Don’t be Impulsive with Social Media Marketing

 In Digital Marketing, Marketing Insights

“Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise it’s not better.”

Avinash Kaushik

Social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) is in vogue among connected consumers and many companies are hoping to capitalize on this marketing avenue to promote their business. I was curious to know how effective (or not) social media has been for other marketing aviation professionals — are they truly walking the walk, rather than talking (tweeting) the talk — I recently posted the above quote on LinkedIn to learn what experiences my colleagues have had using Social Media.

Troy B. reported, “Frankly, we’re loving it. . . When I reach someone who buys an airline ticket, parks in on-airport parking, purchases food, beverages and a magazine, brags about our WiFi and speedy screening lines, and plans to do it again soon — all based on info I’ve tweeted — I start to like the results.”

However, some are not 100% confident in this colleague’s social media experience.

“… there are a great many people who have learned the hard way that the medium is far less benign that was first assumed,” said Ronald K. “A lesson of both teenage sex and social media is that both are best done with adequate protection in place.”

I agree social media can often be impulsive, not to be taken lightly with its implications, and often times regrettable, not unlike teen sex.

And also concede that as a customer service tool, social media may well be worth the time and effort, especially for brand/image sensitive businesses. However, many of my own clients are in B2B space, and I hesitate to recommend Facebook or Twitter as a marketing tool because it is hard to quantify its effectiveness. I know from experience placing an ad for these clients will make the phones ring, and public relations will build awareness.

Steve E. said, “If you compare dollar-to-dollar spending, I’ll take social media over standard media any day as the immediate discussion that ensues is direct and instant and something that far exceeds anything standard advertising has to offer.”

But how well will social media generate new businesses as compared to traditional media is the question I need answered before recommending social media to my clients.

Allow me this hypothetical:

Using traditional marketing tools, say I run a 6-month, $10,000 advertising campaign for a client in a trade publication reaching their target audience. Assume this campaign generates 100 leads and the client closes 10. The cost per new customer acquisition is $1,000.

Alternatively, the client contracts to develop and monitor a social media program. We spend on average one hour a day building their network, making posts, responding to queries and, at the end of six months, the program has also yielded 10 sales. Assuming $100 per hour is charged (social media needs to be monitored by qualified staff, thus a higher per hour fee), then the cost to the client is $13,000! (5 hrs/week over 26 weeks = 130 hours x $100/hour). This is significantly higher than traditional advertising.

Granted, one can argue with my numbers in my hypothetical example, but to do social media effectively, you have to commit to high level of time management, and you also need to highly capable people managing your social media programs (otherwise more harm than good may be generated). With these facts in mind, social media may not be the holy grail of marketing as many proponents suggest.

Social media has a definite role in marketing, such as customer service and company announcements. But as an effective sales generating tool, I remain skeptical. I continue to encourage my clients to wait before they act impulsively and regret it.

Much like I advise the teenagers in my life.

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