Thursday, April 19, 2012

Look at this awesome detergent I bought!!!! I'm so excited, LOL!!11!~!!

I confess to not really understanding the whole social marketing idea.

I mean, I understand how it's meant to work. Apparently we'd rather recommendations from our friends than anonymous strangers on the internet, especially since the latter may be biased.

Even this limited contention didn't quite apply to me. As long as the likely level of bias for self-serving reviews is roughly even across products (Amazon) or driven by a known function, such as a bias towards companies that advertise on the site (Yelp), I can correct for that myself. And once I can do that, I'm a big fan of the Law of Large Numbers. As N gets higher, the mean converges to the true mean (plus the bias term), and the variance shrinks. What's not to love?

Still, not everyone is a Bayesian. (I am 100% sure of this.*). Some people trust their friends' recommendations more, and I can sympathize with that viewpoint. I can definitely imagine taking a friend's advice in a discussion that came up on a product.

But the bit I stumble at is the other dimension - marketers seem to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the world is just full of people who can't wait to discuss their every purchase on some social media platform. Look, I tweeted about my new socks! Here's a facebook post about how much I love this dish sponge! I wrote an ode on GooglePlus about my camera case!

Reader, I cannot for the life of me imagine this mindset. Let's broadcast to everyone I've ever met my thoughts on every purchase! Then they'll buy the thing too, which somehow I care about.

The number of products in my life which I'm willing to evangelise about is shockingly low. I love my coffee machine. (The brand isn't important). But that's about it. Most purchases seem to fall into the category of either:
a) trivial
b) ostentatious
And either way I'm unlikely to post about them.

The only plausible exceptions I can imagine - holiday destinations, food, and maybe clothes.

Holiday photos everyone posts without feeling self-conscious. And this probably is a really good way to advertise tourism in Turkey.

Food, there's a whole sub-culture of people who for some strange anthropological reason need to photograph everything they eat. If they happen to eat at Wolfgang Puck's, I can see how Mr Puck might actually get advertising benefits on some reasonable scale.

Clothes, it already seems weird to be directly bragging about what you bought. But perhaps girls notice that you're wearing Jimmy Choos in that photo (guys sure won't. real guys won't even know what Jimmy Choos are, which surely proves the point).

So if these were the only people that were excited about social marketing, I could understand.

This is the facebook page for Colgate toothpaste. It has 1804 'likes'. And how many of those do you want to bet are people who work at Colgate? Or are personal friends of the social media manager at Colgate desperately trying to keep her job? Would you care to wager on the number out of those 1804 who are more than one degree removed from a direct employee of Colgate? 50, tops?

The company probably sunk a bunch of money into developing this, and I can't imagine how exactly that investment is meant to pay for itself, other than by demonstrating that Colgate in fact has a facebook page (which, if you don't, is like the corporate equivalent of being the one teenager who doesn't have a mobile phone).

By comparison, I googled 'One Hit Wonders 80s', and chose a random band I'd never heard of called 'J.J. Fad'. Their official facebook page has 2598 'likes'. Are you starting to see my point?

I can see what's in it for facebook. I can't see what's in it for most of the companies.

Maybe I'm just the wrong demographic, but it seems to me that most of facebook marketing is essentially the Tupperware parties of the modern age - adored by marketing theorists, kitsch and unimportant in practice.

*Bayesian joke. Never mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment