November 21, 2011

Of Course Social Media Doesn't Work ... Among Traditionals

Here's a story I hear all of the time.
  • "We started our Twitter presence back in 2009.  We currently have 449 followers, though we sell $60,000,000 of merchandise.  We've sold $2,000 on Twitter in two years.  In fact, we think we've also sold $2,000 via Facebook.  We do what we're supposed to do, we listen to customers, we engage customers, we offer discounts and promotions.  Nothing works."
Now, I'm usually one of the first to jump on the bandwagon and demand accountability of all marketing channels ... but ...

... we have to ask ourselves a question.
  • What percentage of our current customer base and prospect base is comprised of Traditionals, Transitionals, and Transformationals?
Catalogers have, by and large, failed the Social Media experiment, and for good reason.  Quite honestly, a 62 year old rural shopper isn't terribly excited about using Tweetdeck to "follow a brand" so that the shopper can take advantage of 15% off plus free shipping, a promotion that was also plastered on eight email campaigns and on the cover of two catalogs mailed this month.

Catalogers, by and large, cater to Traditionals.  So we have to ask ourselves ... what about Social Media so improves the shopping experience among Traditionals that Transitionals would abandon catalogs, websites, email marketing, search, and any other channel in order to instead use Social Media to initiate commerce?

Be honest ... what about Social Media so improves the shopping experience among Traditionals that would cause Traditionals to abandon existing channels?

This is why various channels "don't work" ... we fail to align a marketing tactic with the audience most likely to embrace the tactic.


  1. Kevin,

    While I agree with your approach, focus on what works, I will say, "Customer Buying Cycle". Awareness, Consideration, Close, Retention.

    So, looking at the numbers, awareness could be generated by social media, or other social content: white paper, webinar, web video, blog, etc. From the sound of it, the catalog speedens the "Consideration to Close stage" more effectively than other forms of media.

    Perhaps, Consideration phase may even involve looking at the catalog, but regardless one form of media might influence the customer early in the process, and I think being a good marketer is all about narrowing down what that media content was.

    So maybe estimating:

    What's Influences My Customer During Awareness Phase:

    Catalog - 67%
    Testimonial - 40%
    Twitter - 35%
    Blog - 32%

    I agree, first determine your objectives, then set goals, and then create campaigns to carry out goals. But, who's to say what is most effective during each stage, let the data do the talking. This way, you can better evaluate your success.

    keeron marc

  2. Buying cycles have a lot of theory surrounding them ... you will be hard pressed to find a 62 year old customer influenced by Twitter, and you'll be hard pressed to find a 26 year old customer influenced by catalogs.

    I 100% agree with you in theory. In practice, it just doesn't work that way very often.

  3. The point here (which I agree wholeheartedly with ) is good old fashioned segmentation and channel preference. If your audience is 50+, it's unlikely Twitter will show up on their media consumption profile. Likewise if you are a technology company targeting affluent 20-35 year olds, Twitter might be just the thing. Social is just another tool in the mix - the fact that so many brands have waded in just because they feel they should is a damning reflection on the discipline of Marketing in 2011.


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