Forrester Research has just come out with paper that says most social media advertising for Gen-X and Gen-Y is wasted. The firm is right, and the reason for their conclusion is that social media advertising has too much clutter.
If a typical Gen-X or Gen-Yer has a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, foursquare, and a Hi5 account, there are hundreds of “friends” being followed. Is it realistic to think that a message from a marketer is going to take precedence over commenting on a friend’s picture or status message?
With all of the “noise” these demographics invite into their lives, it is a safe bet they can adeptly filter out the unwanted noise. According to Forrester, that is exactly what they are doing.
Social media as a marketing tool has some real problems. It is very difficult, if not impossible to do social media marketing well over a long period of time. That is not to say that there is the occasional social media advertising “success,” but success in social media marketing has yet to be sustained over a period of time.
Even the lauded Old Spice spots are now just a blip in the memory banks of the very audience it wished to reach. A year from now, they will scarcely be remembered and will have done little to increase preference over the long term. Remember, with hundreds of friends tweeting, blogging, posting to their walls, and sending friend requests, this demographic’s memory span is about five tweets long when it comes to marketing messages.
Forrester Research contends, “Companies building new brands should focus their efforts on existing social platforms, offering topics and tools that haven’t been used by other social media marketers; those hoping to provide long-term support to established brands might choose to launch product- or brand-specific communities and networks.”
The conclusion there is that, in order to be successful in social media marketing, you have to do something that has not been done before (and then when it is copied, do something that has not been done before, and when it is copied…). Clearly this is not a marketing model that can be sustained. It sounds terrific for a business to say ,”Check us out on Facebook,” but wouldn’t you rather have audiences check you out at your web address or store location?
The problem is meaning and differentiation, as it always is. With social media marketing, it is difficult to get either. The marketer looses control of meaning when they put their latest webisode online and, once you have a good idea, you will instantly get copied. That is how social media marketing started in the first place, no?
There is a place for social media marketing, but only as a supplement to what you are already doing. But I do not see it as the savior of the ad business. There are a great many agencies that would like it to be (hence the reason they push it), but social media marketing as so many variables, most of which a marketer cannot control, that there are other more effective ways to spend that money.
Grow your business for the long term, not for the next five tweets.