Social Media Marketing Waste Of Time?
Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:03 PM
Pretty much articulates what I've been thinking for a while, namely that a lot of SMM is a bit of a waste of time, and the benefits are often confined to a small portion of the total.
BTW: Where has Pater been? Good to have him back and contributing!
Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:13 PM
Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:40 PM
I am iffy about just one remark in it:
Traffic only becomes an asset when it translates into something else
If we accept that user behavior is part of Google's algo (and we do accept this, yes?) then mere traffic, whether it converts/creates relationships or not, may have a benefit I'm not sure this article is considering.
I have often wondered if Google handles organic traffic differently than, for example, AdWords traffic when it comes to this. Does a high percentage of clickthroughs in organic SERPs get handled differently than a high percentage of paid advertising clickthroughs whether via Adwords or SM advertising? Is all of it an equal metric for popularity? Has Google readjusted its user behavior priorities since the advent of sites like Digg, capable of sending hoards of traffic on a given day, and none the next week?
I thought this article was valuable because the author has clearly tried all of this out, learned from the process and come to an interesting conclusion, but I wonder what he (and Google) would say about traffic being a potential asset, all on its own.
Posted 13 November 2008 - 02:19 AM
The ONLY time traffic for traffic's sake is an asset is when you sell CPM advertising. Every other time, it is most definitely a cost, and a waste to chase for the sake of it.
I'm glad Peter is back. He always stirs the pot nicely
Posted 15 November 2008 - 12:59 AM
The ONLY time traffic for traffic's sake is an asset is when you sell CPM advertising.
Wouldn't you say that if any advertising or effort sent traffic to a site, and the people on that site spent time exploring the site, sitting on certain pages for a good length of time, investigating things, etc. that Google is fully aware of that and forming a picture of the usefulness of the pages from such metrics?
Edited by SEOigloo, 15 November 2008 - 01:00 AM.
Posted 15 November 2008 - 11:37 AM
Only in bits and pieces, Miriam. And then that begs the question usefulness of pages to Google revenue or to Google user?
that Google is fully aware of that and forming a picture of the usefulness of the pages from such metrics?
They will have a good view of user actions on those silly sites with G-Analytics, of silly users with G-TB installed, a good iea from users bouncing directly back (back button), a hint from G-cookies about users that search again within certain time frames.
But even all that is a small, albeit likely statistically significant, proportion of users and the web. And it may well leave gaping holes in certain niches and large questions about many sites.
And unless the site has G-A installed all traffic other than from Google is a near mystery to them (exception for TB installed and traffic from sites with G-A installed). Most backlink traffic, other SE traffic, various SM traffic, type-in and bookmark traffic, and their behaviour (and yes their behaviours do differ, significantly) are largely out of their sight.
Which is a good thing.
Google is primarily a popularity page engine - it wants popular pages of some relevance - but popularity trumps relevance because it channels more ad revenue. Google frequently returns the least relevant results (not useless, simply a relative grading) among major (all languages) SEs.
Posted 15 November 2008 - 12:05 PM
In general, I think that SM is overrated - because most content fails to gain traction there. If you have pedestrian content those sites will be useless to your marketing. If you have great content they might be useful.
When you finish a new content page that you think is good, one of the most important things that you can do is get traffic onto that page in hopes of attracting some natural links. Digg, reddit, slashdot, stumble can all be effective SM sites for driving big traffic to good content. However, most of the content from my site fails to gain traction on the SM sites, but, when it does the results can spectacular - both in the amount of traffic and also in the amount of natural links that result. I've received over 100,000 visitors from slashdot in under 48 hours and stumble sends me hundreds to thousands of visitors every day.
One final comment.... iamlost brings up the point of pages being useful to Google visitors or Google's revenue. If I was the boss at Google the answer to that would be Yes and YES!
Edited by EGOL, 15 November 2008 - 12:07 PM.
Posted 15 November 2008 - 02:22 PM
Posted 17 November 2008 - 04:47 PM
Peter Da Vanzo is right in what he argues yet wrong because his foundation is false. To decry the orange because it does not look, taste, or grow as an apple is not particularly helpful.
Come with me on a walk through of the article:
A pity, then, that social media traffic is so often worthless.
By all means follow the link in the original version of that quote. You will see that media traffic is shown (often) to be over-hyped and/or misrepresented. That is not the same as 'worthless'.
1. Traffic Is Not An Asset, Traffic Is A Cost
The question of value is a question of comparison. Something is of greater or lesser value than something else. And comparing SM traffic to search traffic or SM ad costs to AdWords costs is comparing apples to donuts. Comparing Google to LiveSearch or Facebook to MySpace, Google AdWords to Live Search Advertising, or FaceBook traffic conversion to MySpace traffic conversion would be at least comparing varieties of apples or varieties of donuts.
To extend this strawman argument I could dis SE traffic because it converts significantly less than direct (type-in, bookmarked) traffic. When things are different in kind they need be treated as such. Naturally their strengths and weaknesses, appearances and behaviours will differ greatly; fundamentally that is what it means to 'differ in kind'. Further, SM is an extremely broad category. To lump FB with Digg with Flickr is just as flawed as lumping FB with Google.
To take the FB to AdWords PPC cost differences: you can simply accept that the market has adjusted to the different direct marketing values, which is what that pricing spread really says, OR you can investigate other method(s) that might better convert/monetise FB users.
Not only is traffic a cost but traffic is of varying costs and varying value. Gosh.
2. Uncontrolled Message
The message has always been uncontrollable. The lack of control is simply far more visible online where reach is inherently further, broader, faster, and more public than offline or even on the early web.
While the SEs retain total control of the results (the message) they display, SM sites are built around UGC and the message is fundamentally out of their control. They can frame it, bound it, even edit it, but not control it because they do not create it.
The sudden topic switch from message control to business model value is simply weird. Let me simply say that Digg and other SM have been left at the alter because they have no business model. Message control is immaterial.
3. Branding Is Often An Excuse For Failed Marketing Campaigns
This argument I generally agree with. However, note that again hype by agressive marketers is being taken as representative of the whole.
4. Level Of Interaction
Marketing messages in this context are about as welcome as an Amway salesperson at a bachelor party.
Sounds like the premise for a pr0n flick. Although probably not the branding Amway would appreciate.
Consider the context of the message. Search marketing works well because the searcher has already signaled their intent, and that intent may well be commercial. It's like walking into a shop, and asking to buy a watch. The relationship and interaction is direct and obvious. The context of social media is more like a cocktail party. People are there to socialize, not enter into commercial interactions. They may do so, but the relationship is fuzzy and indirect.
He illustrates the apples and oranges difference. And once again by focussing on the 'sale' as 'the' measure of conversion misses a prime value of SM: the recommendation. You may buy in the shop but the social gathering is where you learn which shop.
Mr. Da Vanzo obviously understandings the differences so it is mystifying why he insists on judging SM by search attributes.
Social media marketing is time consuming.
That depends on how you approach the problem. If you are looking at participatory engagement then yes. I will just say that there are other means of leveraging SM.
Is this time well spent on either channel? Once again, a cost/benefit analysis, where the benefits are clear and measurable, will provide the answer.
6. Rampant Stupidity & Useless Distractions
There are a lot of messages that just aren't going to work on social media. Wrong time, wrong place.
7. Difficult To Scale
This one can be well argued from both sides.
Social media tends to pay dividends in the long-term.
It depends on the type of SM (remember that SM is one ginormous umbrella) and how one approaches each.
But if so then it should be a superb counterpoint to search marketing. Why is this not mentioned?
Where Social Media Pays Off
Whilst not a replacement for a marketing strategy, social media can be a viable component of a wider marketing strategy.
True. But then neither is PPC a replacement for a marketing strategy.
Marketing exists for one purpose: to sell stuff. If it doesn't do that, then it isn't marketing.
marketing: the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.
--Random House Unabridged Dictionary
Marketing is a process.
Selling is the final (if one includes aftersales service, the penultimate) part of that process. Advertising, branding, reputation management, customer service, etc. are all also parts of marketing. And certain SM can be extremely effective in various parts of the process.
Remember the breadth that is SM. It is not one behaviour but a range of behaviours. Remember imagination. It is what finds opportunities that others miss.
The only traffic worth anything is that which ultimately results in revenue producing interaction.
The problem I find with social media traffic is that so little of it ever does.
True, given your placing of SM at the selling stage.
However, I will once again note that marketing is a process and various SM types fit at some points within the sequence better than others.
