We didn’t see the film “Social Network,” so we’re not sure if the guys building Facebook talked at all early on about advertising revenue…or just the opportunity to check out pics of chicks. And we don’t know if the other side of the famous “Twitter napkin” contained anything resembling a business model.
But we do know these two ventures represent the most successful pure-play social media businesses. And as businesses, they need lots of revenue and (eventual) profit to keep the capital flowing in, to pay the staff and keep the lights on (or in Twitter’s early case, keep the servers from crashing).
Which brings us to our third type of “content marketing” in this series – social media content. Oxymoronic in its purest sense. Overpromising, underdelivering in its commercial sense.
There are two “sub” types to assess: (1) marketers’ advertising on social networks, and (2) marketers’ own attempts at social media.
1. Social Media As An Advertising Platform
Those six words are central to the survival of social networks like Twitter and Facebook (unless each decides one day to charge admission or go e-commerce in a major way). Think about that in a big picture context.
We are reminded every day that consumers hate all forms of advertising and marketing. They hate it on TV, they hate it on radio, in magazines, on highway signs, they hate it in their postal mailbox. Yet, we are also reminded daily, companies should apportion more and more of their marketing budgets on digital marketing.
Where are the studies that show consumers don’t hate it online as much as off? Where are the innovations that go beyond 15-year-old banner ad formats and copycat sponsored feeds? And where is the statistically relevant, broad, and temporal research that proves it is more effective?
To the point of the latter, today we were once again treated to a bold headline: “Facebook Ads Generate Better Response…” with this even bolder claim:
“…a whopping 85% of Facebook users are more inclined to pay attention to -- and/or click -- on a newsfeed ad served to them on a computer.”
The research method in this case? “A sample of 735 adult Facebook users.” Called on the phone or polled online, we don’t know which. But either way, it is research about “stated behavior, one time” and it is meaningless. We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it: Why, in the supposed era of supposed Big Data, are we not getting this information from real digital behavior?
You can guess why.
Meantime, any marketer who funds this type of “content” without such proof is doing no better and no worse than advertising on radio.
2. Social Media As A Social Platform For Marketers
This was never in the original plans. It was almost a throw-away, months in. “Sure, let companies have their own profiles and pages. It will only make them more certain to spend ad dollars with us.”
Which leaves us with the nine words every social media manager at every company cries out every morning: “What the f&&k am I going to post today?!???!!!” Then they pull something out da butt. And another brand stays “authentic” one day more.
Until we get the embarrassment JPMorgan suffered this week. There have been a ton of similar cases in prior years, all of them swept under the “marketing teaching moment” rug. As with ad spend, there is no definitive quantitative proof that the effort behind this type of content is anywhere near breakeven.
On both counts – social media advertising and marketers’ own social content – we are only in the fifth inning of the hype phase. The words in today’s post will be drowned out for a couple more years by the cries of “Try it, you’ll like it!”