One of the common beliefs is traditional media, like TV, is more wasteful of marketing dollars than online and social media properties. The old joke of “I know half my money is wasted in advertising, but I don’t know which half.” comes from this idea. Yes, it is often hard to quantify how a TV spot affects sales since the power of TV is mostly in awareness and brand building and less about immediate sales. So, does that truly mean that new media channels such as Facebook are more effective in reaching your customers?
There is a new study out by Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, an Australia-based marketing think tank, about social media (Facebook in particular) and the interactions with brands. The results show that less than 1% of those who “like” or “fan” a brand on Facebook actually engage with the brand or even buy their products/services. They used one of Facebook’s own metrics they use to pitch advertisers to buy ads. It’s called, ”People Talking About This” metric (it is definitely named by techies). The overall percentage using this metric, only 1.3% actually engage with a brand. Take into account new “likes” which only require a click on the “like” button (this is similar to TV ratings in a researcher’s mind), subtract that number and you end up with 0.45% of people actually engage with a brand on Facebook. This is even less than many TV properties.
It seems the myth of new media and social media is more effective doesn’t hold true. This also doesn’t mean that, with proper use and expectations of these tools, they couldn’t be an important part of your overall strategy. The main point is many marketers are much more “forgiving” on the numbers for newer marketing channels than they are for traditional media. Many also forget that regardless of how new or old a marketing channel is, the real effectiveness is in the proper use of that tool, not just because it’s new. Facebook (and others of their ilk) provides reach. This is the same as traditional TV. You’re not going to generate massive direct sales from Facebook, just like TV. Facebook is not going to generate armies of loyal customers, just like TV. What Facebook will do much better is give you solid numbers and data that you are only truly engaging only 0.45% of your “fan” base. That’s something TV can’t do, but we all knew that instinctively anyway. Now someone can actually prove what you thought. It is the ability to get hard data that lead many marketers to believe they are more “effective” online than in traditional media. Which is more effective, 0.45% reach on Facebook or 0.45% reach on TV?
The main thing to keep in mind is don’t relax your standards just because it’s new media and just being on there makes you feel like you are a more effective marketer. Know the strengths and weaknesses new and social media have and work them into your marketing plan appropriately. There is no silver bullet, even in the digital world. The only difference, you can get data that tells you that your effectiveness isn’t what you though it was.