When it comes to getting things done, we still rely on search. Google still makes most of its revenue from people searching to hire a product or service to do something.
While we use social networks to stay connected and share with others, it is conversions and not conversations that make the economic world go around.
As the Facebook IPO is fast approaching, the social network's greater stickiness is of temporary comfort if the ad revenue doesn't follow. People may be spending more time there, however ads in the middle of a social stream are just noise when they're not relevant and timely.
The numbers still support this challenge. In its current form, the network is just not performing as an ad platform. General Motors has announced it is pulling its advertising expenditure on Facebook, which according to sources was about $10 million last year, due to low direct impact on car sales.
Starting from search — what people want to buy and do, intent — and then adding social to keep an eye on where intent is moving seems to be the preferable way to go. Then, social media as content delivery and interaction mechanism can support:
- building relationships
- connecting to value
- extending to influentials
- engaging via education
- and thus helping with conversions
To that effect, a study conducted by GroupM Search I came across a couple of years back explored the interplay of social and search together, which is still relevant for digital marketing today.
There is a connection between activities in one, and results in the other — actually it's more appropriate to call it a lift, as in the chart below.
Some highlights in the report:
- Consumers exposed to a brand’s influenced social media and paid search are 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s products
- There's a 50% CTR increase in paid search when consumers were exposed to both influenced social media and paid search
- There's a 42-point lift in searcher penetration around brand product terms when consumers were exposed to both influenced social media and paid search compared to paid alone
When we discover something, in this case a brand, we're more prone to being influenced by that discovery in our search behavior. One of the key findings in the study revealed that social media exposure is correlated with lower-funnel search behavior.
One argument often made for including Facebook in a program is that the network is too big to ignore. That may be both a good and a bad thing for businesses that have complex model like an auto manufacturer.
Brand awareness is competing with the network's own brand for attention, and regional and local distribution for conversion. Almost five years ago, we were kicking the tires on the U.S. Auto Industry. An industry insider offered the following comment about the retail end:
It is my considered opinion that the entire industry needs to be reworked, from the manufacturers and their union taskmasters to the sales floor and the service bay.
I'm not sure how to go about it exactly, but I know that it involves putting businessmen in the managerial roles, rather than some dudes who sold a lot of cars ten years ago.
Service depts need to become more responsible about how repairs are handled and billed, and finance – don't get me started on finance. Change the commission structure, create openness in pricing, and purge the sales floor of the fast-talking shysters who will say anything to make a sale.
Customer Service needs to be the watchword, respecting them, caring for them, providing them with a quality product up front, and then remarkable service after the sale.
Brand-building will come organically to the dealership that takes this philosophy to heart.
Given the social first nature of interactions on Facebook, brands that are looking for more immediate return on ad investment are (for now) better off investing elsewhere. A good place to start might well be their showrooms.
And talking about who gets the value out of what, read this letter to Mark Zuckerberg courtesy of Dan Ariely: with friends like Morgan Stanley, who needs enemies? It's a breakdown of emotional value complete with dollar signs.
The corporation gets little value out of this deal. Corporations sail on the wind of trade, as in trading the model, and not on the ebb and flow of sentimental share prices.
Will Facebook take control of its promises, reach out from behind the platform and start to close the brand dissonance gap? It's the quality of that trade that determines value and the long term prospects of the business.
For a proposal delivered with confidence, contact me today.