Two Dirty Little Social Media Secrets

I was intrigued by Marc Meyer’s post about social media marketing being too labor intensive.  He outlines a whole series of activities, from smaller things like creating listening posts and monitoring buzz, mentions and opportunities to bigger initiatives like creating and managing blogs, microsites using social platform providers, and broad community initiatives.  Agencies and businesses alike need to sort out the level of effort and costs required (not to mention roles and responsibilities for maintaining each).  I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, but trying to highlight reality a bit by sharing two topics you don’t hear about much when it comes to how successful social tactics are deployed.

1. More Successful Means More Expensive

As these tactics become more successful, they become more expensive.  These tactics require long term effort and can certainly can do more damage if abandoned.  But it takes more effort to continue to manage, build and grow, and that can mean more costs internally, at a minimum.  The effort can result in more resources, more media, more content – all of which have a price tag unless you believe people are free (in which case I’d like to hire you for my next project).

2. Hope is Not a Plan: Paid + Earned Media

A partner at Accenture I used to work with was king of pouncing on anyone who responded to a question with “I hope…”   His response was a sharp  “Hope is not a plan.”  This applies to social ideas too.  Even the most successful social media initiatives are likely combined with other marketing tactics – especially paid media and email marketing.  I’d be surprised to hear about social ideas that were grounded purely in the “hope” they will go viral alone.  What’s the quickest way for a brand to get fans (likes) on a Facebook page?  Engagement ads on Facebook with a call to action, or emailing customers with a similar call to action.  Companies like Rapleaf can tell you which customers are active in social networks – you can be precise on the call to action, but just building something social doesn’t mean customers will show up.  Li Evans wrote an excellent post recently about how social media marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, going deeper on other tactics like SEO and PPC.  Together these tactics magnify each other.

Am I just being Master of the Obvious again? Have an example that contradicts?  I’d love to hear it, and I hope I’m wrong.  Right, hope is not a plan.

Photo credit: movetheclouds via Flickr

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Email – Electronic Landfills Get Bigger

Last Thursday in Internet Retailer was a release from Juniper Networks projecting a significant increase in spending on email marketing for the next 6 years. 

Emailtombstone"Overall spending on marketing e-mail in the U.S. is expected to grow from $1.2 billion last year to $2.1 billion by 2012, with b2c e-mail continuing to represent the largest share of that total."

Jupiter, are you serious?  With Facebook, IM, Twitter, text messaging and lots of alternatives out there, spending substantial money on email campaigns seems foolish and throwing good money after bad.  I know many young folks who check email once a week at most.  I personally have a separate email account I use whenever a website requires me to put in an address, which I check maybe once every two weeks just to empty the inbox.  While email may never go away, I think it’s going the way of voicemail.  Anyone used to have Octel?  You could send messages to another person on the network easily…my old company used to live by it, even sending out broadcast community octel updates.  IM was the death of octel – suddenly you could get a hold of anyone easily and effectively, and in a manner of months I went from 8-10 octels a day to 1-2 a month.  Email may not suffer the same fate, but is there any doubt it’s becoming less effective or relevant?

When you read on in the article it says that many sites will fail to reduce or refine their lists, leading to higher spending.  More "marketing clutter" is coming your way, and even subscribed emails will be competing for your eyes with spam, bac’n and promotions that aren’t relevant to you.  Companies are better off spending that money on refining their lists, segmenting customers and developing a strategy and targeted campaign to get the right emails to the right people.  Otherwise the following 3 things will come true: companies are going to flush a lot of cash down the toilet, more companies enter the email marketing blitz, and overall ROI decreases over time.  What do you think?