Face(book) It – Your Social Media Strategy isn’t Paying Off

According to eMarketer, last year, U.S. companies spent more than $3 billion on Facebook brand pages and social media advertisements and the return has been universally abysmal. GM went on record in May of this year in the Wall Street Journal saying that FB ads don’t pay off and that GM was ending all investment in FB advertising.

That said, The CMO completed a survey in February 2012 and found “…that marketers continue to increase spend on social media. In the next 5 years, marketers expect to spend 19.5% of their budgets on social media, almost three times more than the current level! Within a year, marketers expect to spend 10.8% of their budgets on social media.”

Unless the results change, however, marketers are going to lose interest in this “shiny new toy” and eventually drop or at least significantly reduce their investments in social media.

That would be a mistake.

The problem doesn’t lie with FB et al per se. The underlying problem, in my opinion, and what has recently been corroborated by research is that your social media strategy needs to include authentic customer engagement and not be viewed and used as yet another one-way digital advertising channel.

To help make this case, one of my portfolio investments, Get Satisfaction!, will hold an event on Thursday, July 26th to unveil recently completed research in this area.

For context, Get Sat powers more than 65,000 external communities around the world (e.g. brands like P&G, Walmart, etc) and enables those companies to capture consumer comments as well as answer support and other product/service questions. Companies can embed Get Sat widgets in their website, FB pages, mobile apps, etc – anywhere customers are likely to engage with a brand – and these widgets directly stream this feedback data into a CRM or support system. Companies typically Get Sat to off load their support organizations because knowledgeable users often can answer questions that other users might have faster and better than the company’s own support team.

Get Sat sits right in the heart of the social media tsunami so it’s important for them to have a strong understanding of what is going on in the market. As a result, they recently completed a large market surveyto help them prioritize their next feature list of product offerings.

What the study revealed is that there is a huge gap between how consumers want to engage with brands through social media and how companies are currently using social media. The data shows that the billions of dollars that brands are currently investing in social is virtually a complete waste unless companies also invest in creating a moderated, branded customer community that enables actual customer engagement as an integral part of their social strategy.

While self-serving, Get Sat did not set out to prove this hypothesis, it just came out as a part of a much broader study.

I thought the data would be intriguing to many companies so I encouraged the company to share the results publically.

So, next week, on July 26, 2012, Get Satisfaction and us (InterWest Partners) will share the study and the data. The study was conducted by The Incyte Group – I used them at Siebel Systems to help us identify key markets and unique product/market offerings. Incyte surveyed thousands of U.S. consumers to understand their preferences when researching a brand’s products and services on the Internet.

Wendy Lea, the CEO of Get Satisfaction and Ray Wang, from the Software Insider, are going to host the event. And, some of the industry’s most forward-looking marketing executives will be there as well. It will take place at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood Shores from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. I encourage you to attend and see the data for yourself.

You can register here.

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  • I agree with you 100% Bruce. 

    I would expand the scope, however, and include not only the customer support objectives that you and GetSat are looking at here, but also to the customer acquisition that many brands are pursuing through social media marketing. 

    The first wave in social media marketing was focused on engagement, and brands published  contests, games, etc. into social networks just for the sake of running up their fan and follower counts. 

    But marketers are now finding that engagement for engagement’s sake on social networks fails to fill the funnel. Instead of “candy” content, marketers are realizing that they need to produce truly engaging content positioned at the intersection of customers’ interests and the brand’s expertise. While this content should be distributed through social networks, its home is on the brand’s site itself, to which the content pulls prospects, where they are one click away from learning about the product offering and moving down the funnel. 

    So I agree (as I’ve written about before) that social marketing will change drastically. Brands must become real publishers of compelling content to win leads through social. (And btw, my company is leading brands through this transformation). This, in fact, is the next giant trend in “social.”