Last week MediaPost's own Joe Mandese (I know, he has a great name, but we are not the same person) wrote an article on new research released by Knowledge Networks. According to the study, social media, like Twitter and Facebook, are poor marketing mediums.
From Joe's column: "Among other things, the study finds that less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these social networks for 'guidance on purchase decisions' in any of nine product and/or service categories, and that only 16% of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites."
I really have a hard time with where to begin. Let's start with "less than 5%" of social media users "regularly" turning to social media for guidance on purchase decisions. I don't know about any of you, but I don't turn to TV for guidance on purchase decisions, I don't turn to radio for guidance on purchase decisions, and I certainly don't turn to outdoor billboards for guidance on purchases, yet all three can be effective marketing media. I turn to TV and radio to be entertained, and it's up to content publishers and marketers to work together to integrate marketing in a meaningful and impactful way.
This leads me to the second point that "only 16%" are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites. Is it that social media is not convincing me to buy, or is it that I just don't need whiter teeth, a job that pays me to stay at home, or a new dating service? I mean, these are the things I see advertised most often on social sites, but I guess the social sites just aren't moving product. Marketers and agencies need to figure out how to tap into social media in order for it to be an effective medium, but first they at least have to be there in scale.
The column continues: "'Obviously, a lot of people are using social media, but they are not explicitly turning to it for marketing purposes, or for finding out what products to buy. It's really about connecting with friends, or connecting with other people,' says Dave Tice, vice president and group account director at Knowledge Networks, and the top analyst behind the report. 'What we're seeing is that word-of-mouth is still the No. 1 most influential source, followed by TV...'"
This point blows my mind. I thought that it had already been established that effective social media campaigns generate word-of-mouth. Online is about people connecting to each other, as mentioned above, and if brands can get people to talk to each other about their brands, they are in effect generating word-of-mouth. So how can word-of-mouth be the most influential source, while at the same time social media, one giant word-of-mouth engine, is ineffective?
I am a horribly biased source, so feel free to blast me in the comments section below or on Twitter @joemarchese.
Maybe I have it all wrong, but all this report tells me is that marketers have not figured out how to participate in social media effectively, not that social media isn't effective. In fact, since word-of-mouth is so important, doesn't social media have MORE potential than any other medium? If there was nothing but crappy TV ads being produced, would we say that television is a poor marketing medium?