Social Media Research

New Research: Americans Hate Social Media Promotions

Jay Baer Blog PostAmong other disruptive characteristics that have altered the nature of business forever (real-time interaction, every customer is a reporter, customer service is a spectator sport, etc.) a major way that social media changes the game is the Democratization of Voices.

Your Company Needs to Be Human Because You’re Competing with Humans

Social media is the first time in history that companies communicate alongside real people, and with no inherent advantage. Go to your Facebook Wall and scroll down for a while. Mine looks something like this:










I’ll bet yours is approximately the same. Now look at Twitter (public feed of the people you follow, not lists). Basically the same, right? A mixture of people you know, people you love, people you want to know, and companies. All of them using precisely the same tools and formats to jostle for your attention. This is simply unprecedented.

Your Mom does not buy full-page magazine ads adjacent to car companies. Your friends do not make 60-second radio spots. Your high school ex-girlfriend doesn’t put up freeway billboards (unless she’s even more deranged than most). Those are brand tactics, not people tactics. Yet in social media, brands and people are using the same toolbox.

Because social media strips away the corporate communication advantages (money, personnel, expertise) they have enjoyed forever, brands often try to fight through the clutter of social media and curry your favor by giving you the BEST OFFER EVER. The paradox is that’s exactly what we don’t want.

We Don’t Want Promotions in Social Media

We the people don’t want promotions in social media. It’s not as if we signed up for social media sites so that we could hang out with software companies and hotel chains and T-shirt purveyors and ham merchants. We signed up to connect with each other, not with commerce.

New research from my friends ExactTarget (I am proud to have them as a client) puts a mathematical fine point on our collective abhorrence for social promotions. In their 2012 Channel Preferences Study (download it here for free) 1,500 Americans ages 15 and older were asked about their usage of email, social media, and text messaging. The results are astounding.

Preferred Channel for Promotional Messages From Companies Whom I Have Granted Permission to Send Me Ongoing Information

Even for companies that we have given permission to send us offers (not Spam), only 4% of us prefer those messages to be delivered via Facebook, and just 1% via Twitter. 77% of us prefer offer to be delivered via email.

Only 4% of us would look at Facebook first to find a deal from a company. Another 10% would look at Facebook second.

Where do we prefer to receive and look for promotional messages? Email. That old, neglected war horse of digital marketing still delivers the dollars, as 77% of survey participants want promotional email from companies, and 44% would look to email first to find a deal.

Be Social Don’t Do Social

I’ve been critical about Facebook’s Timeline and how the company is forcing companies to act like people on the platform.  But they’re right. If we so clearly don’t want special offers and promotions clogging our social streams, companies must focus on being social, and worry less about doing social media in ways that approximate direct marketing.

I’m not saying never run a contest or a promotion or a special offer or a threshold deal in social media. But if your company doesn’t have a social media editorial program that emphasizes spontaneous, personal, human, light-hearted, interesting, funny, timely, and photo-driven content, you are swimming against a powerful tide of customer desire.

Smart companies use social to turn customers into fans, and fans into volunteer marketers. They worry less about squeezing every nickel and click out of each tweet and status update.

The more you sell, the less you sell. 

I’d like to hear what you think in the comments. Are companies headed down a blind alley by relying too much on social media promotions? Get the Channel Preferences study for free here.

Business Relationship

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  1. JeffKingman says

    Jay, very intriguing article. 
    It’s interesting to note a similar critique of the public relations industry coming from Ron Torossian over at 5WPR in his new book. One question then is, how can brands use creativity in the Timeline APP array to engage? Gamification?

    • says

       @JeffKingman  @jeffreyjkingman Possibly. I’m a big fan of and other services that can partially gamify fan engagement. 

  2. Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

    Do you think the lack of people who look to Facebook have anything to do with a) the onslaught of sites dedicated to deals (fatwallet, slickdeals, etc.) and b) Facebooks poor job of advertising?

    • JeffKingman says

       @Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett Our research at DigitalCoco is showing a significant uptick in Time On Site in the Facebook ecosystem as a result of Timeline – on brand pages.

      • Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

        @JeffKingman – Jeff. That’s interesting. It could be people still associate Facebook “ads” with that of banner ads and not an interactive play with the brands page that would result in discounted product. Im embarrassed to say I havent read the full report yet, but will this afternoon while out in my boat. :) I hope they asked a similar question regarding customer service. I assume Twitter still reigns king in that regard, yet I bet a creative live-chat application via FB timeline page would be a great step forward for real-time resolution.

