|Eric D. Schulz|
Social media is great for giving things away, but most companies are having a hard time figuring out how to generate sales. There are certain industries that are perfectly positioned to effectively use social media -- restaurants, fast food chains, retail stores and movie theatres. Need to stimulate purchases? Need some customers for dinner tonight? Tweet and post a "today only" special. Timely, Relevant, Actionable. Sports teams can use social media effectively to disseminate information and special offers. TV/Radio stations absolutely can use social media to drive consumers. Watch this show for a chance to win X. Listen at 4 p.m. to win Y. A local TV station here in Utah in fact has used social media so effectively to drive it’s 10 p.m. newscast that it was able to rise from a perennial #2 position to #1 in the market and continues to build their ratings/share advantage on the back of their effective use of social media tied to a "watch and win" contest nightly within their newscast.
Consumer product companies have a problem, however -- what can you say about Tide detergent that's timely, relevant and actionable? Probably not much. So, as my momma always said, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Save your breath. The same study I referenced also asked consumers how often they wanted to hear marketing messages from companies they "liked" -- the answer? Most only wanted to hear from them once a month or less. A smaller portion said once a week was OK -- none said "everyday" -- let alone 17 times a day!
Social media CAN be a powerful marketing tool if you use it correctly. Unfortunately, most companies are just using it for spamming out useless information. If what you have to say isn't timely, relevant and actionable, stop doing it.
- Eric D. Schulz
Eric D. Schulz is the co-director of strategic marketing and brand management at the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Prior to joining the University, he spent over 20 years in consumer product marketing with Procter & Gamble, The Walt Disney Company, and The Coca-Cola Company. He can be reached at email@example.com.