A survey from the CMO Club bemoans that four out of five CMOs allocate less that 10 percent of their budgets to “experimenting” through social media and non-traditional communications channels. This is juxtaposed against the rising use of social media – more than 35 percent of adult Internet users have profiles on social media networks up just eight percent in 2005. Just to add to add more fuel to the fire, Oxford Dictionary just named “unfriend” as the 2009 Word of the Year.
As a marketer, I just shake my head wondering why we keep measuring social media in old ways – like expenditures. And using social media like other marketing tools to “push out” our messages. How often do we need to be reminded that social media is about engaging customers and potential customers in a meaning way. Is $5 million of a $100 million budget too much or too little? Well, social media isn’t all that expensive in the hierarchy of marketing expenditures. The best money you can spend is on people to staff your social media effort – just look at Southwest Airlines as a great example. (With Southwest, it doesn’t hurt that the social media effort totally supports a brand persona born through years of traditional customer engagement.)
If the social media effort is old school, then the $5 million is way too much and it’s probably alienating more people than it is engaging (thereby decreasing the effectiveness of the rest of the marketing mix). If it is well done, then perhaps one less $1 million TV spot is better spent on more, equally effective social media.
Lots of people have lots of pet peeves about how social media is used in a disingenuous manner. Many organizations and corporations still don’t really know what to do with social media. Some I know have taken more than a year struggling to create social media guidelines that “stop the productivity drain” while allowing social media to be used for customer support and marketing .
On the marketing side, a year is an eternity, especially when it’s about half the average CMO’s shelf life of 23.2 months. Like many of my clients and prospects, CMOs are bombarded with requests from non-marketing types, emboldened by all they see and hear about social media, asking why the organization is not doing this or that social media tactic. The result can be launching any social media effort in support of other marketing efforts (i.e., push out strategies) rather than the right social media engagement strategies. Let’s just hope that the crossroads between the need to keep up appearances (increasing social media expenditures) and the real value of the social media programs funded doesn’t end up being the ruin of a good thing.