Stop trying to jam a large round object into a small square hole.
Some final questions:
* Can you envision methods of incorporating various SM into a marketing campaign?
* Why not?
* Can you envision ways of marketing to SM that both gets the message out broadly while filtering for much narrower better targeted traffic to one's site?
* Why not?
I will just finish with two observations not really addressed in the article but which tend to come up with SM marketers:
* SM can be leveraged for backlinks which has a search impact.
* buzz and virality and WoM can be replicated, if not everytime. Then, no advertising is successful everytime.
Posted 18 November 2008 - 01:24 PM
Yes, I'm being sarcastic.
At the same time, you have sites like Sphinn that are built on SEO's need to get chatty and spread chatty. Though this is an industry where it's not smart to share your secret sauce, it is still blessed to schmooze and evangelize.
SEOs spontaneously do WOM (word of mouth) marketing on themselves and each other, raising the profile of all sorts of terms that are probably worthless, harmful and a waste of time, if you care about the reputation of our industry. Consider that most of us know that many of us - [drink to much at seo conference]
Word of Mouth and Social Media are not SEO. SEO-based reputation management is not WOM or SM - the minute you make sure to get a link or a title tag placed, in order to push bad rep serps down or good rep serps up, you're doing SEO, not Social Media. They may potentially work together, but these things are different critters, with different goals and arenas.
Posted 18 November 2008 - 01:41 PM
It is possible to game the social media, but hopefully their owners work hard to avoid that happening. So something that is hot in a social media may really be of interest to human beings. That is why eventually the search engines must put much more weight on these social media and what people are talking about.
Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:23 PM
SMM, however, is not neccessarily a logical extension of the value of SM sites. It is far more difficult, and requires both a "knack" and signifiant luck, than most marketing endeavours, and the payoff is so meta that it is hard to quantify, making a price evalution difficult to impossible.
Lets relate it back to time then, the central premise of the article. Is the TIME spent better on SEO, SMM or what? The cost also matters. The cost of SMM is significant. If the traffic is not as good as SEO, say, then the cost to do SMM needs to be significantly lower. The comparison of SM vs SE traffic is, IMHO not the issue, the cost of SMMarketing vs SEOptimisation, PPC anner ads etc is.
The question of value is a question of comparison. Something is of greater or lesser value than something else. And comparing SM traffic to search traffic or SM ad costs to AdWords costs is comparing apples to donuts.
The biggest problem with SMM is that the advocates push it the same way SEM is pushed: as an all encompassing, all embracing, useful for all Marketing tool, which it simply isn't. And that isn't bad, that is a good thing, because it means that SMM, as a niche marketing channel, has a well defined group who disproportionally benefit from its usage, and subsequently will be, when and where it works, far more profitable and, lets be honest, far more interesting and creative work to be involved in.
Edited by projectphp, 19 November 2008 - 06:28 PM.
Posted 19 November 2008 - 07:45 PM
I would say, rather, that that is the biggest problem with SM marketers.
The biggest problem with SMM is that the advocates push it the same way SEM is pushed: as an all encompassing, all embracing, useful for all Marketing tool, which it simply isn't.
There are several reasons for their foolishness:
* a lot of them moved from SEO to SMM so that is all they know for comparison purposes.
* a lot of them added SMM to existing SEO and/or SEM(ppc) services so they use the same terminology.
* a lot of them are snake oil salesfolk.
* a lot of them are enthusiastic.
Now mix and match the above and you get much of the current 'where fools rush in' malarky.
As I noted early on in my critique the often 10-fold difference between AdWords rates and FB ad rates shows exactly what you were referring to: Is the TIME spent better on SEO, SMM or what? The cost also matters. The cost of SMM is significant..
The ppc value on FB (not necessarily other SM sites) is a tenth the value of ppc on Google (not necessarily other SEs). So either you need ten times the traffic from or invest one tenth the time targeting FB ppc or some combination thereof.
A simple ROI consideration.
BUT. Just because certain methods are what most people use when marketing via SM does not make them the best, the optimum method. The majority in business is always subprime. I leverage FB quite differently and it takes very little time (comparatively) and yields good levels of highly targeted traffic that converts several ways quite well.
Minority rules via imagination and testing.
