Charades is a fun game that kids and families play where a person pretends to act like someone else. Participants try to guess who the person is pretending to be. There’s a similar game of charades occurring in the business world. Social media is pretending to be something it’s not. Yet, people can’t seem to guess the correct answer.
Most marketing executives continue to believe that social media offers a great way to grow a brand due to inexpensive advertising costs and the ability to target specific consumer groups. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Social media may be effective at marketing small, start-up brands. But, it’s not very effective at growing big brands. Research is proving that social media is a marketing charade for two reasons.
First, social media tends to attract heavy buyers. People who “like” a company’s Facebook page lean towards the frequent type of purchaser. That makes sense, right? Why would someone who doesn’t buy Coca-Cola “like” Coke’s Facebook page? And, doesn’t every brand manager want to attract more heavy buyers? Yes, but here’s the problem. There are never enough heavy buyers to create substantial growth. For example, only 4% of Coca-Cola buyers actually purchase the beverage once a week or more. More surprising, the typical Coke consumer only purchases 1 – 3 times per year! Brands don’t grow on the backs of heavy buyers. They grow by attracting lots of light buyers. But, social media isn’t good at attracting light, disinterested, buyers. It can only pretend to be good at it.
Second, social media advertising is used by marketers to setup highly-targeted campaigns. For instance, Facebook lets you target people based on specific interests, hobbies, ages, income, location, etc. That’s a fine strategy for small brands and entrepreneurs, but a terrible marketing move for major brands. If the goal is to attract lots of light buyers (as described above), targeting specific parts of the market is counter-productive. Instead, target the whole market. Traditional advertising offers better options to achieve this goal on a large-scale.
Question to Consider:
- If you’re a CEO, marketing executive, or author of a large book brand, are you incorrectly relying on social media to do something it cannot do? Don’t fall for the charade.
- How much of your ad budget and resources do you need to shift away from social media to other channels that reach a wider audience of light buyers?
Advertising is a high stakes game where thousands of dollars can be wasted if the wrong decisions are made. Be wise with your ad budget. Don’t fall for the social media charade.
Jeremiah Zeiset says
Social media is best seen as an accompaniment, not as a driver. Someone who is well known can benefit as it provides a way to interact with fans, but hardly can one grow a brand by using social media. That is our experience, at least.