Agree to Disagree

Today I was reading an article, “Social Media to Marketers: Get Over Yourself!” by Heidi Cohen.

Cohen’s argument starts out strong, noting, “On social media, consumers tend to be interested in themselves, their family, and friends. For marketers, this means you need to get over yourself! People are on social media to socialize, not get bombarded with your marketing messages.”

I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more.  the social media explosion allows people to ignore the loud, dumb advertising of our past and to seek out “advertising” (if that’s still the right word) that inspires sharing and conversation.

However, Cohen goes too far to one side, essentially arguing that your time spent using social media as a marketing tool may be totally useless.  She notes an eMarketer study which found that:

“Just 1% of fans of the biggest brands on Facebook engage with the brands on the site. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute study looked at Facebook metrics for the top 200 brands, and through an examination of activities such as “likes,” comments, posts and shares, the research group found nothing substantial to link a brand’s Facebook presence with loyalty.

Limited consumer engagement with brands on Facebook suggests there may be a disconnect between the reasons why consumers actually “like” a brand and the reasons brands think consumers are “liking” their page. When the CMO Council asked Facebook users in Q4 2011 about their expectations after “liking” a brand on Facebook, the top expectation (67%) was to be “eligible for exclusive offers.”

I hold issue is with the assertion that those who “like” your page are not so likely to buy your product because they are only looking for exclusive offers.  Rather, I would posit that the page is not being used in a proper manner to turn those “likes” into acolytes.

Nowhere does this study factor in engagement with the page.  That is where the real bread and butter of social media can be found: getting people to talk about your brand, share it with friends and socialize your content. In short, building word-of-mouth.

By building a trusted rapport with your fans and giving away valuable advice, you are establishing your bonafides as an expert to turn to. I have been recommended several services via Facebook friends that I have taken advantage of.  Similarly, I have also shared useful information that has come from companies I trust and follow. I would also counter her studies with one from Sociable Labs, which confirms that consumers are highly influenced by their friends.

While Cohen is right that yelling “BUY THIS!!!” is not effective, I think she is missing the boat on what social media marketing is truly all about.


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