Friday, 5 August 2011

Kejserens nye Klæd- Andersen’s short tale and Anderson’s long tail-- Is social media’s contribution to sales & marketing overblown?

Marketing Week’s (Volume 34Nos. 30 & 31) Mark Ritson has challenged what he sees as the overblown and oversold claims of social media’s contribution to sales & marketing in seven areas.
Like many marketing pundits he does not always get things right - his prediction that the i newspaper would fail has not be proven (yet?)
However Ritson is very good for us all because his provocative and quasi impertinence gets me thinking. His challenges to business effectiveness of social media include:-

1. Is social media really a relatively low cost?
2. What actual ROI do you get with social media?
3. Social media’s advocates’ dubious claims that it is about more than ROI - it’s about conversations/dialogue/community are erroneous.
4 The successful case studies of social media’s impact are far outweighed by the case study failures.
5. Social media is maybe a new platform but it does not change all the old rules
6. The role of social media as a research medium is a poor source of consumer insight
7. Many big brands doing it doing social media either out of naïve following of fashion or fear of looking out of touch.

Mark Ritson’s powerfully provocative articles in Marketing Week in the last two weeks have positioned him as the child in the updated story of the Emperor’s new clothes.

The original story is about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that are invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent.
When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

The contemporary story is about the weavers ( social media agencies) of the Web with their clothes of Social media and the Emperors are the marketing managers who buy their 'invisible' clothes.

Whether or not one feels Professor Ritson is acting as the child screaming ‘naked’ or as a reactionary curmudgeon he has ruffled a few feathers in the sales & marketing world.

His response to the challenge as to why so many big brands are spending so much time and money in social media is an uncomfortable swipe at marketing managers.

He accuses those under the age of 40 as naïve as they are attracted to anything new and cool to be usually irresistible and those of us over 40 as paranoid at looking out of touch.

Mark Ritson challenges Social Media as a weak form of research or consumer insight because he does not trust a research method that excludes 90% of the population? He says that social media provides entirely unreliable data and because that is the proportion who don’t use Twitter in the UK.

“Maybe you can use social media for some half-decent qualitative insights into a small minority of the market but you can get these insights without actually engaging in social media yourself. Three focus groups would be cheaper and more insightful.” Ritson says.

He challenges claims that Social media is a new platform that changes all the old rules. The facts don’t stand up to examination, its exponents have created new arguments based on nonsensical facts.

Ritson cites Columbia University’s Duncan Watts who points out: “There is an enormous tendency for marketers to only notice successful case studies of social media and forget the huge number that fail completely.”
Ritson disagrees with the claim that Social media is about more than ROI e.g. it’s about "conversations/dialogue/community."

He corrects that view by stating
“It’s about making money for your company.”

Last week, a leading supermarket’s new group digital marketing officer announced he wants digital marketing to “enrich and add value to the customer journey”.
What Ritson suggests is that that person should have said is how he can use social media to sell more tea bags and panty liners.

As Pepsi’s recent disastrous results have demonstrated, when you forget you are in the business of selling cans of soda pop and start spending your money on building communities and supporting causes- you get creamed by your red and white competition.
Most brands aren’t comparing the costs of engaging in social media with the opportunity cost of spending that money elsewhere on less cool media options.

In his crusade as the 'voice of sanity' to challenge claims on the effectiveness of social media in sales & marketing, he admits thatwhen Social media works there are some astonishing success stories from consumer goods, B2B and services marketing.

However Mark Ritson reflects on how poorly most social media campaigns turn out to be in terms of impact.

Here are four examples he uses to advance his views.

1. Deloitte’s recent report that only 20% of apps produced by major consumer and healthcare brands were downloaded enough to be meaningfully measured.

2.After eighteen months Best Buy have only managed a ‘paltry’ 15,000 followers on facebook and 5,000 Twitter followers.

3. Despite Seat car sales of 30,000 units in the UK barely 5,000 like Seat UK on facebook.

4. Despite selling more than 1 million tubs of ice cream every month only 5,500 consumers now follow Ben & Jerry’s on Twitter.

He warns
“ If you have opted for a social media budget that is going to be allocated exclusively on Twitter and Facebook, you are not budgeting or planning your marketing properly.”

Is Mark Ritson implying as in the original story of the Emperor's new clothes that we in sales and marketing are "unfit for our positions, stupid, or incompetent."?

Associate editor of Marketing Ruth Mortimer was rather calmer in her editorial piece of 4th august 2011 suggesting that enthusiasm always outstrips measurement and sense in the early days of any discipline in marketing. Soon we will see social media no longer as a stand alone channel but part of the overall toolkit.
She mentions that the much vaunted predictions from the dotcom boom with its predictions of the end of traditional bricks and mortar high street, banks or TV were a little exaggerated. The internet is just one channel among many communication channels. All need careful weaving in the overall marketing mix. There is no one killer marketing challenge.
If the recent markteingLive exhibition 2011 was anything to go buy- one may agree. I was taken how some of the oldest ways to communicate were used by exhibitors to attract attention, stimulate interest and promote desire and action ( AIDA) were used. The Sandwich Board (Wo)Man still seems to be a useful challenge beyond the Golf sale and apocalypse markets. See thes examples from Marketing Live 2011.
Variations of sandwich boards included a traditional sandwich board , one using a LED screen, to post it notes made into a coat to be peeled off by passers by and a way to attract to the show by integrating a Social media campaign with Twitter take a photo on your smart phone and tweet it.

1 comment:

  1. I think mark presents a stronger case and dont be afraid