Web 2.0 Expo: Why social media marketing fails

Web 2.0 Expo: Why social media marketing fails

Summary: Today at Web 2.0 Expo, Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and Charlene Li told a packed room how they believe social media marketing is failing. Don't fear, because they also discussed how they believe it can be fixed.


Today at Web 2.0 Expo, a "Forrester reunion" panel made up of Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and Charlene Li told a packed room  at Moscone West how they believe social media marketing is failing. Don't fear, however, because they also discussed how they believe it can be fixed.

On culture: "The biggest challenge is the bottom-up bubbling of social media versus the top down approach," Owyang said. "Requires a lot of cultural change and most companies are not ready for that."

How do you get a culture to change? "This is not something that's done overnight. Start small so people can begin experimenting," said Li. "If you want cultural change you have to get 'big guns' involved. These are people at the executive level."

Owyang cautioned that social media is not often led by executives -- it is led by the lower level and mid-level workers. However, Kim said that, "One of the great fallacies of social media is that it is a young person's game."

Owyang sees corporations people engaging in social media in three different ways, which he has named:

  1. "Tire" When social media comes from the edges of the company; it's very authentic. However one side may not know what the other side is doing.
  2. "Tower" Imagine corporate communications wants to centralize social media. Downside is it begins to look like rehashed press releases.
  3. "Hub and Spoke" Cross-functional group right in the middle of the hub, perhaps pairing up executives with younger digital media advocates.

On campaigns: One of the biggest failures comes from people thinking of social media as "campaigns," said Li. Campaigns are short-term. She said the bigger question people should be asking is, "What kind of relationships do I have today and what kind of relationship do I want in the picture?" Social media should be part of a long-term business strategy, she said.

That led to likely the most important question for marketers, posed by Kim: "Do we need to get rid of the marketing department?"

Li believes that marketing is safe, as other aspects of marketing beyond advertising and PR (i.e. promotions, brand management, etc.) become more elevated in the face of social media.

"Marketers will evolve," Owyang he said.

On measurement: "Many marketers are measuring social media wrong," Owyang said. "You can't use page views or clickthroughs to measure social media. It can't measure conversations or tone with such older marketing measurement approaches.

Li says you also need to consider why you are measuring. Is it for effectiveness? For budgeting? To see if sales leads are coming in? If you don't know what you are measuring, she said, then what are you doing?

"This is one of the areas of biggest fail among marketers in general, " Kim said.

"If you're not associating your social media efforts with a larger business goal, your program is going to get cut," Li said.

On failure:

The biggest question about social media is around failure itself, Li said.

"If you are engaged in social media you have to expect to fail... if you don't fail you are not doing it right. So this goes back to the question, 'Can my culture really adopt this'? Things are not written in stone."

"Social media doesn't matter, the way it's being executed today," Kim said. "Will it matter? Yes. We are social beings and always will be social beings but we're learning to adopt and adapt to new technologies."

Topics: Browser, Social Enterprise

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  • "Social Media" the phrase may fail, but....

    I've said all along that social media draws too much criticism because it's a giant magnet that seems to suck everything remotely related to marketing and communications towards it. We're really seeing Culture X.0 with many facets of our experience - from advertising to news to the gadgets we use to communicate - dramatically changing. But, if it's anything, social media is now just an inventory of tools - and that's why skepticism prevails. Let's break out the cultural sea change from the tool shift and allow the real transformation of social media (or whatever we call it) room to breath, uplift and inspire.
  • Why do the marketeers think we want a relationship with them?

    Social media can be different things to different people. Facebook is a type of social media, but is not the only venue for social interaction. The key word is social. No one I know who has/had a MySpace or Facebook did so to be a marketing target. They were interested in social interactions with existing and potential friends.

    I joined LinkedIn to develop my business network, not to have a relationship with some company that wants to sell me stuff. I would prefer to pay a small fee than to be bombarded with useless and unwanted solicitations from marketing depts. I do not care if my friend bought something on Amazon or eBay or where ever. I don't have any interest in setting up another conduit of crap I have to wade through. Please stop the idiocy and let social networks be social. If they can support themselves through a small fee so be it. If not, then their value is nothing and they deserve to die.
  • RE: Web 2.0 Expo: Why social media marketing fails

    I wish I could have attended this year. This topic is incredibly important. Having worked with many large companies on the sell side, and now on the buy side, I have seen it from many angles. It is extremely hard for marketers, sales, and executives in general, to evolve from push to pull. However, like with everything else, once they start to see the value of why it makes sense and there is more risk to not being a social organiztion than becoming one, one by one, they will want to learn and start to evolve. Deliver value to all constituents, report powerful and relevant data, and change will happen.
  • Social Media marketing vs traditional PR

    I disagree that Social Media Marketing sucks, especially compared to the traditional news-suppression tactics of corporate PR departments. It may be embryonic but it is also, quite simply, better.

    These days corporate PR functions are somewhere between legal departments and event organisers. Ferrying journalists in and out of events to deliver pre-packaged news and 'No commenting' stories which live on the blogosphere. This cannot last and is one reason why no US tech company entering the UK market (where Twitter usage is highest) should employ a PR manager.

    For more, see my blog http://tinyurl.com/cqc3by and for advice on how to get better PR online call +447900 600013.
  • RE: Web 2.0 Expo: Why social media marketing fails

    I think the crux of the issue is having companies establish how
    they want to measure success, that it's setting goals not studying
    numbers. I thought Beth Kanter's mention of ROI as Return on
    Insight was a great way of illuminating the way.
    Amanda Magee