We see the promise of free media, a chance to tell stories, to reach people at their passion points; real-time social media seems like a no brainer, but it also seems we’re not thinking.
Social media statistically is a lose-lose game. A decent strategically curated tweet from Coca Cola or Oreo may be retweeted up to a few hundred times at best, yet the lazy Delta tweet is mocked around the world. It makes the airline look ignorant and forces apologies from the highest levels.
As an industry, have we adequately defined what success looks like on social media? Do we know why we are there? Is the benefit worth the risk?
We need to ask some big questions.
Is it wise for global brands to act locally on a global platform?
Delta got in trouble for lazily using a stereotypical but inaccurate imagine for the USA’s win over Ghana. Did anyone think that a company, whose entire role in business is in connecting the world, should so divisive as to celebrate any single nations victory?
Do normal people actually care about brand Tweets?
The metrics of Twitter are terrible. Oreo, the darling of the real-time social media movement by most measures, seems to have only about 150,000 active followers. That seems OK, but we live in a world where 180,000 people work in social media.
Could it be that that social-media postings only ever really reach a professional social media audience? It’s odd that the only time anyone beyond a funky social media agency hears about a tweet is when it’s gone wrong.
What if all social media metrics were pointless?
We overvalue what we can easily measure; thus, what gets measured gets done.
In the social-media world, it’s impossible to measure sales uplift or brand metrics but easy to measure likes, views, retweets and more. Thus, the goal of social media becomes to boost interaction at all costs. Now your image of a cat may get more likes than ever before, but does it boost your beer brand?
It reflects the chaos in marketing.
Real-time social media seems to be the best example of the current chaos and no confidence in modern marketing, a world where agencies jump on every opportunity — for fear of missing out.
Was creating expensive “social-media newsrooms” to respond immediately to every brand crisis a good idea or did it set us up for higher expectations? Ask yourselves:
- Is using social media for customer service really just giving our angriest customers a big new megaphone?
- Do you think Apple really lose sales due to not being on Twitter?
- Does the most popular consumer brand in the Twitter-verse (Samsung Mobile) gains sales from their 8.8m followers?
In future, modern technology and real-time marketing will come together to form powerful new advertising experiences. It will be live contextual data used to render personalized messages and automated ad buying in real time. It will be super responsive ad buys designed to maximize news stories. It may be jumping on memes, to allow brands to leverage fast trending stories.
It won’t be irrelevant meaningless images from global brands to an audience of social-media professionals, or at worst, offensive messages that explode in the real world.