Social Media for Demand Generation: Silver Bullet or Snake Oil?
Social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter are revolutionizing the way companies market their products and servicesâ€” or, at least, that's what the internet marketing consultants, evangelists, gurus, and camp followers have been preaching to us for about two years now.
What's the reality behind the hype? Should social media be an integral part of your demand generation campaigns? Is it producing significant, measurable ROI for anybody out there? Let me know your real-world experiences.
Debunking the Famous Dell Case Study
Yes, like you, I've read the much-circulated Dell case study where they used Twitter to generate $3 million in sales by offering exclusive discounts to the 11,844 people who follow @DellOutlet. As an experienced (and skeptical) demand generation practitioner, I have two problems with this:
1) it's literally a drop in the bucket of Dell's $51 billion annual sales volume (about 0.005%).
2) Dell isn't necessarily generating new business here. In fact, you can argue that they are cannibalizing direct sales (and profits) with the extra discounts.
To be fair, let's admit that social media is new and evolving. Moreover, demand generation marketers are still learning how to use it since it doesn't work like “traditional” media. Because it depends heavily on viral marketing (in the old days, we used to call this pass along or referral marketing), it really is more akin to digital PR. Regardless, here's what I think:
- Social media really isn't freeâ€” While it may not cost any out-of-pocket to establish a Twitter or Facebook account, somebody still has to create and manage the ongoing “conversation.” I know of a number of my peers who have now hired consultants to manage their Twitter campaigns because they don't have the time or the staff.
- You can't control outcomes or timingâ€” Like PR, you're dependent on others to publicize the message. For marketers with short sales cycles, this can make social media impractical.
- You need a compelling offerâ€” Or people won't act or pass on the information.
- Don't expect social media to supplant your traditional demand generationâ€” Instead, think of it as an adjunct to your core demand generation campaigns, something that may produce bonus sales.
What are your real-world experiences with social media as a demand generation medium? What are your opinions?
Link to original post