Gallup Inc. released a report this week titled The Myth of Social Media. There they found,
“Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be.”
But that’s not the whole story. The Wall Street Journal agrees, stating brands who understand social media have shifted to prioritizing quality over quantity, citing stories from Ritz-Carlton, ABC Television, Comcast and the NBA. “They are tracking mentions of their brand, then using the information to help the business.”
The Gallup report paints a pretty dismal picture, citing that consumer-reported effect of social media on purchasing decisions matters a great deal to only 5% of social media users, and has “some influence” for only 30%.
“Gallup says brands assumed incorrectly that consumers would welcome them into their social lives. Then they delivered a hard sell that turned off many people.” – The Wall Street Journal
The Motley Fool calls the Gallup report “terribly misleading,” citing consumers’ overblown restraint bias, Gallup’s own generational data (younger folks are more open to social media ads than older), and the rapidly changing nature of social media ad platforms (Gallup’s study was conducted from Dec. 2012 to Jan. 2013) making the data almost obsolete here in the summer of 2014.
Despite all that, some brands feel they were duped into building a large audience of followers, only to have Facebook turn around and change how that audience is reached, with some brand’s posts only reaching 6.5% of their followers in March, according to EdgeRank Checker, a social-media analytics firm. Instead of posts be pushed out as a given, each posts gets its reach based on how many people approve or interact with it, and how many share it with their friends.
But some would say this is a good thing.
“Engagement is key and is something that can in turn further grow your audience,” says Ross Hoffman, Twitter’s director of brand strategy. “The onus of good content is on the marketer, and we are working with brands and agencies to hone this skill.”
We now see smart brands using social media not as a primary channel for short-term sales, but for the business’s long-term gain. Engagement and content quality have always been king on social media, only now, social media platforms are evolving to make sure those who engage their communities and create a valuable culture are the ones rising to the top.