July 23, 2014

Twitter Giving Up On Social Media Marketing?

Here at The Ketel One Executive Center of The Ad Contrarian Global Headquarters, we've been saying for some time that:
a) The delusion of social media marketing is rapidly evaporating
b) Social media sites are morphing into channels for carrying traditional paid advertising as fast as they possibly can
There are three reasons for this
1) Consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands"
2) Consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands"
3) Did I mention that consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands?"
If you need proof of this, click on over to your Facebook page and see if you can find a conversation about a brand. What you'll find is a festival of paid advertising.

While the dim bulbs in the marketing industry spent 5 years exhorting us to "join the conversation" actual human beings were thinking "what fucking conversation?"

So the lovely fantasy of consumers carrying our marketing water for us by going online to extol the virtues of our mittens, mayonnaise, and motor oil has gone all sour.

Facebook saw the light and stopped pretending to be a vehicle for social media marketing. They became a born-again old-school paid advertising channel. As one Facebook executive put it to Time magazine...
“…if businesses want to make sure that people see their content the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising.”
If I may take the liberty of translating the above sentence, here's what the Facebook guy was trying to say:
"We can't make a nickel off this social media bullshit, but we can have a nice juicy steak dinner selling some good ol' fashioned paid ads."
Of course Facebook's rival, Twitter, is drooling.

Having seen what Facebook's stock price did once Facebook stopped living in new-age never-never-land and started seriously selling real ads, Twitter wants a slice.

But first they have to figure out how to convince people -- especially marketers and investors -- that they are not what they said they were.

The problem is that marketers and investors love the idea of social media but hate the reality of it. They want to see real money from real ad sales. Not hot air about "conversations."

And so Twitter is now on a mission to convince the world that they are not really a social network.

According to The Wall Street Journal last week...
"Executives hope to shift the perception of Twitter from a social network to a broadcast platform"
A broadcast platform? But hold it. Isn't broadcast dead?

The only question now is how long it will take the cement-heads in agencies and marketing departments -- who are still gorging on empty calories at the social media buffet -- to figure out what the hell is going on.


Bailey Burk said...

Rested, recharged and ready for more rants. How was the vacation Bob?

LeShann said...

To be fair, when Facebook made that claim, the important word here was "sure". Guaranteed reach can only be delivered through paid media, but it's not to say that Facebook cannot play a role as a social / earned platform. Data however shows that brands that have high paid and owned media performance usually get high earned media performance (ie you're more likely to get word of mouth if you are a big advertiser). Which makes complete sense as it simply means more people know about you.

But there are anomaly brands that do really well with little paid/broadcast investments and focusing on word of mouth. In cosmetics, one of the most spend driven categories, Kiehl's is a great example of a brand that vastly over performs its share of market vs share of spend, in great part thanks to a very distinctive identity and products (ie exceptional owned performance). The question is how sustainable is it to be an anomaly, and is it only reserved to one or two brands in each category?

It's a good thing that social platforms become more honest with the need to broadcast and interrupt, but that doesn't mean they can't also play a social/earned media role, or that they should be dumped altogether.

Matthew Fernandes said...

Twitter as well as Facebook is giving a commonly support in social media marketing and thanks for sharing as very nice and helpful.

VIS Business

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Every brand wants to be an anomaly. The ones who rely on it are 99.9999999999% dead.

You're tiptoeing around a chicken/egg situation here. Social media does fuck all without traditional ad dollars backing it up. When left on its own, Facebook (and it's ilk) did nothing for marketers. When it started to sell real, interruption model advertising, suddenly it all works?

Owned media? Earned media? Baloney.

Without paid, interruptive ads, social media does exactly nothing for the incredibly vast majority of advertisers. Earned media my eye. That's a fancy way of saying, "the ads got talked about." Owned media like websites and such are dead wood for ad purposes. The only reason people go to most of them is because they saw, wait for it, an ad.

Sorry to be such an ass on a Friday. Gets my blood up is all.

LeShann said...

Damn you are angry today :)

Look, my company is specialised paid media, and I spend a lot of my time at the moment explaining what you describe and the fact interruption is still very paramount to many brands, and essential for the biggest ones. Even the few "earned success stories" do well up until a point, and then they are forced to go into paid, interruptive advertising.

But things are not black and white, and in many categories it's important to have a strong strategy for owned media, and one to see how to capitalize on the earned media a campaign is able to generate. I know it sounds wanky and that you dislike the terms, but when it comes down to it, and when we look at the data, there is a lot to do in the owned space and many brands are getting that stage wrong, while very few know how to capitalize on the earned stuff they get. It's by no mean the locomotive, but if you are going to put a state of the art paid locomotive to move your brand, you better be sure the train it's pulling is not just an empty shell. Does that mean Facebook should be central? Fuck no.

But I have seen quite a few brands that only focused on their paid media, and who at some point suffered from it. Those who do better with their share of spend vs share of market ratio (a crucial metric) often have a more holistic strategy - rarely a better media strategy.

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