Update: an insightful take on the future of social media for marketing, c/o Sydney, Australia’s Ganador Management Solutions.
Social media versus traditional marketing communications? Gentlemen, please choose your weapons.
It’s always good to see some healthy debate about one theory or another – in any field; but it’s such a long time since I’ve seen a blog post comment so overflowing with vitriol that I thought it was worth a closer look (see comment 2 in the link).
The thrust of the comment – made by a Jacob Wright in response to the Econsultancy post and the preceding video film all about social media – is summed up by the phrase he plunders from Jerry Maguire: “Show us the money”. In short, where’s your cast iron proof that social media marketing works? And he’s got a point. Amid all this wonderful engagement stuff, is anyone spending one more euro, yen, buck or pound on anything thanks to social media?
But, unfortunately, there’s a priggishness that creeps into his argument that suggests social media advocates are merely Johnny-come-latelies who haven’t got the grey matter to grasp traditional marketing, and should do so before they herald its successor. Now, before traditional marketing advocates/social marketing haters rubbish the new kid in town, they have to admit one thing: that for every great piece of marketing activity undertaken, there’s a great big dud consigned to the marketing dustbin of history. That’s life, and all the “straw men” that go with it.
Mr Wright demands engagement with “WHAT MAKES PEOPLE BUY STUFF” (I wish people wouldn’t shout in type; I fear for their blood pressure). OK, so let’s engage ME.
I’m a reluctant shopper, full stop; a shopper of necessity, ie., when the trousers are ready to split. So, in theory, I’m looking for the fastest route to making a purchase; one which barely engages the part of the brain labelled “shopping”. So, when I needed a way of carrying money abroad last holiday, what did I do?
1. Launched Google.
2. Found news sites recommending travel credit cards (the most prominent being a Santander card and a Thomas Cook cash passport).
3. Sought online reviews where I’d get punters’ views.
4. Found nothing on Santander (already I’m worried) and a few discussions about the Thomas Cook card, with mixed reviews.
5. Picked up a leaflet and went for the latter, as it felt like the least terrifying option, despite the mixed messages I was getting online.
It’s risky treating oneself as a case study, but for someone disinterested in buying stuff, I certainly spent time circumnavigating the traditional marketing communications effort to get at the truth before making up my mind. So, Thomas Cook won my business because I trusted real people’s views more than I trust it as a commercial entity. However, if Thomas Cook had been engaging in the same forums and clarifying some of the conflicting experiences of its cash passport users, how many other cautious customers could they harness?
So, while the Jacob Wrights get hernias about metrics (and they count, don’t get me wrong) the customer is out there making purchasing choices with the help of social media.
Olivier Blanchard seems to get the balance right with his insight into proving that social works by looking at its effect on “transactional prescursors” – a lofty phrase for the stuff you do before you buy, I think – and so being able to measure and track its true value in marketing terms.
But also, as The Guardian just revealed, the BBC has a team of reporters dedicated to trawling the social web looking for stories. And if your organisation is engaging in those places, who’s to say these online networking natives aren’t going to find something valuable and NEWSWORTHY (now I’m shouting) in what you’re doing.
Just as the talkies didn’t kill cinema and TV didn’t kill radio, it’s far fetched to think that social media marketing will deal a killer blow to the establishment.
Put your weapons away, gentlemen; there’s room for everyone.
Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.