Insights From An(other) Digital Cave Dweller

I am a social media skeptic.  There, I said it…again.  I believe it has it’s place in the marketing mix but sometimes it’s all anyone wants to talk about and honestly, I just don’t believe it warrants all the attention given it. My primary concerns are that a) the reach of social media for everyday brands is over-estimated and b) the enduring effectiveness of “old” media is under-estimated.

That’s why I always love finding someone smarter than me who agrees.  It’s the “agreeing” part that I love.  (It’s really not that hard to find people smarter than me.)

Professor Mark Ritson, in a recent column wrote about his thoughts on social media.  Here are some of the highlights.

The problem with Twitter is it’s basically clutter

“The average click-through rate for a corporate tweet is around 0.5 per cent. If only one in every 200 followers click on a hyperlink, it represents a depressing proxy for how many people actually notice your tweets in the first place. Second, given the poor general number of followers many brands have achieved on Twitter, the reality, when you multiply out this already small potential audience by 0.05, is a “whole lot of nothing.” Statistically speaking”

Facebook is useless as a marketing tool

“While the billion-plus users of Facebook are impressive, remember that (as the name suggests) social media is for people connecting with people, not brands. Most surveys confirm that around half of Facebook’s user-base would not consider becoming a fan of any brand.  For the remaining half that has befriended a brand, they have done so for only a handful. Add to that the increasingly poor organic reach a brand can achieve to these fans – it’s now thought to be less than 3 per cent – and you have another unimpressive marketing option.”

The exciting medium for 2015 for me will be TV

“Despite a decade of bonkers predictions from our digital friends, TV remains the central source of ‘content’ in the US . And I don’t mean watching it on a mobile or tablet – I mean on a TV. Last year, 98.5 per cent of all TV watching happened on a TV.  Just over 1 per cent of watching took place on tablets, phones and PCs. Not only is TV the totally dominant medium, it’s actually on the increase – we are watching more TV on TVs than we were 10 years ago. Since the arrival of social media, US households have responded by watching more, not less, TV.”

Social media has some decent numbers, but radio kicks its butt

“Facebook sounds awesome with its 33 million monthly users averaging about 7 hours a week on the site.  Not bad until you behold the power of radio – yes, radio. Radio has many millions of listeners and they tune in for 21 hours a week on average. And unlike Facebook, which is desperately trying to stop a decline in those already inferior numbers, radio is on the increase. Its listener base continues to grow.  Best of all – most people are listening to radio on, wait for it, a radio. A total of 88 per cent of listeners are using a radio, not their computer or their phone, to tune in. Oh, and 5 per cent listen to radio on their TVs – almost as many as listen online.”

As Mark concludes, “The point here isn’t to deride social media. It is to put it in its place. I get tired of a marketing culture in the US that talks, writes and presents social media to the exclusion of the more traditional, powerful tools just because they are older and less cool.”

When is the last time you’ve engaged in a lively debate about your business, product, or service?  It requires audacity and an openness to new ideas and thoughts.

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