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Marketing overkill threatening the social media golden goose


Social media marketing might be the 21st century version of telemarketing, and in similar danger of alienating consumers.

A staggering 83% of users have a bad social media marketing experience, according to a global survey by Pitney Bowes. Marketers are at risk of turning customers away from their brand as a result of what consumers see as irritating online behaviour, the technology company said.

“Unlike other channels, social media provides access to consumers’ personal lives. It opens up an ongoing, personalised dialogue with them,” pointed out Simon Bird, general manager Australia and New Zealand, Pitney Bowes Software. Consequently, “there must be a balance between fostering ongoing relationships and being seen as a nuisance,” he added.

Marketers chase a growing large pot of gold at the end of the social media rainbow. In 2012, advertising netted US$8.8 billion, accounting for over half of the total revenue from social media. Worldwide, social media revenue is projected to double to US$34 billion by 2016, according to Gartner.

Given that, and mounting fatigue from social media and evident fatigue from social media marketers, Pitney Bowes commissioned the survey, asking consumers specifically for their worst social media marketing experiences.

Last August and September, Vanson Bourne surveyed 3,000 adult consumers across five international markets (U.K., France, Germany, Australia and the U.S.) and conducted online interviews with 300 senior marketing decision-makers working in business-to-consumer organisations in seven economic sectors (Retail, Insurance, Retail Banking, Utilities, Telecoms, FMCG and the Public Sector).

Here are some major findings:

  • 34% of Australians believe they are spammed by social media marketing
  • 23% find pop-up adverts irritating
  • 14% said ads or promotions for products/services were not personally tailored to their interests
  • 6% were hacked while providing information
  • 6% said they were annoyed by friends sending frequent ‘recommendations’
  • 17% said they haven’t had a bad experience.

What social media marketers need are subtlety and sensitivity, rather than in-your-face bombardment.

“For social media marketers, annoying customers can mean lost revenue,” said Bird. “In the survey, 65% of consumers said they’d stop using a brand that upset or irritated them through its social media behaviour. That’s a pretty big deal considering the survey showed social media activity is estimated to be 25% of marketing budgets in 2013.”

Saying it is critical for marketers to develop an in-depth understanding of their customers’ communications preferences, Pitney Bowes offered a few tips to avoid the pitfalls of social media marketing, while maintaining the benefits.

1. Don’t post too often. “Many brands are guilty of posting too often. Three to four posts (plus engagement) per week is all it takes for most brands to grow audiences and capture leads on Facebook.”

2. Post original content. “It’s generally accepted that at least some of your social content should be original…If your brand only pulls content from other sources, why should I follow you and not the company creating the content?”

3. Tailor your posts. “LinkedIn allows marketers to leverage the power of segmentation with its targeting options, and on Google+, marketers can add targeted names or circles to each update.”

4. Reward customer loyalty. “Offer discounts, promotions or specials to not only encourage customers to keep using your products, but also to inspire them to keep interacting with your business on social media sites.”

5. Take advantage of customer feedback. “Whether positive or negative, it’s always important to listen to customer feedback. Take time to read consumer comments on your Facebook page. If it’s negative you can make some changes, but if it’s positive then you know you’re on the right track.”

* Image: Wikimedia Commons