Digital Influence Weekly – The Good News About the Bad News on Social Media

ThingLink may be the holiday present I’ve been waiting for all year. This site allows you to easily create interactive images which can work within Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, websites and more. We’re trying it out by using it for one of our amazing past clients, Alpha Troop. Check out the interactive image and be sure to hover over all icons leading to articles the Alpha Troop website, White House footage and our case study. What do you think?

And now, the Digital Influence Weekly…

 Digital Influencer

A op-ed posted earlier this week talks about how “social media marketing is a waste of time.” They refer to the recent IBM study showing that Facebook and Twitter contributed next to nothing when it came to Black Friday sales for online purchases. It also shows that referring traffic to purchases made online for Cyber Monday saw about a 26 percent decrease from 2011. 

The op-ed also references a humorous video from The Onion, a mock news site known for being witty and snarky. In this video, a young man gives a talk on how creating social media accounts for large brands technically achieves nothing, but can successfully generate social media engagement through insincerity, dishonesty and being of no true value to people online. This is supposed to echo the concerns many decision makers have about using social media and the “experts” they hire.

The op-ed author, I feel, is trying to comment on ways to fight this negative perception that social media is a waste of time, but it’s not 100 percent clear. His solutions involve being honest and being of value to people. It’s not new, but is certainly always worth repeating. 

However, if commentary like these and studies like IBMs have you thinking social media isn’t worth it, please keep the following in mind in regards to the op-ed:

First, the IBM study doesn’t show the impact of social media on Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, just the referring traffic to online purchases for those two days. The study does not count the time spent by customers reviewing, researching and discussing products they wish to buy prior to buying them in stores or online. In fact you don’t have to search hard to find studies showing the impact of social media on purchases. Google released this study in October 2012 highlighting that social media, while not the highest, is still a key component in researching holiday purchases. If someone goes to Google or types in the url directly to make an online purchase, that doesn’t mean they spent no time before hand using social media to plan this purchase.

Second, there is a popular trend to discredit social media by people who are frustrated with it or social media professionals in general. If a group of people within an industry are bad at their jobs, does that mean the necessity for the services they provide are a waste of time? No. It just means some people aren’t good at what they do. For a PR or marketing firm to be good at social media means they have to be excellent in other core areas of the business first. Media relations, civic engagement, marketing, public affairs, crisis management and visual creative services done well, to name a few, fuel social media activities. 

In addition, many criticize the content that businesses put out on social media as being condescending or trite, but refuse to acknowledge the positive engagement that content receives. The “Condescending Corporate Brand Page” on Facebook likes to single out companies providing irrelevant information online. They do provide good examples of what not to do in general, but forget that these pages may be giving the people what they want. Sometimes people want useful information they can use for their everyday lives. Sometimes they just want to share a cat video, and most people probably aren’t picky about where they get their cat videos from online.

To learn more about how companies of all types are using social media in their digital mix, check out the Houston Business Journal’s insert today, the Marketing Gone Digital Roundtable. You’ll see that serious professionals are working to make the social media experience one that is beneficial for online users and the companies.