Social Media Myths

As you can probably imagine, social media marketing permeates throughout our conversations. Instead of a separate, siloed activity, social integrates into our entire approach and our recommendations to clients. So, to say one study stands out above all others, is really not accurate. It's just that every once in a while, one causes us to pause and have a great conversation. Gallup's Social Media: The Three Big Myths was one of those studies.

Just to bring you up-to-speed, here are the three areas Gallup covered in the article:

  1. Myth: Social media initiatives drive customer loyalty and acquisition. Fact: Engagement with a brand drives social engagement
  2. Myth: Social networking is an online-only phenomenon. Fact: Social networking predominantly happens offline
  3. Myth: All social networkers are the same. Fact: People use social networks in very different ways - and for very different reasons

Once we got past debating over whether or not these are truly myths, merely mis-uses, or simply old thinking, we all agreed this article starts to understand the customer in a deeper fashion. Whether it's The Customer Engagement Hierarchy as defined by Gallup or Engagement Elements as defined in Liminal or simply a Net Promoter Score, it's important to understand that loyalty comes from more than just sales data. If someone feels valued and confident that the brand is something (or someone) they can trust than she is more likely to come back to the brand. More importantly if that brand flubs, she is more likely to forgive the brand. The point is, if you want to be social media rock stars like Lady Gaga or Sir Richard Branson, you need to put yourself out there. No more hiding behind sales sheets and surveys.

Second, where key influencers make the greatest impact, there is greatest opportunity. In Foursquare is not a Strategy I spoke about how rewarding advocacy needs to support the goal of increasing the value of your customer database asset. We like how Gallup drives home that digital-only social media initiatives are leaving far too many prospects and customers untapped, because their research shows the most frequent type of social networking is still analog. Social certainly makes it easier to reward for advocacy, unless you want to go around spying on your customers' conversations. Yet, another point is important: non-transactional rewards need to be incorporated into your relationship marketing plans.

Third, a frustration we all face on a daily basis is the siloes within organizations. For a customer to be truly loyal, brands need to deliver great customer experiences throughout all their channels (and learn to resolve a bad customer experience quickly and efficiently). Yet, when we talk to companies about digital communities and social monitoring to address customer service needs we hear, "How much sales will this generate for me?" Well, how much sales does your customer service team generate for you now? The point is, the loyalty marketer is not incented based on dissentor to advocate metrics... And so they find it hard to make a business case for social. It's tough, yet companies really need to push hard to create more customer-centric organizations.

In the end, acquiring new customers is difficult (and expensive) and we need to revert back to the philosophy that keeping your current customers happy is a lot easier and inexpensive than focusing on acquiring new ones. We won't name the brands, yet the three of us could name a handful that lost our business through the years, will never get it back, and won't get our friends' business either if we can help it. It's time to invest in your most valuable company asset - your current customers.

With support from Andrea Arabia and Teresa Caro