INSIGHTS Social Marketing Grows Up

INSIGHTS Social Marketing Grows Up

"Social media doesn't work the way many marketers think it does. If that's all you read, you might believe that everything we've thought and acted upon involving social media marketing was wrong. After all, didn't we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand's shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises? It's possible that getting people to follow a brand on social media makes them buy more. Social likes and endorsements might be good to have, but successful brands still understand that their marketing job isn't done simply because a friend liked something, the research shows. The good news is that toward the end of a hype cycle, things settle down as real-world data helps us understand the best uses for new technologies. Active outreach by a brand to get and keep customers involved long after the original purchase is what drives the likes. A like from a one-time buyer says something about a product, but likes coming in from customers over time indicates engagement and loyalty. For many, the relationship between engagement and loyalty is still a mystery. His new book, You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon.

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social-marketing

For an article that lands on the social marketer like a proverbial ton of bricks, check out “What’s the Value of a Like?” in the March-April issue of the Harvard Business Review.

“Social media doesn’t work the way many marketers think it does. The mere act of endorsing a brand does not affect a customer’s behavior or lead to increased purchasing, nor does it spur purchasing by friends,” concluded authors Leslie K. John, Daniel Mochon, Oliver Emrich, and Janet Schwartz in their report on four years of experiments, 23 in all, that engaged 18,000 people.

If that’s all you read, you might believe that everything we’ve thought and acted upon involving social media marketing was wrong. However, it’s not — though the research clearly signals that we have to adjust our thinking.

What’s in a Like?

Before there was experimental data to support various contentions, it made perfect sense to believe that the likes and endorsements posted to friends on social media would drive more business.

After all, didn’t we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand’s shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises? Didn’t we all accept that a social megaphone could be a brand disaster if not handled properly?

Yes, and yes, we did all that. It’s not wrong, at least not totally, but there are two ways to see this as the authors point out.

It’s possible that getting people to follow a brand on social media makes them buy more. However, it’s also possible that those who already have positive feelings toward a brand are more likely to follow it in the first place, and that’s why they spend more than non-followers.

Teasing this apart is important, because millions of dollars in marketing budgets hang in…

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