Afterthought: Social Media

(EN: the author slips in a section on social media, which I've chosen to treat as an appendix, as it's not well integrated into the content of the book. It's short and superficial, out of place with the rest of the book - but it bears annotating to gain a sense of perspective taken by traditional retailers toward the new media that they don't understand and are struggling to leverage.)

The author regards social media as "a relatively new form of loyalty building" and acknowledges that entire books have been written on the subject. His own experience has been limited to "a few years" with mixed results.

First, it's important to consider that not all Internet marketing is social media. "Many people" believe that search engine optimization, keyword management, and banner advertising are forms of social media marketing - but they are distinctly different. Social media is about monitoring and interacting in conversations with people, not pushing information to them.

He finds social media to be difficult, particularly in getting any type of measurable gain - it's spread out on various sites all over the Internet and people use different names in different forums. Tracking an individual through the myriad social media sites and correlating this to the actual person who walks into a store is a huge and evasive task.

(EN: Likely not so much anymore. Most people link their social media sites to make themselves findable - their Facebook account links to their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, and Blog, and the others link back, such that by asking for a person's social media account, or even their e-mail address, you have the ability to connect the dots.)

He also asserts that many firms offer false promises of being able to tame the social media tangle: that they can track individuals, accurately calculate ROI, and the like. But in his own experience, they do sloppy work and it is dangerous to assume their figures as accurate.

At best, social media can be useful as an aggregated indicator of consumer sentiment. Still a bit sloppy, because the information is free-form and you never know what you're going to get. It's like asking random questions of random people and attempting to analyze their unstructured comments.

His suggestion to companies that wish to leverage social media is to start small, and keep simple and clear goals:

  1. Find out where conversations related to your brand or product are occurring
  2. Then, listen to what is being said and analyze the conversation
  3. Then, participate reactively in conversations,
  4. Finally, build your credibility to the point where people will listen to you.

Even then, start with a single product, and modest goals.

(EN: HE offers a bit of advice on each of the four points - and it's generally good, but quite basic. It's probably good, and responsible, of him to be very superficial and vague about the topic, and he seems to have the right mind-set, but this is more of an opinion piece and does not mention specific analytics. Likely better to consult a more experienced and authoritative source.)