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This video by Erik Qualman of Search Engine Watch presents statistics that are so alluring that it must leave the viewer wondering why some even consider social media to be a fad.

It is certainly not the social media companies themselves, media companies or agencies that are leading people down this social garden path. Actually it’s people’s thirst for information, friends, acceptance etc (and a plethora of other sociological and anthropological aspects) that is resulting in people driving down more like a seven lane superhighway at breakneck speed resulting in these unprecedented engagement levels.

And when you are driving down a motorway and see a lorry parked side on in an adjoining field with a large ad on the side, do you remember the URL or phone number on the ad when you arrive at your destination? (If you’ve written it down whilst driving – shame on you!)

Yes, you nearly crash into the car in front of you trying to read the ad or slowed down so much that the motorcyclist behind you is now headbutting your number plate, but that’s just it. You read it and it’s gone. No hook, no memory. It’s a bit like an ad on the London Underground using an SMS number as the call to action.

Some of the facts presented in the video are so colossal that it has got everyone scratching their heads in bewilderment. It tempts companies and marketers to conjure traditional questions such as:

  • How do we hook these users in?

  • How are we going to make money from them?

  • What’s it worth?

From my perspective however, these questions are totally missing the point and currently demonstrate a lack of understanding and empathy of what these users are demanding.

  1. They demand speed.

  2. They demand choice.

  3. They demand engagement on their terms.

  4. They choose when anything happens.

  5. They demand free content.

However there is no one size fits all solution here. As with all user groups, understanding the demographics of the target audience will define the answers to questions such as:

  1. What is important to the user, what do they want?

  2. How do we actively engage these users?

  3. How do we tempt them?

  4. Why do they need us?

So, slice and dice your data and understand your target audience better. Yes it would be great to target all 300m users of LatestSocialMediaFadSite.com but it’s not realistic as not all of them want what you’ve got.

And understand the user purchasing journey for these demographics, as you will find that social media hooks will create a longer lag time to purchase than some other channels.

So if you give the user what they want when they want it and engage them in the right way, the money will follow. And this is where another revolution needs to occur. The present landscape demands that companies and marketers address and engage their audience in an entirely different and new way. We have gone from the industrial to the digital revolution. Now, all hail the social revolution.

Henry Elliss

Published 11 September, 2009 by Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss is a senior strategist at Good Relations and contributor at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or via his own parenting blog.

18 more posts from this author

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Karl Havard

Karl Havard, Chief Strategy Officer at Econsultancy Small Business Guest AccessSmall Business Multi-user

Henry,

Nice piece! People are definitely thirsty for info' and use the social web to research and seek insights from fellow consumers and brands themselves. I believe the winners will be those organisations who can build and enhance consumer trust incorporating social media to do so. This means opening yourself up (being accessible), listening and interacting in an open and honest way....and of course delivering to expectation.

If businesses fail to recognise this potential, they are closing a very big communications channel. A bit like ignoring all the phones when they ring.

Thanks again. Good post.

Karl

almost 7 years ago

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Jacob Wright

This video and post are a stunning example of the precise problem around the debate about social media.

Of course social media is popular.  That is not under debate.  Urinating, telling jokes, playing chess and drinking lager are also popular.  But popularity does not equal being a good medium for marketing.  If you believe that social media is a great medium for marketing show me a case study for a brand that was built using social media, with the amount of rigour and attention to return on investment that any responsible client would demand of a case study using television advertising.

Secondly, just because you can make an argument from analogy does not make it right.  Saying that social media is a conversation and that therefore marketing should be about conversation is not a proof, it's a theory.  For hundreds of years medicine was crippled by believable but ultimately false analogies about the human body (the four humours etc.)  If you want to convince grown-up marketers of the value of your services you need to move beyond lazy analogies and engage with WHAT MAKES PEOPLE BUY STUFF.  Just because we can use social media for marketing DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE SHOULD.

Finally, I'm sick and tired of seeing that ridiculous statistic about word of mouth and advertising.  If any of the thousands of people writing these facile decks and perpetuating this ridiculous dogma had actually bothered to study and understand 'traditional' marketing they'd know that people have always CLAIMED to not be influenced by ads, but have always been PROVEN to actually BE influenced by them despite this.  Which is a textbook example of what psychologists know as 'the introspection fallacy' i.e. that people don't really understand their own psychology and that the things they SAY do not equate with the things they DO.

