As more and more brands race into social media it appears they’re bringing with them the exact same short-term mindset that they apply to advertising campaigns. I hear it all the time.
“If we do this (fill in the blank: Twitter, Facebook, blog, whatever) how many (fill in the blank: clicks, inquiries, sales, customers) will we get and how soon?
“Because we need it right away. Like tomorrow. Or next week. Otherwise we can’t sell it in.”
Despite all that’s been written, discussed and in many cases proven (thank you Blendtec, Zappos and Gary Vaynerchuk) regarding the long-term value of listening, engaging, building and mobilizing community, and engendering loyalty, lots of marketers still insist on applying the traditional advertising model to social media, demanding an instant correlation between spending and results.
For years, digital agencies have pointed out the shortcomings of advertising campaigns — they have to be repeated over and over to maintain visibility and impact — arguing instead for platforms that integrate into people’s lives.
Well people, social media is, in many ways, like a digital platform.
When it’s done right, if mirrors the tactics pioneered by none other than the Grateful Dead.
And it generates the same kind of lasting results. It produces an ongoing journey, allows the community to influence the experience, introduces like minded people to each other (a reason in and of itself to be part of a community) and rewards them in such a way that they want to invite their friends to come and join.
Consider all the press and pundits who’ve questioned the effectiveness of the recent “Hello Ladies,” campaign. (I wanted to write a post without saying the name of the brand behind it just to see if I could.) A gazillion views and all anyone can ask is, “Yeah, but did it sell more product?” In fact it did. But not because of the videos alone. Promotions and discounts buffeted the campaign, topping off the buzz with real incentives.
Still, half the world had nothing but praise, while the other half felt compelled to point out that video views (social media) don’t translate into revenue. Even Brian Solis, a social media pioneer, correctly predicts that the videos will diminish in impact over time, but surprisingly suggests they should have included customized offers and discounts as part of their monologs.
You think so? I’m not sure incentives and offers in the videos would have aided views. Plus it misses the point. That being we should stop being so obsessed with the immediate impact of social media efforts. The real benefit of “Hello Ladies” is that like any good engagement advertising it generated over 95,000 new followers for the brand on Twitter and, combined with other marketing efforts, bumped its Facebook likes up to nearly 800,000. Those new community members are the real value. Long term value. Thousands of people who’ve opted in to be part of the conversation.
Presuming that the “Hello Ladies” folks now engage with those fans and followers, they have something even better than a positive blip in weekly sales. They’ve got their equivalent of Dead Heads — people to whom they can market and introduce new products; a community from which they can crowdsource ideas and content; people they can mobilize to bring even more fans into the fold.
We all know that if you want to sell a lot of something you’ve got three things you can do.
One, do what Apple does and come up with an awesome product that everyone wants.
Two, run a promotion with incentives to try or buy the product.
Three, get good at contextual marketing so that you can push messages (don’t spam) to customers who’ve opted into receiving them on their terms.
And, if you really want, you can continue to use social media for short term, campaign oriented results. Give something away. Beef up your engagement ad budget. Incent people to un-friend or re-friend their friends.
But if your objective is to take advantage of social media, stop evaluating everything you (or others) do based on the immediacy of results. Long-term relationships are always better.