Friends, Fans and Follows of Social Marketing

Reading the post relating to this topic by Brian Solis left me a little cold. I tend to hate anything relating to marketing yet find myself deep in the belly of the beast day to day and have done for many years, it is a love hate relationship which I cannot escape.

My main gripe comes from the source of the data. It is hardly surprising that if you review a study paid for by ExactTarget that it shows email still comfortably in the middle of the playing field neither being good or bad for generating sales. Considering ExactTarget started as an ESP and continue to promote email marketing as it’s key driver it’s going to look favourable. I am of course not claiming wildly that they have fudged figures, of course not, but you wouldn’t publish a report for Ferrari stating that 80/100 members of the public surveyed stated that Ferrari’s were only driven by moustachoid middle aged men who hate their wives and have gloves to match the tan leather interior.

Here’s what I think of the 3 channels that were reviewed.

Facebook

Jake and Amir from College Humour offer exclusive content to their 'fans' through Facebook

If you ‘like’ a ‘brand’ on facebook it is for the sole purpose of aquiring special deals or content of some form. This could be from the out-take footage from College Humor to discount codes for GAP. You reluctantly put up with the stream of other non-targeted data passed through your wall until you eventually hide all updates and notices from the brand. At this stage you either forget them entirely only discovering them after having the compulsive ‘friends’ spring clean and ditching anything that you haven’t read or heard from in some time, or you delete it straight off the bat after getting the 1 offer you had read about elsewhere to have reluctantly signed up to start with.

If you have friended a brand, the brand is too lazy to use the correct non-obtrusive channels for marketing themselves on the platform and you should drop the regardless.

Twitter

Eurogamer Expo use twitter to provide a variety of services from news on new exhibitors to ticket specials and industry related offers

Again, unlike the stated driver for following brands on Twitter, it is my belief that most people end up following a brand for 2 core reasons.

The first is news. Having the brands latest info run through a brief stream of digestible data is preference to having to bookmark there site and regularly check back in case something happens. Brands have wised up to this realising the true key for Twitter is exactly this, to act as a link through to your new content. It is very hard for a brand to be able to use Twitter in its correct format which is conversation. Some brands do however succeed with this. MailChimp recently helped me with a problem and regularly I have contact from service providers across a variety of industries via comments I have made on Twitter, and this is where the second and larger of the two reasons for following a brand on Twitter comes from. Complaining.

Telephone call centers are a bust. It is the single most frustrating aspect of any customer service offering provided by companies worldwide. Email forms via websites go into black holes on the other side of the sun, eclipsing you everyone once in a while with a dull auto responder to confirm you are being ignored.

Twitter has been very good to me in this aspect. In the last two years I have obtained free watches, headphones, discounts on Broadband, Cable TV, free lunches and meals and a variety of other goods and services simply by complaining about a brand on Twitter. For a brand this behaviour is the equivalent of standing in the Calor Gas show room with 3rd degree burns all over your body, a propane tank still fused to your skin screaming ‘YOU DID THIS TO ME!’

They don’t like it and because potentially 100,000s of people are watching they have to react and react promptly and effectively.

For the consumer this is hugely beneficial and if you have a positive outcome you are likely to then follow the brand and of course become an advocate. I have certainly done this myself when I have received positive experiences from particular brands. The reverse has been the case for others.

Email

I asked Mishon Mackay to email me confirmation of a property viewing. Within 7 minutes I had received 2 emails with generic untargeted listings.

What a wicked web we weave. Email is the chameleon of the marketing world, it can be informative yet intrusive, enlightening yet dark. There are so many problems with email. The biggest for most large brands is that it can be like pissing in the wind, ultimately there’s going to be splashback on your jeans. With both Facebook and Twitter there is a single key factor to assuring your content is recieved – the recipient has to have requested the information via that channel. They allow you to be part of their life and essentially state ‘if you want to start a relationship with me I am ready to be woo’d’.

Email on the other hand is predominantly harvested. I haven’t signed up to a newsletter since Think Geek and Maplins started sending me messages that were giant sliced images that I could no longer skim read and come back to on my lunch break. More often than not we are forced to supply our email addresses to register on a shopping cart service in order to buy a certain product or service.

before the item is even delivered to our door we’re inundated with irreverant toss. It is aggressive and results in a high percentage of unsubscribes within the first 10 minutes of a message being received. You have expressed to your prospective friend, fan or follower that you are demanding, domineering and will stop at nothing to get your way. Email is the tyrant of this marketing trifecta and to date is still the most unengaged format of them all.

Summary

The biggest issue with this study is that it was done through ExactTarget clients but it isn’t clear as to whether this is clients reporting back on their clients, leads or their (ExactTarget) clients or leads.

If the figures are accumilated from ExactTarget cients (none of which I can find as Advocates on their own site) then they’re the wrong kind anyway because brands themselves have a fantastic way of duking the stats so that even the Mayor of Baltimore would be proud of.

The study doesn’t show the power that ‘friends’ have in this equation at all. Friends essentially are, as referenced at the start of Brian’s article the audience of your audience. I would like to see the next step being that when you have gained an advocate, how do they influence their friends? I regularly will read articles that have been tweeted or posted by a friend because we have similar interests, that is how I found this particular report, but does that mean I will go back to source of my own accord? And are referrals in this way considered unique visitors? returning visitors or diverted traffic?

Still, in 2011 the marketing industry is attempting to moneties new revenue channels before the snow show has cleared from the picture. As savage a businessman Mark Zuckerberg is, he never intended for Facebook to be monetised, by that I mean advertising was not on his list of priorities, but he caved and allowed banner ads, later this year (slated for July) majority investors in Facebook, including Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, have won majority vote on allowing in-app purchasing to be made possible opening up the platform as a true market square. By July it could be all over for #fb, if we learned anything from Myspace nobody is infallible.

Twitter for all intent and purpose is still, like Wikipedia a free service run as not-for-profit.The recent change in their own marketing strategy shows signs of weakness in their original plan with the introduction of 101 Twitter for Business, again a concenpt born from push from the marketing world.

These things were made for people, to interact and engage with one another. Frankly if you’re a brand – bugger off back to the print world and between the ever increasing number of ad-breaks (in the United Kingdom) where we can ignore you as we always have.

By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I’m doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: ‘There’s gonna be a joke comin’ up.’ There’s no fuckin’ joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself…borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something…rid the world of your evil fuckin’ presence.
Bill Hicks