Posted tagged ‘green’

How important is online social media?

September 30, 2008

I was asked today, by a prospective client, why I think online social media is important.  The situation this was presented in, and the way it played out, reminded me of the IBM advert currently running.

A cyncical boss asks a young manager for reasons why he should sign an energy saving proposal.  Sure, he muses, the tree huggers will be happy, but he needs to see a monetary benefit.  His mind is quickly changed when the young apprentice explains that the energy saving will halve the $18 million energy bill spent last year, and suddenly the tight fisted manager is a tree hugger.  Cute cartoon animals dance around the room, Disney-esque music begins to play, IBM are made to look like they really do care about the environment and, somewhere, advertising executives wearing shiny suits and driving big fuel guzzling cars hi-five each other over a job well done.

So when asked about the benefits of social media, I decided to simplify it beyond any tech savvy language and tell it straight, in the hope that cartoon animals will take flight to prove my point…

“Why do we use influencers within social media?  Because each selected influencer has an audience of several thousand readers each day.  Multiply that by the huge number of influential bloggers and forum members and you have a huge audience.  Now, these guys can either support your brand, or they can hinder it.  If you upset them, they could destroy you.  If you look after them, just imagine the possibilities.”

Unfortunately, this didn’t have the impact I wanted.  Disney failed to deliver, and quite frankly the cartoon birds that decided to pitch up and fly around my head seemed decidely demotivated, and quite frankly, drunk…

Anyway, some people are a little old fashioned and struggle to realise the power of social media, preferring to buy billboards and to post leaflets.  Why work with social media when you can pay big bucks to have an advert on after the “X-Factor”?  He even went as far as saying “if they get negative, we’ll fight fire with fire and stop them!”.  After biting my fist and closing my eyes for a few seconds, I decided to try another approach.

Ok then, whilst you spend millions on conventional advertisments, how many people do you think really read your sales pitch?  Do you think they see an advert and say:

“Wow! That bill board says that the new tracker mortgage is great, and that the bank is really very stable!  It must be true, bill boards can’t lie..”?

The trouble is, people have been desensitised by years of marketing, and no longer trust what the companies say.  However, if a good friend of your tells you that the new Dyson is the best vacuum cleaner ever made, you’d be tempted to buy it.  Social media is no different, except the one person raving about the new quadruple cyclone, ball shaped, hover hoover (there you go dyson, that idea’s on the house), is telling thousands and thousands of people who have gone to their site looking specifically for pre-purchase information on what product to buy.  Social media content is far more influential than advertising as the content is written by trusted community members, and reaches a wider audience.

Any click of recognition or understanding?  Nope, so I went for the facts and figures.

“In the space of 4 months, we increased a large British broadcaster’s web traffic by 401%, with a sales increase of 26%, without using expensive advertising or pay-per-click, for the same cost as one small TV advert”.

Ding!  Lightbulb.  That did it.

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