The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on May 15, 2008

Social media marketing might have a limited future

Social media marketing might have a limited future
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

“Marketers have no idea how to use social media”. Nate Elliot made a clear statement at Next08 this afternoon. He’s working for JupiterResearch, a New York-based research firm that interviews 10,000 executives from Europe and the US every year. So he’s the kind of guy who knows how to use social media to engage the desired target audience. There are two major problems in this field. The first one is clear, marketers just don’t get the new technologies and the fundamental changes in the way people interact with brands. Although they spend 30,000 dollars on a campaign, half of the branded social network pages only have 1,000 friends or less. Secondly, more than 75 percent of the marketers doesn’t measure whether their campaigns were successfully engaging the audience. And only 15 percent measures brand metrics like ‘awareness’ and ‘attention’.

Nate Elliot from JupiterResearch on Next08So while consumers are talking about their brands online, marketers do a bad job in participating in those conversations. “If no one solves these problems, social marketing will have a limited future”, said Elliot. In order to prevent an early death of this new marketing branch, JupiterResearch has created some rules for social marketing – based on similarities in successful campaigns. Elliot” “They’re not revolutionary, but a vast majority of the marketers makes these mistakes”.

Rule 1: Your messages aren’t going to promote themselves

Although a lot of marketers trust on the viral effect of Internet campaigns, 85 percent of them found no viral pass along. So the viral magic only works for less than 15 percent of the campaigns (which I think is still a surprisingly large percentage). Elliot gave the example of the Intel Powers Music campaign. The chip producer started a contest to find the best MySpace bands and created “a really good site” The marketing team realized they had to run payed ads to get people’s attention. So they did. After three days, Intel stopped advertising, expecting the viral hype to take off. It didn’t happen… So lesson no. 1, you have to keep promoting your branded page as viral pass along is scarse.

Rule 2: Focusing on engagement can double your ROI

Most marketers treat their branded social network pages as micro sites. “The Rambo MySpace page looked exactly like There was no interactivity, no games, nor contest. I see that happening over and over again”, Elliot complained. He stresses that at least a little bit of interactivity can generate on average twice as many friends. A good example is online retail store Zappos. Their CEO Tony Hsieh uses Twitter to promote his store. “It really works”, said Elliot, “it puts a personal face on a huge company.” The consequence of this kind of marketing is that it becomes part of your life. Elliot: “Tony has to update 25 a 30 times a day, just like everybody.”

Rule 3: if you’re not measuring results, you throw away money.

“It’s a little bit scary to learn that more than 75 percent of the marketers isn’t measuring the results of their campaigns. If you’re not measuring you don’t know whether your money is well spent nor if your campaigns are getting better”. No matter how you do it, set a goal and measure against it! When the audience asked Elliot for some ways of measuring, he didn’t really give a satisfying answer. Of course you can measure the number of friends, but that doesn’t say a lot about engagement. You can also use technology to study the online behavior of visitors or take surveys to find out what your consumers think. “Eventually, marketers have to connect the dots”, Elliot concluded.

Further reading

I was slightly shocked to learn that marketers make so many mistakes on the field of social marketing. If you count yourself to one of those marketers, I suggest your start following Muhammad Saleem, whose well-know as THE social media marketing expert and marketing guru Seth Godin, as he blogs about the way you should think these days.