3 social media myths that destroy margins, the brand (& careers)

seinfeld restaurant keeping up on social mediaI was watching Seinfeld a few days back and in one episode (The Parking Garage) Jerry has an interesting conversation with Elaine:

JERRY: Why do I always have the feeling that everybody’s doing something better than me on Saturday afternoons?

ELAINE: This is what people do. 

JERRY: No they don’t. They’re out on some big picnic. They’re cooking burgers. They’re making out on blankets. They’re not at some mall in Jersey watching their friends trying to find the world’s cheapest air-conditioner.

Jerry and Elaine’s discussion maps quite well to how some businesses feel about social media. There’s the fear that if one does not have a social presence, then one’s automatically falling behind. So companies are getting on the bandwagon. I know one company that spent a lot of money on promotional giveaways to build a social follower-base. The followers’ count is now in the high six figures but the e-commerce director is questioning whether this has been worth it. There are going to be some hard decisions leading up to the next fiscal year. In order to avoid making the same mistakes, I list the top 3 social media myths that should be done away with.

Myth 1: Social engagement is spray-and-pray

Social media websites were built to help people connect with each other, to enable people to share their experiences with others, to help them better interact with the world. But the analogy also extends to brands. Use Facebook for your brand much the way you would you would interact with your followers. The buzz you create around your product launch via social media yields a real lift to your product sales.


describe the imageTip: Calibrate your social media engagement around the volume, the duration of buzz to achieve a lift in your core metrics.


Myth 2: All that matters is buzz

This myth is especially dangerous to a marketer’s career. The ‘Likes’ or ‘Followers’ or ‘Shares’ are interesting, but the effort in building social presence has to be quantified with sales. You have to demonstrate that the effort spent on the social channels is having a measurable and incremental impact to the bottom line. For perspective here’s a quote from Adam Smith:

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

describe the imageTip: Not every ‘follower’ is a current or potential customer. Direct your effort in the right direction.


Myth 3: Social media engagement follows the same script

Here’s a tough pill to swallow.

The relationship between social media engagement and its effect on your bottom line varies from business to business.

When we build statistical models to map the revenue impact of social engagment – a few parameters that we model are

  1. the threshold the buzz must reach before there is a perceptible bump in purchases;
  2. the transience of the bump observed in (1).

The two parameters modeled above vary from client to client. The variation depends on the product and the target market – especially the segment of the market you have engaged as your social ‘followers’.

describe the imageTip: Past social media successes are not a necessary indicator of future success.


What’s social engagement worth?

The key is to measure, and to be accountable for the ROI on social media engagement. To see how a Senior Brand Manager got a handle on her social spend download the case study below.

What's social engagement worth? A Case Study in Revenue Attribution
tom’s diner … restaurant @112th st & broadway New York City, picture taken by ilahbocaj and used under license from creative commons.

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