As Social Media Takes Off, Most Marketers Get it Wrong

Most progressive marketers seem to understand the importance of social media by now.  If they don’t, a new report by eMarketer suggests that they need to, and fast.  According to the report by Strategy Analytics, more than one billion broadband users will be on social media applications by 2012, which is only 5 years from now.  That’s quite an increase from 2007’s paltry 373 million.

Social Media Users 2007-2012 The report goes on to say that U.S. users of social networks in particular (as opposed to global users of all social media applications) are also growing quickly.

Currently, 38% of all U.S. Internet users (over age 3) will use social networking in the last month.  That’s 78 million folks.  In this country.  Wow.

But as head of a social media agency, I’m left to puzzle over how so many marketers are getting it wrong when it comes to engaging in the social media landscape.

The eMarketer report talks all about advertising on social media properties.  That’s very important to the long term viability of Facebook, et al, but it’s missing the forest for the trees.  We’ve written before about whether Facebook will ever be viable to the point of justifying their huge valuations.  (And I’m personally pretty skeptical.)

If we had 78 million potential customers sitting in our lobby each month, would our answer be to hang an ad in the lobby?  If we had 1 billion potential customers walking around outside our offices, many of whom wanted to talk about what we do, would we drop press releases out the window?  (I suspect some CMOs would, actually, as Pavlovian conditioning is very strong…)

Social media’s future is bright.  These statistics are pretty compelling.  What marketers have to figure out is how to engage with this opportunity, in addition to advertise to it.  It’s affordable.  It’s just really strange at first.  Hopefully these 50%-plus annual growth rates will convince more folks to try…

Ok, off the soapbox (for now).

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2 Comments
  • bhanu
    Posted at 11:57h, 03 June

    Hi. Jib. I don’t know but i have suggesting social media to my clients in India, but they all seem to be very skeptical about the approach. Moreover, before looking at social media strategies, they ask for campaign ideas.

    One of my client FORD, has already set their resources, they have created all necessary platforms in the name of FORD APA. They also want to use it for India centric. Moreover, they believe in controlled messaging. So they are not open to trust building ideas and only look for curiosity & teaser building activities.

    We even suggested some ideas, but they somehow contradict every idea of ours. May be just b’coz they already have a digital expert who takes care of their activities.

    My only concern is how can we tackle clients like this ? This is my second comment and a query, for some reason you never answered my queries, but still trying my luck.. 🙂

  • Jim Tobin
    Posted at 12:59h, 03 June

    Hi Bhanu,

    It sounds to me that your clients don’t understand the basic concept of it, so what you’re describing to them doesn’t resonate. I suspect they doubt the ROI of it, and a lot of folks fear losing control.

    I would either try another client and demonstrate proof of concept with someone with a more progressive outlook. Or I would suggest a campaign that is more safe than optimal. Help them get their toe in the water without getting over their head. Show them small successes and then move them along a continuum rather than going for the perfect campaign from day one.

    I hope that helps. I don’t spend much time trying to convince people to get involved. Since all we do is social media marketing, they contact us when they’ve started thinking about it.

    Good luck.

    ~jim

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