My post the other day (“Why Bother With Social Media?”) definitely struck a chord and generated some good conversation, as it was meant to do.
Based on some of those conversations and responses, I did want to add some more thoughts to the original ramblings.
First, I’m not saying never ever ever ever shall any brand spend time or money in building a social media community and fostering some sort of engagement through it.
Where there is some (relatively) clear connection between the core assets/function of a brand and the natural user consumption desires/behavior on a given platform, therein lies some potential opportunity for gain, and a decent argument for an investment creating and building a brand-driven social media presence.
But what I am saying, is that instances in which this strong natural intersection exists, are the exception, not the rule. Most brands are awkwardly forcing this connection at best, and all things being evaluated equally, it’d make more sense for them to reduce their focus in social down to near zero.
Because my central point in all of this, is that every marketing plan should start from zero, and channels should be chosen unsentimentally, prioritized based on their ability to drive the bottom line. Which more often than not, would put social media pretty far down that prioritized list. If on the list at all.
Some of the specific points that people brought up in response to my post were:
- What about customer service?
Yes, sure. Social media has most certainly shaken up how brands and businesses need to address unhappy customers. Though I’m not quite sure anyone's really cracked that nut yet. The most common tactic I’ve seen throughout the industry to date, seems to be the GFTO (get the fuck offline) approach, where social media managers play whack-a-mole, and try to herd complainers into established offline channels (phone/email/web) as quickly as possible. So, again, the resource case we’re making feels a bit disconnected from the reality of what’s actually being addressed - since most social media “customer service” amounts to a copy/paste apology and link to a form so reps can “take it offline”.
- What about purchase influence?
Jess made the point that social presences give the undecided users a sense of the brand. While I have a lot of love for Jess, I don’t necessarily believe that active exploration of a brand’s social channels is a deciding factor (or even an influencing factor) in the majority of user journeys. I’ll buy that people visit Yelp, or read Amazon reviews, or check out Consumer Reports, but I just don’t see Facebook pages as being an important part of that purchase path. Again, this feels like another tenuous hypothesis we inflate in order to justify what we’re doing.
- What about awareness?
Can a brand’s social media presence help drive awareness? Some, sure. Any interaction, or even noticing of any brand anything, can theoretically raise awareness of the brand in some small way I suppose. I’d tend to think though, that if you’re already a fan or follower of a brand, your awareness is likely quite high as it is. So maybe that content your posting, at best reinforces awareness. But I’m not sure that your owned social channels are creating any awareness where it didn’t previously exist. And frankly, your ability as a brand to even do that much, is basically going away as we speak.
Again, these are just my opinions today, and this is an evolving point-of-view that’s based on a lot of recent observations and conversations I’ve been having of late. Nothing I’m saying is a 100% truism or universally unassailable fact for every brand out there.
I do believe however, that brand marketers should be more assertive in asking the question (“is social media really worth it?”), and that they shuld be looking objectively at the channels they spend against, versus diving blindly into checking the boxes thrown in front of them.
And I’m also asking those who sell social media tools and strategies, to dispense with the fantasy, and to re-focus on bringing your clients the plans and recommendations that they actually need – not just the ones that you can best profit from.
I look forward to continuing the discussion, so keep the comments coming.
Earlier this summer, I penned a post exclaiming that I was “quitting advertising”, and it caused a brief, and rather silly stir. We got some funny press, I got the pleasure of being misquoted, and the whole thing lasted for about one full rotation of the internet’s attention-cycle (roughly three days). By now, I’m sure that post, and I, have generally been forgotten.
But while that little bit of excitement has run it’s course, what we have set out to do with Heart, has not.
Our first four-ish months were a learning experience in so many ways. We stumbled face-first into some unique and profitable work, only to then fall backwards out of other equally unique, and potentially profitable jobs.
Overall, it’s been an invaluable education, and one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
And as we head into the new year, we’ve gained a strength and excitement that will propel us forward. We have clarity of vision and a sense of purpose.
As one our our smart friends and mentors said, we’re “modern, lean, agile, unencumbered, honest, hungry, and idealistic”.
I couldn’t have chosen better words myself, so I just stole his.
Our refined focus in 2014 will be on our ability to create beautifully designed brand experiences - spanning digital, analog, and everything in-between.
We think there is massively rich opportunity to transform businesses by rethinking the way advertising dollars have traditionally been allocated. Viewing the standard marketing line-items as opportunities for long-term investment in the future, versus short-term expenses tied to the present.
We see the power and the possibility in brands that consider and choreograph every possible encounter into a single, beautifully designed narrative - regardless of format or channel.
We see the strength of experiences that come from aesthetic and communication systems, that ensure each moment between brand and person, is connected, thoughtful, and deliberate.
We see the continually disruptive nature of digital, and we have a deep love for the timelessness of the physical.
And we see the promise of a magical future that lies in our ability to literally connect the two.
As Claude Debussy said,
Music is the space between the notes.
Most of all, we’re excited to work with forward-looking, brave, challenger brands and people, that seek to define the future instead of trying to predict it.
Most of my life has been spent in the performance marketing field. Tracking conversions and cost-per’s to the percent and penny. I never really thought brand mattered. I got irritated with big brand marketers and their massive budgets spent on building brand and getting more eyeballs on their logos and ads. I didn’t get it.
Now that I spend my days at an ad agency, I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for how all of the parts come together, and why brand matters.
Brand is the atmosphere around product. Brand trains the consumer and gives them value contexts.
Brand is why the $6.79 Advil can sit right next to the $4.29 CVS brand Ibuprofen on the shelf, and still sell out each week. Same ingredients, same pill count. Same everything, save for the branding.
I’ve always loved this story of Joshua Bell, playing as a busker in the DC Metro.
On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities – as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?
The passersby here had been trained over time, to view a subway musician much differently than one playing in a concert hall. Same product, just a different context and perception.