Are We on the Cusp of ‘Social Blindness’?

New media expert: Most 'social' campaigns are really 'anti-social'

You might have millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, but that doesn’t mean your social media campaigns are actually, you know, social.

Brian Solis, a new media expert and principal of advisory firm Altimeter group, told a group of Advertising Week marketers Monday afternoon that most social media campaigns he observes are really the opposite of what their names suggest.

“Things are so anti-social that saying social media together is like saying military intelligence,” he quipped.

Companies may diligently program branded Facebook pages and cultivate impressive fan and follower bases, but if they’re only posting product announcements or trading tweets for free iPads, followers will quickly tune out those messages or worse.

“I believe that all of these anti-social media strategies are actually about to force people to start unfollowing and unliking you en masse,” Solis said.

People joined social media to get away from one-way marketing and media messages, he said, so brands that want to succeed in social environments need to embrace the spirit of collaboration and create valuable shared experiences.

Those brands that fail to step up their social games will either literally lose followers or at least lose their attention, he said. And the recent changes to Facebook’s newsfeed only make things more difficult.

“If we thought that there was going to be any kind of deafness or blindness going on in terms of social activity, it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

The good news is that for brands able to cut through the social clutter, research indicates that the benefits are real.

Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said a recent NYU study found that “there’s a stronger correlation than we anticipated between digital IQ and revenue growth and, ultimately, shareholder value.”

The study included 800 brands and looked at 350 data points across four dimensions, such as a brand’s website, online checkout experience, digital marketing, search engine optimization, online community, and programming across major social media platforms.

Galloway said social marketing still requires something of a “leap of faith,” because while there are “hints of ROI,” it’s still difficult to find tangible returns.

But when you do find the data that that demonstrates those returns?

“This is how you get the green glands going of your clients,” he said.