Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Social Media Groupies Should Face Up to Facts

All those overeager riders on the social media bandwagon are bozos on a bus, according to The Face-to-Face Book (forthcoming from Free Press).

Authors Ed Keller and Brad Fay argue that social media marketing simply represents another gold rush, as temporary and thoughtless as tulip mania.

And while credulous marketers go on a fool's errand, the authors contend, "the largest social gold mine is literally right beneath our noses."

They're referring, of course, to word-of-mouth conversations.

In the book, Keller and Fay present research showing that over 90 percent of "true interpersonal influence" results from face-to-face.

"Social media is big and growing, but it is still dwarfed by the analog world in which people live and interact," they write.

Marketers who place their bets on social media "to chase a dream" will wind up big losers.

The authors offer Pepsi as an example.

In early 2010, PepsiCo slashed its traditional media spend to place its bet on social media.

But the company's wager "did not come close to achieving the pay dirt it intended."

Twelve months later, Diet Coke surpassed Pepsi as the Number Two soft drink (Coke is Number One) and PepsiCo returned to spending big on traditional media.

PepsiCo bought the social media hype at its own expense.

"Pepsi does in fact sell soft drinks because of social interactions, but not necessarily because of online interactions," the authors write.  "In virtually every decision we make, every one of us is influenced by other people, mostly the people we spend time with in the 'real world.'"
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