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Why Social Media Doesn't Work (and What You Can Do About It)

by Mike Heronime  |  
April 10, 2012

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Three ingredients for social media success
  • Five engagement-strategy idea starters

Time to face reality: Marketing and advertising are a lot harder to do today than ever before. Half of consumers don't trust print ads or television commercials, and fewer still trust what they hear on the radio. And consumer trust level is even worse for direct mail and outdoor advertising.

What's the No. 1 trusted source of advertising? Word-of-mouth! That's a huge game changer. Before, marketers had to convince consumers to buy their product. Now, they have to convince consumers to convince other consumers to buy their product.

It's no small wonder that marketers have fixated on social media as the solution. Nearly all consumers are using social media these days to share everything with their friends (e.g., hobbies, events, humor, and, sometimes, even information about products and services).

Engagement DB, which studied the world's 100 most valuable brands, found that the level of those brands' engagement with their consumers via social media correlates with revenue. Companies with the highest level of social media activity increased revenue 18% in the previous 12 months, whereas companies with the least activity recorded a 6% drop in sales.

No wonder Nike's chief marketing officer, Davide Grasso, once noted, "Facebook is the equivalent for us to what TV was for marketers back in the 1960s. It's an integral part of what we do now."

Others also took the hint and made social media a priority for their marketing teams. For a lot of marketers, that meant setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter profile. But the results haven't worked out as planned. For many, the sales needle has moved little.

The reason for the lack of results is familiar. The same thing happened back in the day when advertisers were first told that the Internet was the place to be. Their biggest failing? A build-it-and-they-will-come mentality, which still exists. Too many marketers create accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and when nothing happens... they become disappointed.

It's as though marketers have forgotten what makes marketing and advertising really work in the first place. The problem is the lack of engagement.

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Mike Heronime is founding partner and strategic services director at Numantra, a full-service advertising agency. His 27-year career has included a wide array of experiences including traditional advertising and interactive marketing for mega brands like Pepsi, American Airlines, Samsung, and ExxonMobil.

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  • by Jeff Molander Tue Apr 10, 2012 via web

    Disagree: Social media works if you mix in direct response.

    Disagree: Word of mouth isn't a game changer. It's been around since man could communicate about commercial offers. It's just being sped up by social media. It's a game ENHANCER.

    Disagree: Producing sales with social media demands marketers to provide what Frank Kern calls "results in advance." People are not buying based on what they read or see on social media. People don't buy based on how engaging your content is. People buy based on how much the business behind the content is willing to actually PROVE to them before the purchase. People WILL buy your product or service. But they'll make the purchase decision based PURELY on your ability to deliver SOME results BEFORE the actual purchase. And that means you've GOT to have a systematic, yet practical way to court your customer... to PROVE to them that investing in your product or service will give them FULL results.

    Thanks for considering!

  • by A. Elkins Thu Apr 12, 2012 via web

    Terrific article, Mike. I'm struggling with developing that big idea!

  • by Celeste Wed Nov 20, 2013 via web

    Great article Mike, I used it to reflect on social media marketing for my IMC class.

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