Social media, rate of change and that elusive ROI


Jack Maley [Creative] and Darren Ernest [SEO/Social Media]
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.”
— General Eric Shinseki, 2003

The inexorable change that’s upending marketing is accelerating.  The magazine and newspaper industries were decimated by this force.  I don’t mean the internet tsunami. That’s just the weapon. What’s wielding the weapon is the revolution of consumer choice.

“The digital world has so disrupted the business models of newspapers, radio, television, music and even Hollywood that the yin and yang of mass media and mass marketing are flying apart. We are in the midst of total collapse of the media infrastructure we have taken for granted for 400 years.”
— Bob Garfield, AdAge

The newspapers and magazines were not killed by a byte on their net. They were felled by old fashioned consumer choice.  They bled out because their readers chose a better way to get their news, place their classifieds, and hear about the newest products and services.  Certainly, the old media understands the concept of consumer choice. But they didn’t get just HOW MUCH choice and control the consumer demanded.  And not at the rate of change that it was happening.

I worked at Time Inc and can imagine the end-of-my-career laughter if I looked around the conference room at budget time and suggested, “5 year plan?  How’s this for a 5 year plan: every magazine in this room except People will lose half their rate base and 40% will cease to exist in 5 years.”

The big old media companies couldn’t move far enough.  And they couldn’t move fast enough. Apparently, they were not too big to flail.

According to the AMA, B2C marketers are planning to devote nearly one-fifth of their marketing budgets to social media in the next five years. In addition, growing B2B spending on social media is rising and lines up with the general goals of B2B marketers: customer relationship management and brand-building, which respondents claim will be the highest growth areas in the next year. Social marketing, with its strength in boosting brand engagement and loyalty, is an effective medium for both purposes.

That’s why Darren Ernest (above, right) is the most important man in town. He’s was one of the original SEO guys at a major NYC ad agency (Ogilvy’s neo) and is at the center of today’s biggest SEO and social media campaigns.  And he’s m3digital’s go-to social media guy. Darren is the center attraction at our meetings.  Clients talk about DRTV, print, maybe DM and then with wide-eyed interest turn to Darren and ask, “What’s the latest? Have you figured out how to make social media accountable?” He’s got the Wii controller while we fiddle with the Nintendo joy stick.

As for calculating an ROI on your social spend, the tools and metrics are getting better.  Here’s a good breakdown of the latest ways to measure your investment in social: http://www.socialtimes.com/2010/02/social-media-metrics/

ROI is the word for years to come. And as direct marketers – who have always understood that the consumer calls the shots, that ads that can’t prove their value are failures and that nimble flexibility is the key to profitability – we are thrilled to be square in the middle of this unprecedented change.

Vive la revolution de choix.

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