My new goals: Day 1
I started off the first day of my reading goals by creating an RSS feed of important marketing websites in Google Reader. I even read the print version of The Wallstreet Journal while I was eating my breakfast this morning. Not bad for my first day.
An article in AdAge called “Most Fortune 50 Brands Still Hiding Their Social Media” pointed out an industry trend that proved to be extremely thought provoking.
I think we can all agree that social media has been a major driver behind the monumental shift of information sharing in the digital space. The way people communicate with each other and with brands has fundamentally changed forever. This large shift in consumer behavior has forever altered the way companies can successfully market to their customers; the 1-way conversation approach of traditional marketing no longer works.
Social media provided another platform for people to interact with each other and (more importantly for marketers) facilitate a 2-way conversation between the consumer and the brands. Its obvious that firms able to manage this interaction and effectively respond to consumers are going to achieve the most success incorporating social media into their marketing strategy.
So why are only 44% these Fortune 50 companies actually utilizing social media icons on their main webpages?
The answer? Unfortunately, it isn’t a simple one. There are many factors that could be to blame for this fact, and I’ve narrowed it down to what I think may be the two main reasons:
1) Company History & Tradition
The companies listed in the 2011 Fortune 50 list are all well-established corporations with long histories of success. It is true that many of these companies have continued to achieve success even without adopting icons for social media technologies on their webpages. But even if it is “the way its always been done,” these corporate giants would not endure any financial hardship by adding these icons to their main webpages or from hiring someone as a social media manager.
So what is it then? I’ve often heard the argument that companies with an established consumer base do not want to try new marketing methods for fear of alienating their loyal customers. But even if the main concern is alienating an older generation by using social media technologies, shouldn’t adapting to changing market trends be an even bigger concern? If the age that people start using mobile phones and social media sites is growing increasingly younger, it makes more sense to have a presence where this demographic communicates. Not only does it create awareness about your company, but it also introduces your brand to your future customers at an early age.
2) How to Measure ROI?
This question is the most difficult to answer, because even with all of the advances in social media metrics designed to measure ROI. What are companies really trying to measure? Just because you got 100 people to “like” your Facebook fan page, it does not mean you’ve actually achieved a satisfactory return from your social media strategy. Anyone with a computer can create a Facebook page; and I constantly find myself “liking” all sorts of pages (chocolate chip cookies, check!) without even a second thought back to the company. The issue here is that companies dive into social media without having even done their research.
You can’t just make a Facebook and Twitter page and expect to see the real results just by updating your status or getting the most followers. I can guarantee you that putting forth the least amount of effort will generate the least effective results. Yes, that does provide you with quantitative data, but the real value is behind the qualitative data that marketers can obtain using social media.
People use social media to connect and share with their friends, family, co-workers and classmates. Companies can find where people are having conversations about their brand and interact organically with their customers. People openly share whether they like or dislike your brand and what they think about it. It is FREE consumer research without the high costs of traditional focus groups and surveys.
I believe that while it is difficult to use numbers/quantitative data (# of friends, tweets, followers, posts, etc) to measure ROI, the qualitative information obtained from these conversations adds enough valuable information that marketers can use to make better decisions in the future. Something to be considered.
Another market trend to mull over: If fortune 50 companies have mobile capabilities, why aren’t they using it?