Social media is overhyped.
There, I said it. Now, before you dismiss me as a crackpot and start firing off the comments that attempt to make me look like the fool for taking this stand…consider the following.
“There is a near consensus that social media marketing is valuable because it allows companies to directly engage with their customers, build brand presence, and ultimately sell more products.” Source: Downloaded from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kylewong/2014/05/13/what-is-the-value-of-social-media-engagement/ on 10/10/14.
There might be “near consensus” but there just isn’t any tangible proof.
“A clear majority of Americans say social media have no effect at all on their purchasing decisions.” (Source: Downloaded from http://www.gallup.com/poll/171785/americans-say-social-media-little-effect-buying-decisions.aspx on 10/10/14).
What?! How can this be?
Could it be because Americans use social media for something other than ‘engaging with companies’ and buying stuff?
“Not surprisingly, an overwhelming 94% of social media users say they use these channels to connect with friends and family, illustrating the primary need that social media fulfill. Far less, 29%, say they use social media to follow trends and find product reviews and information, while 20% say they visit social networking sites to comment on what’s new or write product reviews.” (Source: Downloaded from http://www.gallup.com/poll/171785/americans-say-social-media-little-effect-buying-decisions.aspx on 10/10/14).
“Social media is taking up a bigger portion of marketing budgets, but few companies said they have been able to quantitatively measure its impact.” Source: Downloaded from http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2014/09/03/social-media-spending-is-on-the-rise-but-impact-is-hard-to-measure/ on 10/10/14.
Or let’s take this point a little deeper with some additional facts and figures…
“The study, which is based on responses from 351 top marketing executives, found that spending on digital marketing broadly is expected to jump 11% in the next year while traditional advertising budgets are expected to contract 3.6%.
Despite the increasing investment in social media, it’s still difficult for marketers to quantify their return on investment. Only 15% of marketers in the study said they can show the impact of social media on their businesses using quantitative approaches, while 40% of marketers can only demonstrate the impact qualitatively. Nearly half of marketers said they haven’t been able to demonstrate the impact of social media spending on their business at all.” Source: Downloaded from http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2014/09/03/social-media-spending-is-on-the-rise-but-impact-is-hard-to-measure/ on 10/10/14.
What’s all this mean then?
Look, I am not suggesting social media doesn’t have potential…I’m saying that at this point in time, social media is a mystery to us. We think it has potential but we haven’t figured out how to turn it into a profitable reality.
And as marketers our job is to help the organization develop more effective ways to attract and retain profitable customers so that the organization hits its goals and objectives for growth.
So instead of chasing the shiny new object (which isn’t all that shiny anymore), we should be investing the budget in activities that we can track and measure. And then we can test social media, learn and become more comfortable with it. If and when you get to a point where you know how it works and are able to generate stronger ROI than other tactics…shift the budget over and pull in the profitable revenue.
But until then, do a better job of managing the budget.