Social Media’s Epic Marketing Failure

Lawyers love social mediaLet’s be honest about social media.  It’s a great tool for people to talk to each other.  Lawyers and police love it for the great trail of data it leaves when they are putting their cases together for prosecution.  Marketers love it because its low or no cost.  They think they are doing something when they use social media.

As a news outlet, it is not much better than the “telephone” game we used to play as a kid.  As a marketing venue, it certainly does a good job of reaching the already converted and committed.

But social media’s marketing failure is much greater than its news failure.  It diverts resources that could be used to help a business grow.  It counts things that don’t matter at the risk of those that do.

Most of all, it violates one of the tenants of all marketing.

It doesn’t get attention.

Remember, attention, interest, desire, action?  AIDA.  The description of how people move through a marketing channel has changed little in the past 100 years.  McKinney tried to “reinvent” the funnel by suggesting it was a “trigger” that began a marketing feedback loop.

Then again, while the entire world of ad agencies and the millions of “social media experts and agencies” subscribe to the idea “if you can’t count it, it doesn’t matter,” the economy continues to swoon.  While the idea of counting is absolutely a correct idea, lets count what matters–like revenue and cash flow.

Businesses stop focusing on sales and revenue and focus on tweets and likes at their own peril.  The fatal flaw of social media marketing is not the distraction it has become.  A recent research study indicates 61% of small businesses have seen NO improvement in their sales from social media marketing.

The fatal flaw is the violation of the marketing paradigm.  Social media, except in those cases where something “goes viral” doesn’t get attention.  If I don’t know you exist, how do I know to look for you.  Maybe my friends will tell me about it if you are that remarkable.  Chances are they won’t. My friend Scott McKain has written a new book called Create Distinction that is a must read.

Mainstream media has an advantage in one crucial area–it interrupts and grabs attention.  Without attention, getting someone to buy your product becomes an exceptionally difficult thing to do.

Much of what’s called social media marketing today is really content marketing by another name.  If you “write it, produce it, create it,” they will come is just as much a fallacy today as it ever was.

 

 

Social Media Marketing Fails to Work

businesses focusing on social media marketing are going out of businessSocial media marketing violates a major marketing model–which is why it fails to work in many cases.

I’m sure there are people in the group who will write chapter and verse about the benefits of SMM.  There are studies showing how it works, how much it generates, ROI, etc.

One of the big questions I have is its ability to gather attention, the first principle of AIDA.  If you don’t have a market presence to start with, social media seems unlikely to me to generate it.

Viral Marketing is Different

Certainly, if you can generate a viral buzz or meme using SMM, you are gathering attention.  When everyone is trying to create the next big thing (sorry Samsung), when do you get above the noise?  When and how do people who don’t know about your product or service find you?

The internet has become a non stop cacophony of exactly the kind of marketing people want to avoid–interruption marketing.  Look at the number of pages whose video players are set to auto play.  Add to the noise the delayed flash pop ups, fly ins, roll overs, hovers and so forth and you have a medium that is way noisier and more full of crappy unrelated content than any TV, radio station, FSI, or fashion magazine.

Marketing by Word of Mouth

How is social media marketing different?  Other than its cheap.

In the old days of Mad Men ad agencies,  three martini lunches, and expensive compelling creative only we cared about, social media marketing was called something different.

It was “word of mouth”.  To the degree brands believe they can control the thoughts and actions of people who use or diss their products is the level at which they delude themselves.

 

Marketing Jargon Kills

marketing jargon kills media in BillingsI was reading a 67 page guide “How To Be in the Internet Marketing Business” or some such thing the other day and it hit me just how much jargon there is in marketing and advertising.

For those of us working as professional marketers, it seems to spew from us like so many negative television ads during this election campaign.  Endless and non stop.

Why the Marketing Jargon?

So why do we do that?  While talking with two different clients in the past week, I was rolling along talking about 30’s and 60’s.  I went on to talk about how we could use that time to gain attention and help people learn more about their products.  In this case, both of these people were running for office in Montana.

Neither understood a word I said.

One wasn’t even sure what the rates for an ad were after I explained them.

Marketing is full of jargon like CPP, CPM, CPC, SEO, CTR, AQH, AQR TSE, TSL, and HUT among others. It is no wonder the idea of marketing a business or a product is scary to a lot of entrepreneur’s.  They don’t want to make the wrong choice.

Digital Media–Measuring and Applying Jargon to Marketing

Digital media has gained traction because of its ability to translate something that is generally unmeasurable into something that might be measurable.  Add to the digital media pros bag of tricks a never ending litany of jargon and a few success stories and you have the recipe for the hottest, newest kid on the block.  Besides, who can argue with a success rate of .0026% CTR? (why would you even measure that?)

Add the millions of books and guides and a low barrier to digital entry and you have the recipe for even more confusing material in the marketplace.  As best I can tell, you can claim you are a digital expert just a few weeks after leaving animal obedience training school.  The confused stories I hear from business people who want to use social media to market their businesses would be funny if it weren’t so sad.  (“let me ask my son in law, he’s on Facebook all the time.”)

Jargon-less Marketing

Media like television, radio, billboards, and even print to some degree have to understand that people don’t understand the words they use.  The jargon doesn’t work. When people are confused, they don’t do anything.

If you have a company who needs to market, don’t let the jargon scare you.  Force your media person to talk to you about what you care about–leads, traffic, prospects, or potential buyers.  Marketing your business today is the battle to get noticed in a time of a high level of noise.

Let them save the jargon for Alpha Bits cereal.