Lack of quality control on Facebook ads leads to...
There's really no nice way to say this. You just need to see the ad:
Ayup, spell one word wrong in your ad title and the meaning changes rather dramatically, to say the least.
The problem here is that Facebook, for all it has an interesting self-service advertising model, also suffers from the problem of user-generated content. Ultimately this is not serving the community well, and I expect that either ads over time will prove less and less effective as users learn to tune them out, or that Facebook will need to hire quality control folks...
What's your reaction to the advertisement above?
What's the impact of social media on business growth?
A reader writes to me:
"As an empirically-based economist, I would like to know whether there are studies that show the impact of twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites on business growth. I have a client (I do a small bit of consulting) that is pushing hard to get "into" social networking to grow the business. I am a bit reluctant, because there is no way to "control" the message. If there's even one former customer that is unhappy with my client, the negative effects can be explosive. I also wonderwhether paying Google for per-click exclusive use of specific words can really grow a business. Your thoughts would be most welcome!"I'm so intrigued by this question and its implications that I thought I'd offer up my answer here and also ask you, dear readers, for your two cents too.
First though, are there non-empirical economists? What would that mean? That they follow economic theories even when actual real-life data proves them wrong? Hmmm...
More seriously, the first comment I have about this question is that the writer is already out of step with modern reality. As merchant after merchant has demonstrated, there is no controlling "the message" any more and the sooner marketing and PR people accept that, the sooner they can start helping their clients in this brave new world. Control always was an illusion anyway.
Given that fact, it also means that your customers, your competitors and your marketplace are already having discussions about your products, services and employees, and they're having it in online forums, whether it's a protest group on Facebook ("United Airlines Sucks!"), a persistent hashtag on Twitter (#attfail) or just a meme that travels from blogger to blogger.
The question then isn't whether it makes sense to delve into social networks even though you can't control the message, the question is whether you're paying attention to a medium where the message has long since escaped and has a life of its own. This means that your customer defines your brand. It's not about expensive TV spots, it's not about the right Pantone color in the logo when printed, it's not about the company at all.
This is both terrifying and exhilarating because it means that good companies with good products -- like Apple with its insanely popular iPod line -- can benefit even without any branding or marketing efforts, and bad companies -- like United Airlines -- are going to suffer from a bad reputation even as they spend money advertising and trying to position themselves as a market leader.
My take is that it's "step zero" to monitor what's going on in the social media space. Even if you don't want to participate, which is a mistake, you should at the very minimum be paying attention to what people are talking about. You can use individual services like search.twitter.com, but far smarter is to use a more sophisticated monitoring tool like Filtrbox or Radian 6.
There are many studies, some apocryphal, others actual more rigorous scientific research, on the topic of social media on business growth, and a quick search of Google will reveal quite a collection of data on the topic. Intuitively, though, if your customers are already talking about your product, service or competitor, how can that discussion not have an impact on your business, for better or worse?
My take away is this: if you are truly going to help your clients succeed in the brave new world of 21st Century business, you need to enthusiastically embrace social media, jumping in and learning best practices from such books as Trust Agents, The New Community Rules, The Tipping Point and Groundswell, along with by participating in the communities. The key is to remember to engage with your customer base, not just join these social media sites to create new bully pulpits for your marketing and sales messages.
Interview with PR expert Deirdre Breakenridge
I recently had the pleasure of listening to Deirdre Breakenridge talk about the future of public relations, and was quite impressed. The co-author of the book Putting the Public back in Public Relations, she's smart, accessible and has a great, pragmatic view of social media, marketing, customer service and public relations. I asked her if she'd mind answering a few of my questions and, well, she's a writer, so we've ended up with a nice novella. Please enjoy, and if you have further questions for Deirdre, please feel free to post them in the comments. -- Dave
Discuss your background and professional experiences.
I've been in public relations and marketing for over 21 years. I knew in college that I wanted to practice PR and started my career at an agency in New York City after interning there for two summers in row. My background has mostly been small agency PR. When I was running a very small firm for my employer in Northern, NJ, I realized that I could start my own PR/communications company and build a business for myself. I launched the Breakenridge Group with two employees in 1997, while I was still studying to receive my MBA degree.
The Breakenridge Group lasted a little less than a year, when one of my clients, at the time, PFS New Media, asked me if I was interested in becoming a full partner of their agency. They acquired my firm and the rest is history. I've practiced so many different kinds of PR over the years, working with brands in healthcare, broadcast electronics, non-profit, HR, technology and telecommunications. I've always enjoyed working with different types of brands and organizations both large and small. Every company, no matter its size, has unique challenges.
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