Social Media is a Brand Killer

With only 6% of companies ready to engage with customers on a regular basis and 82% of consumers actively wanting to engage with brands, the recent Alterian survey revealed a huge disconnect between businesses and consumers.

Social media reports may seem to be a dime a dozen at times and while there are lies, damn lies and statistics, this report casts a frightening light on marketing departments all over the UK and US.  No matter how nicely you try and spin the numbers, the Alterian report “Brands At Risk” is a damning indictment of the inability of brands to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the current marketplace.

The internet is essential to business.  Whether looking at the over 10 billion searches performed in March 2010 in the US alone, or the fact that 81% of the people surveyed for this study saw the internet as the ‘first port of call’ to compare products or services, the internet is an essential part of marketing.  Social media, with its requirement for engagement and response in an often public forum to sometimes embarrassing mistakes, can seem like an unnecessary time overhead and yet the Alterian study reveals it is as important a marketing channel as any other.

Only a tiny 5% of people surveyed trusted the advertising from an organisation, and yet 75% said it would have a positive impact on their experience as a customer if companies took the time to find out more about their needs.  While the time overhead involved in social media is greater than the time involved in traditional media, for the cost of an average TV campaign a much more effective and longer lasting social media campaign with a higher impact could be launched if this report is to be believed.

Social media is a relative newcomer on to a marketer’s radar but email marketing, a much more mature marketing channel should have a higher utilisation rate for customer management.  While 75.3% of companies taking part in a different survey said they received customer feedback by e-mail, only 23.1% said they tracked and measured the volume and nature of these messages.  These companies don’t know if they have a problem, let alone how bad the problem is.

New Media Age published survey results in January 2010 indicating that just 14% of marketers believe social media has a significant impact on their brand and 60% do not currently have a social media strategy for their business.  That is a serious disconnect between what marketers believe and that customers believe.  If the customer is always right then in this spells a disaster for many brands with a marketing department completely out of touch with the modern marketing age.

The Alterian and related reports makes for pretty depressing reading both as a marketer and as a consumer.  There is a serious disconnect between what marketing departments believe to be important and what consumers want.  This disconnect is serious enough that it is putting a number of large, well established brands at risk as smaller, more agile brands respond to this type of sentiment and move rapidly into social media for sales, marketing and customer service support.

Marketing departments need to take a look at this report and decide if they can afford to continue to ignore social media and the internet as a significant marketing channel.  While reach may be measured differently, the internet is vital for all brands, regardless of size or marketing spend.

Scared? Need to find help?  I have ONE FREE TICKET to the Monitoring Social Media conference to give away to the tenth person to tweet “I’m scared and *need* that free ticket to Monitoring Social Media from @JudithLewis STAT!” on Tuesday November 9th after 11:30am GMT (judge’s decision final. No cash alternative. It’s a free ticket, nothing more).  Missed getting a freebie? Get a 10% discount with code JL10

Tags: conferences, decabbit, Social Media

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