Treat Social Media like the Candles on a Christmas Tree.


Christmas candles will burn down your home unless kept under strict surveillance at all times. They do not light up very much and they are only beautiful, when combined with all the essentials of a Christmas tree. You must also make sure that someone, who only knows about candles and nothing more, has not put any candles right below the fragile decorations on your tree. The adult must make sure not all the good intentions of the child, helping to decorate the tree, lead to tears and pain for the whole family.

Below you will find a few good reasons for you to demand more quality from your marketing department and remove a few of the myths around Social Media Marketing.

It is a puzzle to me that the biggest and most expensive social media based campaign, ever undertaken, seems uninteresting to discus and learn from. A campaign strictly and solely carried out with the intention of benefitting from all the advantages of social media and a “modern approach to the marketing mix”. This campaign is seldom discussed on social media conferences and seminars these days.

This is a pity, I claim, because no budget was restricted, the best experts were on board and the brand known worldwide and has millions of loyal users.

When I bring this up, I am often met by a peculiar hostile reaction. Recently I was told, “it was 2012 and now we have 2015- it’s old and obsolete information!”. As if time will automatically ruin an input to grow skills. As if we can now safely step out in front of a train and survive, just because it has been some time, since someone else died from trying that. By all means: 2-3 years is not a long time, in my opinion. It is just right amount to make sure that the case is solid and not just “hot air”.

To cure my worries, I have wondered, if the hesitancy is because the campaign did not fulfill every wish, the company had, as to what could be achieved by way of a modern and professional use of Social Media? Unlikely so. Since all of the targets were reached, or even surpassed, compared to budgets and goals. “Engagement levels”, number of “interactions”, ”likes”…everything!

Could it, perhaps, scare some of the Social Media agencies that the bar for what can be achieved by use of social media is now very high, because of this campaign? Is feeling inferior in comparison? I doubt it. When I look at the very nicely polished CV’s and LinkediN profiles of the average social media geek, it seems to me that they do not see themselves as unskilled. They trust themselves well.

My own take on it, is this one:

It COULD , PERHAPS and MAYBE be, because all the commercial results of the company were a disaster. The market share dropped 5% and the erosion of the market share increased by 8 times in speed. Experts have calculated this to a cost of around 3,5 billion d.Kr. The company’s primary brand went from 2nd to 3rd place in the market.

Hence, I believe, there is a lot of learning to get from this. So that, perhaps, this flunk will not have to happen to others. I find this a fair wish from my side.

If you are eager to understand why PEPSI failed so miserably, you must study consumer behavior and basic marketing. It is not complicated to look through all this. The issue is, that the human mind, and how we choose products and spend our money, has not developed at the same speed as IT. Brain scientists have proven that the brain has about the same functionality as millions of years ago. No IT platform, cool UI or connection speed will ever change that.

I believe it is possible, even for skilled CEO’s and marketer’s to be blinded by hype. Eager and skillful people warned about the financial crisis, Richard Branson’s space shuttle crash, and many other important events. This is not new to humankind. PEPSI learned a lot. In the longer run, it may actually prove useful for them. Perhaps when the next hype comes along.

What the social media advocates seem to forget is to look at the needs, wants and demand pattern in the market. To give a small example of what this means, kindly look at what happens in most markets all around us. We do not buy clothes just to keep warm, we do not buy cars just to get from A to B and we don’t buy beer to just quench thirst. More importantly, we do not always want to talk about our real motives for what we buy and for what purpose. No male buys flowers, because they are beautiful. This means that many of the signals that some webmasters attempt to interpret are quite blurred. Since IT school as well as journalist school don’t teach consumer behavior, and other basics of marketing, they don’t see how it can be so off track, what they do. Most webmasters and social media advocates are younger generations. A generation where research has proved that their social skills and emotional intelligence have dropped dramatically compared to just 10-20 years ago. It is natural that the average webmaster is tricked by his/her lack of insights.

However, I must insist, they are very often wasting their time and company’s money with the communities and the creation of “relevant content”. They label it “communication” despite it being mostly one way on the company website and elsewhere.

In even more straight language: For many years, the supply to the market of organic eggs has been some 12-15% of total supply, but 65-70% of consumers claim, that they never buy any other type of eggs. Even if you allow for a substantial amount of BtB use of eggs, consumer’s claims here are just plain lies. We all care about, how we appear in public.

All producers of high-end mobile phones struggle with sales figures. Except Apple. They are doing well, even with comparably obsolete technology and they are price leaders. Because they do not sell phones! They sell “membership of the reference group”. However very few iPhone users will admit to this. They will much rather tell about the beautiful design and the ease of use. Despite some will sleep outside the store to get to the first product in the land. As if the first 100 items were more beautiful or even easier to use than the ones to follow a week later. Only few of these “honest and real” reasons will be part of any discussion on social media communities. Unless you are quite skilled to read between the lines. In fact, since the prestige, envy, fear and other feelings involved in purchase behavior are no way new, to study buying patterns with big data software and web-community input can thus be a very slow and time-consuming method for the unskilled marketer.

Very often, companies supply the “rational side” of the matter. Not addressing the important, but subtle and even sometimes almost “taboo” motives of spending.

It is this lack of correlation between activity on social media platforms and buying behavior, which also led PEPSI astray. Issue is that the need or the desire to “speak up” about something in public or “be part of something cool” should not be mixed up with “intention to buy” and even less with “ability to spend”. How many of the many parents, eagerly discussing incomplete and unfair trading cards from BILKA and FØTEX, this spring, have changed the place where they buy their groceries?

What we see, is that many of the agencies that once told you about utmost importance of employer branding and earlier asked for extra budgets on internal marketing, now all seem to have a “digital branch”. To keep you spend money and pay for “new things”, you cannot skip if you want to compete in “today’s market”. Kindly notice that the same people seems to be experts in all this. Faster than most others, I will claim. Despite the above mentioned hesitancy to study cases from the market a lot.

Is there nothing you can do to escape the rubbish and the wasting of time and money?

Yes, there is!

You can choose to leave all the bells and whistles behind and educate your crew. Seriously and down to earth with quality on board. So that you can remove the real performance blockers of today. No fees to consultants or Guinea pig experiences.

True blockers of performance cannot be removed by a quick fix. You must invest enough time and energy to enable you and your crew to create a value based sustainable competitive advantage and to execute it.

Should you be worried, that you could be left behind when doing this, compared to your competition, who may opt for quick fixes and sweet talking consultants, I tell you this: Do not be. It is nice to know, that the once so famous “first mover advantage”, which the world was once so focused on, seems to be, according to solid research, a lot less important than it was once initially claimed to be.

Soon social media marketing will turn out to be what it really is: A nice little addition to your total marketing efforts that will sometimes add value.

You can start before Christmas this year and be well underway sometime in 2016. If you do so, it is likely you can afford bigger presents for everyone you care for in 2017.

So let us conclude: Despite many children are eager to help you decorate your tree, only you, as adult, should place the candles securely and in solid and balanced holders. If the candles are too many or your child asks you to re-allocate you budget and buy more candles than baubles, do not listen. For the naïve and inexperienced child, amazed and paralyzed by the amazing impact of a lit candle, it seems, now, nice to have only candles! “The baubles look all the same- nothing new"! The child will scream, “they are sometimes ancient old. Sometimes as old as Grandma!!

Beware! For some disobedient children, the suggested reallocation of your budget and save on the baubles is a way to get a bigger present for him/herself at the cost of the total Christmas experience. You, as adult, must ague that it will not work. The oxygen in your home will be consumed and you cannot breathe, and it will not be a Christmas night to remember.


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