Friday, February 24, 2017

Is It Time to Separate the "Social" From the "Media"?

“The fact is that much of the social media dogma we take as gospel has been wrong from the start. As a result, brands are wasting good money to chase irrelevant or even damaging social media outcomes, and the required improvements are not minor adjustments. In many cases, the wrong departments have hired the wrong people to do the wrong things evaluated with the wrong measures.”

I read this interesting article last week in a class.

The author, Augie Ray, said social media marketing has become a house of cards, because "organic social media stopped working" and “social ads aren’t social; they’re just ads."

According to Augie, when marketers see social media as a platform for branded contents, they are already on the wrong track. Because:

1) You seldom get the message to your audience.
Facebook reach for top brands' posts was just 2% of their fans in 2014, and that number decrease further in 2015. In addition, customers work hard to block branded content. Use of ad blocking software is on the rise, having gone up by 41% from 2014 to 2015.

2) Even if customers see your branded content, they do not trust it.
In the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer Study, the majority of countries now sit below 50% with regard to trust in business.

3) Customers expect brands to engage with them, not simply push products.
62% of Millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. 63% expect companies to offer customer service on social media, and one in three social media users prefer to reach out to a brand on social media for customer service.

Based on the reasons above, Augie suggests that we separate the “social” from the “media,” making the social network a platform not for posting branded content, but for managing customer service and relationship.

Generally, people associate social media as a channel for marketing and driving sales. However, from Augie’s perspective, social media would be a responsibility for public relations if it is used to improve customer satisfaction, reputation, loyalty, and retention.

In my opinion, I agree with most of what Augie said—that social media should be a platform to engage with customers and increase loyalty, to get people talking to each other and generate authentic WOM. However, that completely separate the “social” from the “media” goes too far. It is reckless to conclude that branded content is no longer working. After all, it depends on the content. If the branded content created by marketers is fun, shareable, relevant, useful, and meaningful, such as #LikeAGirl or #RealBeauty, I believe that people will connect to it and social networks will be the effective “media.”

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