flowing motion

1st secret that social media marketers have been keeping to themselves

Posted on: October 27, 2009

Welcome to the first of the secrets social media marketers don’t tell you. Your job is not to get bigger. Your job is to change your market entirely!  Read on, and tell me if you agree that social media marketers have been oddly silent in this regard!

Conventional marketing requires massive numbers

The industrial age works on size. To make things cheap, we must make a lot. To make a profit from things that are cheap, we must sell a lot.

Competition is fierce. Look-a-likes are everywhere and the consumer is dazzled by choice and confused by the advertising that is in their face where ever they look.

It’s a vicious circle. To be noticed, we must get out there and compete with other advertising. So we add some more. And the competition is ramped up.

In the end, consumers learn to blank out and pay no attention to us.

Marketers are smart; they look for qualified customers

Marketers are on to this problem and they try to find ‘qualified customers’. They try to pay attention to people who have self-selected in some way.  So they sell us a loyalty card and once they have our email address, they bombard us with emails for ever after.

Google gives us free email. Then they serve adverts to match the content of our messages.

Both Google and Marketers are very numbers oriented and they very clinically track the number of ads we click and the emails we open (did you know that?). Google is happy with a 0.5% click through rate (CTR). They are happy if 1 out of 200 partially qualified customers responds to an ad and clicks on it.

It seems we open 2 to 3% of marketing ad that are sent to us. The rest are deleted unopened.

Social media marketers are even smarter; they know we listen to our friends

Social media works on a simple principle. We are more likely to open an email sent by friend than by a  company. Our open rate might even go up to 10%! (Do you leave 90% of email from friends unopened? It seems people do.)

Even with this ‘unopen’ rate, the increase from 0.5% to 2% to 10% is large enough to make the social media effect, or echo chamber effect, very interesting to marketers.

Why these tactics aren’t the whole story

These three tactics

  • Do more. Get more
  • Talk to people who are interested. They buy more
  • Get people to bring their friends. Half the selling is done by a friend’s recommendations

are good, but not enough. This is why.

We have worked hard to get more people. We carefully talk only to people already interested in us.  And they bring their friends.  I am all for focus and specialization but our market is getting smaller and smaller.

And it will continue to get smaller. Our personal networks and habits are changing continually. Slowly, but continually. We shed friends and gain friends the way we shed our skins. Slowly, but surely.

Social media marketers are oddly quiet about the way we replenish and refresh our networks.  This is where I think we should pay more attention.

An example from classical marketing

Coca-cola, the masters of classical marketing don’t change their product from decade to decade (lest its consumers revolt as they once did).  Nonetheless, they continually renew their relationship with the market.

Long before we we gave Gen Y a name, Coca-cola had worked out their character and formulated their market response.

They also continually look for new channels. I remember the day they put a cool box onto the mini-buses that work the streets of Johannesburg. Coca-cola have people whose sole job is to find new channels. That’s what social media should be doing!

What we learn from classical marketing that social media marketers have kept quiet

Yes, it is cool to expand our current customer base. Yes, it is cool to strengthen our market with connections between customers. Yes, it is cool to listen to what our customers are saying and to give them what they want.

It is also smart to add change to constancy. We should also ask whom of our visitors are new – not only in name but in character and need. We should challenge our social media analysts to come up with something like a new channel – something refreshingly surprising about the market.

  • What do we understand that we never understood before?
  • Who has come window shopping who never came before?

Social media marketers have been holding out on us. Our job is not only to get more customers – tough as that might be.  Our job is to map the changing landscape. I haven’t seen any metrics yet that report change.  That’s where the value is.

Next of the three secrets tomorrow!

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