Though with fewer paparazzi than Fashion Week uptown, DigiDay:Social at New York’s W Union Square yesterday was an opportunity for a few hundred social mediaddicts to strut their stuff. The attending software and platform developers, agency execs and creatives, researchers and (far, far too few) brand marketers were treated to fresh and retweeted ideas from those at the keyboards controlling what’s being served up in the social media uniververse.
Here is an opinionated selection of things starred in my notebook (yes, I do use a Zebra mechanical pencil) over the course of the day.
Consumer engagement was not invented in the 21st century – I was surprised to repeatedly hear thanks being given to the current wave of social media platforms and technologies for enabling us to finally be able to learn about and act upon the voice of the consumer. Delivering products that customers want in ways they want them goes back to around the time money was first coined and there were two donkey carts in the market selling grapes. Indeed, we have new and more efficient ways of engaging customers and are buried in data to inform our product developments and communications. But let’s not forget that, though many have failed in the past to heed the voice of the marketplace, it has always been core to the success of any brand. Let’s learn from their failures as well as successes.
Mark Zuckerberg owes the success of Facebook to AOL – Steve Case was there with the rest of us unable to predict the technological path of the Internet. If he had, AOL would have evolved into Facebook. AOL had the same social unpinning and attempted to be all inclusive so that members would always be on its platform. While the excellent keynote at DigiDay:Social noted that successful social media leaders need to give up their need to be in control, at their peaks both Facebook and AOL were all about control.
Half a billion members does not ubiquity make – Indeed, Facebook’s global footprint, as well as the level of involvement of its members, is impressive. It’s a media buyer’s dream come true and, perhaps, the new operating system of the Internet. I might even agree with the statement at DigiDay:Social that any marketer that does not have his/her brand on Facebook is negligent. But Facebook is the present of social media, not the future. See comment above about AOL and what follows next.
The core reasons the Old Spice Guy campaign exploded – I know, I nearly went to Starbucks when I saw this on the agenda. Enough is enough. But I’m glad I stuck around when the two whizzes from Weiden+Kennedy lifted the towel on the campaign and revealed that it would not have been a success without Digg, Reddit and 4chan.
Expectations about social media marketing are out of whack – Ten times more money is spent on search engine marketing than social media marketing. Why? Because search is measurable and predictable. Everyone knows that because of Google Instant search will be, will be, will be… oops, no one is quite sure. If growth in social media marketing and advertising spends are going to come close to tracking the exponential growth of the platforms and consumer involvement, we’ve got two beasts to slay. The first is to put the value of search into perspective and the second is to do the same for social media. Spending on search is seen as safe because we can measure our campaigns with data. We should be smart about how we use the social media metrics we have now and keep an eye on those developers breaking away from the pack with their analytics packages. And we have to stop overpromising results from social media; it’s our own feet we’re shooting.