Posted 19 November 2008 - 08:37 PM
Also, Facebook traffic for, say, a group is different to an ad, so that makes the ROI calculation of creating a group different to the ROI from FB banners. Unlike an SE where there is pretty much one form of traffic (how amny peeps get referral traffic from a regular link on Google?)
I also think that SM is just too broad a term to be of any use, and we often end up talking about different things. We have:
* Digg, reddit, Fark et al - the news-y-ish sites.
* Social bookmarking.
* Social Networking "who I am" sites - like Facebook.
* Social Networking "what I like" sites - like MySpace.
* Social networking "what i do and who I recommend" sites - like Linkdin
* External Forums - like this.
* Internal forums - like the Dell one.
* External Blogs - Like SEO scoop.
* Internal Blogs - Like Matt cutts blog.
* Review and comparison sites.
* Banners and advertising options - like FB and regular banners simply on SN
That's a heck of a lot to go under one umbrella, and all offer and/or require very different ROI, effort, creativity, techniques, goals, expected outcomes etc etc.
The issue is that we don't have more terms. Was Peter discussing Internal blogs in that post? Don't think so, but that is under the SMM umbrella. I am not sure how we can be any clearer, though, without ten trillion more terms in an already jargon heavy space.
Back to the quote, SMM as banners on Facebook can be compared very easily to PPC on Google et al, but creating a facebook group vs creating a linkbait comapign vs SEO is such a challenging dillemna, and one I personally struggle with, especially as I'd be on the "selling it to business" rather than "business doing it myself" side.
Absolutely! And the smaller you are, the better as well wehn it comes to the Internet in many ways.
Minority rules via imagination and testing.
Edited by projectphp, 19 November 2008 - 08:40 PM.
Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:58 PM
I also think that SM is just too broad a term to be of any use, and we often end up talking about different things.
Exactly! You produced a nice classification of SM sites. If you have a strategy that works on one SM site it might not work on another but will have a higher probability of working on a similar type of SM site in a similar topic theme. The matrix here is huge even before demographics are considered.
Posted 20 November 2008 - 12:46 AM
Ah yes, that does make I difference that I do not miss even one itsy bit.
...but creating a facebook group vs creating a linkbait comapign vs SEO is such a challenging dillemna, and one I personally struggle with, especially as I'd be on the "selling it to business" rather than "business doing it myself" side.
As I mentioned and you detailed SM is a very large umbrella. Unfortunately this tends to mean that few clients can buy strictly 'off the rack'. Some need a waist in or out, leg up or down, sleeve the same, etc. and others really should be custom fitted from the get go.
You need to match niche and demographic groups and (as you mentioned earlier as time) budget and prospective traffic or backlinks (plus other stuff) with particular SM sites. I shall hence forth call this process Mike's Social Media Dating Service, short term link-ups a specialty.
I suspect, my facetiousness aside, that approaching it as a dating service or old time matchmaker might actually be a viable proposition. Certain types of SM can be generally expected to respond in fairly predictable ways. By building up a catalog of typical/likely approaches and responses for the Diggs, FaceBooks, and Flickrs, the blogs, fora, et al it would be similar to riffling through a roldex (are you old enough to know what I mean?) to pull out likely SM prospects for each client. If you can add in a few imaginative twists all the better. And don't forget to include a price range for each rolodex entry.
Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:35 AM
EGOL's example is interesting, but I think that he was lucky and maybe it was in the earlier days of Digg. The problem with all these sites now is that they are mostly populated by people promoting their own sites, because of stories like EGOL's.
Two tips I have heard that help:
1. get very involved, digging other digg users etc, be in a big club of digging freaks (time consuming though).
2. A trickier thing to implement - keep pages advert free for a week after digging, as this leads to more early diggs.
But saying that, some of my biggest short term traffic has come from totally unrelated forums. A Magadeth forum (heavy metal band) once sent me loads of traffic. Totally unexpected.
Concentrate on building good content, and the diggers out there will do the digging for you.
Edited by jonbey, 20 November 2008 - 06:49 PM.
Posted 20 November 2008 - 06:46 PM
And there's the biggest issue: the randomness. Hard to imagine a marketing channel that is MORE random, and I don;t know how you can build a business (except casinos) ontop of random.
But saying that, some of my biggest short term traffic has come from totally unrelated forums. A Magadeth forum (heavy metal band) once sent me loads of traffic. Totally unexpected
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