to justify our spending recommendations. Otherwise, corporate America’s love affair with social media marketing could come to an abrupt end.

Frank Cespedes, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, thinks the honeymoon has lasted much too long. Here’s what he wrote in the March Harvard Business Review.

When it comes to business, we talk too much about social media and expect too little. It’s like the old joke about sales people: one person says ‘I made some valuable contacts today,’ and the other responds ‘I didn’t get any orders, either.’ Companies measure the market results of their sales investments. But few have measures or even have accountable managers in place for their social media investments.”

 

Rhonda Serkes offers one-on-one instruction and corporate seminars on the power of Twitter. Known as “The Twitter Lady” in the Philadelphia area, she is also available for online instruction. For rates and availabilities, email Rhonda or call (610) 668-3020.