Social Media Statistics – How well does it work for brands?

A study conducted by WorkPlace Media is out, showing the results of polls to find out how successful Social Media Marketing campaigns have been, and how users have responded to them.

The findings aren’t terribly pretty for Social Media Marketing, with the essentials boiled down to this:

  • Few people access social media sites at work.
  • Hardly anyone polled thinks less of a company for not having a social media presence.
  • Only 4% of respondants access their profiles all day.
  • Only 11% follow any company brand via social media.

I won’t quibble with these findings, though 753 does seem like a slightly small pool considering the vast number of people who use Facebook.

Instead I say yes, absolutely, I wholeheartedly believe these results, and I think they show the clearest reason people need to re-think how they approach social media marketing. They do not need to abandon it, mind you – because it is still where everyone is going when they are on line, and the best opportunity to find customers and brand champions. If you look at how few people care about a company’s brand or how little time they spend on social sites at work, and as a result throw up your hands in defeat, you aren’t getting it.

Social media is a new medium, and so the thinking about how to reach people on it must shift too. Think about television advertising. Here’s an add from the 1950s for Ford:

You can see where the makers of this commercial learned from their previous experience. The woman speaking about her family’s cars is the same scripting that would have been done for a radio commercial. The narator at the end speaks the same copy that would have been included in Ford’s print ad. The only difference are the moving pictures, which don’t really help the product. Think about it – when he talks about “colors galore,” we’re looking at a black and white image of a car. When he talks about the style and design of the cars, we’re still looking at the same 3/4 shot of each car, which all look the same. To say nothing of the fact that it runs a minute and a half, which would cost more for additional airtime.

The same problem confronts us today with social media marketing and advertising, because we are saddled with the training and expectations that come from banners, or press releases, or even television. The idea that if we put up the campaign we will get more customers does work for most other models, but this is a different beast and we have to actually change our way of thinking for it to work. The findings of this study do not surprise me, because the companies that engage in social media marketing still do not look at it as something new that they need to learn first.

For starters, look at the quote from the study, that word-of-mouth is still more effective a means of messaging than social media. I read that, and then read the stat that Facebook was the most popular site among respondants. Facebook users on average have some 120 friends, most all of whom are already friends and family members.

To me, that suggests that Facebook would be an invaluable tool for generating word of mouth, by contacting users directly, and sharing with them offers or news or any valuable information they could pass on to their own network.

But this is not how Facebook is levereged these days. Instead, companies build Facebook Pages, the Facebook answer to giving a company a user-like profile, and they collect visitors and fans like points in a video game: A source pride, but otherwise not very meaningful.

Getting people to talk about you because you’ve talked to them is not going to be easy – I readily admit that. But all of the success I’ve ever had with clients who used social media to promote themselves only saw real success by using it this way. If Facebook Pages are supposed to give companies the opportunity to exist on Facebook like real live users, then they should use those profiles in the exact same way. I don’t know anyone who goes on Facebook for the express purpose of gaining 10,000 followers just for the sake of doing so. (There are a ton of people who act that way on Twitter, but that’s another story.) So to act like a user, one must make friends with people who like you back. Rather than relying on their wall to show their friends what you are posting, direct message some of your followers and ask them about what they like about your product, or what they expect from you. Make it intimate and friendly, and eventually you will have those kinds of fans who WILL spread your message by word of mouth.

Social Media marketing isn’t in trouble by any stretch of the imagination – it just needs to mature.

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