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Is AWARENESS Still The Primary Focus in Marketing?

November 18, 2011

I stumbled upon this interesting article written from somebody who is, quite obviously, in the social media trenches. Three excellent points made in this article are worth further embellishment (click on the pic to read the full article):

1. Current Social Media Platforms were NOT built, nor intended to support, brands, products or promotional advertising. Like many internet ventures, advertising becomes the de facto business model (and primary revenue generator) long after conception and development of the initial idea. Why is this important? Call it “context,” but it’s critical to keep this in mind as more-and-more brands clamor to invest in social media. Facebook was never designed to work for marketers (I don’t recall any scene in “The Social Network” where the Mark Zuckerberg character stressed about  ways to attract and engage advertisers).  Think of it this way–imagine a neighbor is having a large party that you’re attending. Half-way through the event there’s a knock at the door, and in strolls 15 sales representatives from various local businesses. Each proceed to attempt to distract you, “pitch” you on their wares, with the sole intention of asking you if you LIKE them. Intrusive is a word that comes to mind. Now, imagine a similar party one week later. Instead, sprinkled throughout the party are attendees who are already a part of the social community, and who happen to represent various local businesses. Instead of “pitching” their wares, they have authentic, one-on-one conversations with the various party-goers, and get to know each of them better, and as individuals. They recognize, and accept going-in, that not every party-goer will have an interest, need or desire for their wares. But for the few that do, they mutually agree to reconnect at another time and place, in a setting and “context” that is more conducive to doing business.

It is, and always will be, imperative to keep the “context” of the social media environment top-of-mind as you plan and engage in social media on behalf of your brand.

2. “LIKE” is NOT a Purchase. Call me a cynic, but I get a kick out of the number of marketers who stress and over-invest in getting “LIKED.” Honestly, it reminds me of high school. Yes, I “get” that it happens to be the currency of the social media landscape. But let’s use some common sense for just a second…being LIKED is not the same as making a sale. From my vantage, too often the desire to be “LIKED” can actually work AGAINST your brand. My observation is that too many brands use discounting, incentives, and whatever monetary means is necessary to ramp-up LIKES. Effectively, they could be making some very basic marketing mistakes: a) by using the discount magnet, they could be attracting the most unprofitable group of new customers; b) they are conditioning their new customers to buy on incentive or discount, and reduce the chance of continued re-purchase at full rate; c) they risk pissing off their loyal, profitable group of existing customers.

3. The largest media network in the world. At the most basic level, the primary reason so many marketers wet their pants over social media is simple–it represents the largest media network in the world, and the prospect of reaching one-sixth of the world with my message is just too much to resist. This way of thinking harkens back to the “I Can Buy Awareness,” TV network days when the bulk of advertising dollars were spent on network television (anyone remember Pets.com? Super Bowl ad from 2000?  What was the brand icon? What ever happened to it?). I find it ironic, and a tad pathetic, that so many marketers take the limited view that social media is just another advertising network. The size of the network is totally and completely irrelevant. What IS important: a)whether it has a concentration of the types of people with whom I want to do business, and that I can identify, reach and engage efficiently; b) if / how I can best use the context, tools and principle reasons people have naturally gathered together, and the HONEST determination that my brand fits in; c) whether I can engage and get to know enough of them to make the investment worthwhile; d) whether I can demonstrate that the investment (time, money, all resources) results in more sales–enough to offset the investment.

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