So yes people talk about brands on social media.  But I can change what they say on social media by doing things like tv ads, or even tv ads in rich media banners.  This is proven.  Prove to me that you can affect people AT SCALE with a concrete methodology.  Don't just witter on about trends.  Show us the money.  Read and understand some basic human psychology texts, engage with traditional marketing instead of criticising some straw-man version of it that only exists in your head.  And finally propose a concrete solution instead of grabbing some numbers off google and expecting the world to fall at your feet.

almost 7 years ago

Karl Havard

Karl Havard, Chief Strategy Officer at Econsultancy Small Business Guest AccessSmall Business Multi-user

Jacob,

I believe I can take you through a methodology based upon trust dynamics that works. Nothing to do with marketing, or social media surprisingly. However, it can be applied by marketing, customer service etc. and incorporate the social web as part of an overall communications approach (receive and transmit). Focusing on buying stuff is completely missing the point, but if you can encourage people to talk to others and say positive things about you (advocacy) en-masse...then you have something.

Let me know if your interested. Your post doesn't allow for contacting you.

Karl

almost 7 years ago

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erik qualman

Henry:

Great post and thanks for the positive vibes on my video.  I especially like your points here:

  1. They demand speed.

  2. They demand choice.

  3. They demand engagement on their terms.

  4. They choose when anything happens.

  5. They demand free content.

Best, Erik Qualman

Author of Socialnomics

almost 7 years ago

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Will Burden

From my experience, the key understanding around SMMarketing is that is not about demo-defined mass markets -- it is about segmented, self-identified individuals and groups. The successful use of SM tools depends on creating a critical mass of relationships (conversations) with individuals who themselves are networked with discrete and interlocked groups. It's the niche that counts, and any marketing "message" must be sufficiently personalized to be authentic and meaningful for the target individual/audience.

At least that's my take.

--Will

almost 7 years ago

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Phil Raynor

It's the emperor’s new clothes. Every year marketing or ecommerce come out with the ‘next big thing’. Does anyone remember WAP – ‘mobile marketing’s the future, I’ve seen it!’ It has taken five years and even now it’s in its infancy.

Social media will be a useful tool for marketing, ecomms and corporations in general. Unlike affiliates, I don’t see me making millions out of it.

It’s a fantastic channel to firstly discover, uncover, listen and then communicate with your audience...but only on THEIR terms.

As I always say: You don’t walk into a pub; sit at a table of strangers; buy a round of drinks for all and then expect them to become your advocates. What if they don’t like you or find you offensive.  Worse still, sit down and be one of those ‘friends’ we all have: ‘yes, that’s very interesting, but now let’s talk about me.’

What we need is perspective here. As with all new forms of communication channels, it will take time to really understand how to truly leverage your business within the social arena. At the moment, we are all grasping and learning as we go. Even Erik Qualman is discovering new factors each day!

PS: Erik. Your Socialnomics book arrived today from Amazon: maybe after reading your usually persuasive text, I will change my mind!

almost 7 years ago

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Jeff Paul Scam

SEO, linking, spamming is a big, big industry. It may be a nuisance but for a product owner, it is deemed important in trying to be relevant, current and out there. It also is being developed on a regular manner so it is every changing and dynamic.

almost 7 years ago

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SEO Services Expert Company, Search Engine Optimization Expert at SEO Services Company

Social media promotion is the latest fad in SEO marketing.

over 6 years ago

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Videoly

Social media promotion is major part of SEO optimization. it cant pass over...

over 6 years ago

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kyle ward

Thanks darragh! This is just what I need to familiarize myself in blog commenting. Looking forward to many interesting and helpful articles from you.

over 5 years ago

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prmarketing

Providing relevant content is a key to win trust of your target customers which reinforces and strengthens the relationship between both the parties.

about 5 years ago

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Sahet Secol

It is so easy to forget that our audience is human sometimes, as we sit at our computers and stare at a screen instead of another human being.

over 4 years ago

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