Social media statistics, skepticism, and strategies

On Deming Hill’s site I found an interesting article about why CEO’s hate social media. Particularly interesting to me was some of the data they posted as to its business benefits:

Executives rely on market research to support and substantiate any designated course of action, and devour facts, stats, and data-points like shrimp at a wedding reception.  Summarized below are a few statistics buttressing the explosion of this social media trend, and detailing how Corporate America is leveraging it to realize significant revenue and market share growth going forward.

  • In the last 7 years, Internet usage has increased 70% PER YEAR. Spending for digital advertising this year will be more than $25 billion and surpass print advertising spending (forever)
  • Lenovo has experienced a 20% reduction in activity to their call center since they launched their community website for customers
  • Blendtec quintupled sales with its “Will it Blend” series on YouTube
  • Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI
  • Naked Pizza set a one-day sales record using social media: 68% of their sales came via twitter and 85% of their new customers
  • Software company reports 24% of social media leads convert to sales opportunities
  • Dell has already made over $7 million in sales via Twitter
  • 37% of Generation Y heard about the Ford Fiesta via social media BEFORE its launch in the US and currently 25% of Ford’s marketing budget is spent on digital/social media
  • 71% of companies plan to increase investments in social media by an average of 40%
  • A recent Wetpaint/Altimeter Group study found companies that widely engage in social media surpass their peers in both revenue and profit

(Sources for Statistics: George Wright Blendtec )

Obviously we’re not hearing about the “also-ran’s” and the flops, but this offers a clear indication that, when done right, social media can play a key role in a company’s marketing. But these figures also suggest a few important caveats:

  1. It takes money to make money: If Ford devotes 25% of their budget to social media they’re not using it to leverage the “free” aspect or get by more cheaply.
  2. You have to have a goal: Lenovo set out to decrease their customer support calls specifically, not just “Let’s do social media and see what happens”.
  3. If you don’t measure, you don’t know if it works: I doubt any companies could quote such statistics if they weren’t measuring the results of their campaigns.
  4. Be wary of statistics: All of this looks nice. But this list of statistics was compiled and published by a social media company. While these statistics show there is a good reason to look at social media more closely, it’s best to remember they didn’t post anything that suggests that social media is anything less than wonderful.

Can you expect results from social media? Yes. Is it a guaranteed fix-all for your business? No. It should never replace your over-all business or marketing strategies, only support and enhance them. You should know what you are doing and why before engaging in any social media campaign or effort.

That said, and lest one get the idea that I don’t believe in social media, a consistent, focused social media plan, well-executed and given sufficient time, will produce results. Just make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row first.

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