        • JeffKingman says

           @Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett  @JeffKingman A livechat app in FB Array would be intriguing. I wonder if big brands have left “on” the ability to privately message thru FB messaging – what that % of brands that do vs dont is..
          I’ve become intrigued with the subtleties of gamification in brand messaging as of late.

        • Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

           @JeffKingman – Interesting that the form to download the report requires not only an email address, but also a phone number, while the header clearly says “simply provide your email address to download the report.”  I’m not if Exact Market is aware but with an advanced Google search you can easily find the direct PDF url and bypass the subscription process. 

        • Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

           @JeffKingman Interesting that the form to download the report requires not only an email address, but also a phone number, while the header clearly says “simply provide your email address to download the report.”  I’m not sure if Exact Market is aware but with an advanced Google search you can easily find the direct URL to the PDF of the report and bypass the subscription process. 

      • says

         @JeffKingman  @Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett I think that might be natural “poking around” syndrome that happens with all site redesigns. But we’ll see whether that uptick is sustained. 

    • Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

      Ref 1.5: (pg 13) Can you REALLY lump “fraud alert” and “flight delays” into scope of a “marketer message” in the context of this survey/questionnaire?
      This seems like a reach and I thought it would be worth discussing. To think , I got all the way to page 15…
      Something tells me that when it comes to your finances or your travel plans – you’ll find very few people who would object to receiving alerts via their phone (SMS or call). Why? Because they have an element of time sensitivity and personal value attached to them.
      Think about it…If someone stole your bank account password would you really want BoA to contact you via LinkedIn? Most people, Marketing-Over-Coffee listeners excluded, rarely visit LinkedIn regularly basis. It could be days or weeks before you realize you are the proud owner of a new pair of $3,000 alligator boots.   
      The result of the two questions by Exact Target in Table 1.5 are highlighted in green indicating that consumers prefer SMS and Telephone as a form of communications from marketers.
      While that statement is accurate based on the results of the survey, I think if the question were changed to financial loan offers or vacation offers the results for SMS/Telephone would have ranked much lower than trip or fraud alerts. 
      I’d love to hear thoughts from others on this. Maybe I’m looking at this wrong. 

      • mostew says

         @Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett The study was intended to address a wide array of communications from companies to their customers/prospects and identify the channel consumers prefer companies use to send those messages to them. Marketing messages are one of those (and the one marketers tend to focus on first), while service oriented messages like flight delays or fraud alerts from banks are another.
        Agree, consumers aren’t likely to be receptive to financial loan offers or vacation offers through SMS and Telephone — the difference is the promotional vs. service angle. Hopefully looking at it through this lens will help.

    • says

       @Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett Good point. As @JayBaer said above, the research indicating that people follow brands on social media primarily to get deals, coupons, and contest announcements is indeed two years old. The explosion of deal sites like Groupon and Half Off Depot correlates with Exact Target’s suggested shift; we’re less motivated to follow brands for deals and more so for human interaction, value-add content, engagement, and in general, the more personified experience of simply interacting with Timeline. Timeline is obviously more geared toward storytelling than the old Facebook brand pages. And that circles us back to advertising canons predating social media: tell a story.
      Caveat: The deal sites environment has become saturated. We all know about the criticism for Groupon’s business model. But Google Offers just launched and I have personally noticed more and more people buying deals and coupons from these sites. Perhaps it’s just the deal sites’ existence that has helped shift consumers’ preference of brands on Facebook to being more social and less promotional.

  3. avi.kaye says

    I must admit., I don’t really understand this.
    1) From research that I read, most people want to get coupons from businesses that they ‘like’ on Facebook. Not social interactions, content, or anything else. 
    2) What you say and what the questions are asking are two different things. The answers don’t indicate that people PREFER to be told about sales via email. The answers indicate that people DON’T LOOK for those sales on Facebook. If they were offered sales via Facebook, maybe they’d jump on it every time? You’ve changed the ‘where do you look for’ to ‘where do you prefer’. Which isn’t the same at all :)
    I’m not saying that businesses should do nothing but ram sales and coupons and discounts down people’s throats on Facebook, of course. But it’s not that bad of an idea.

    • mindianajones says

       @avi.kaye Agree 100%, Avi. It’s an important distinction. I agree with Jay’s philosophy of “being” social rather than “doing” social, but not because of this data point. It’s an interesting bit of info, but not really on point.
      But let’s face it, most of us here here because “New Research: Americans Hate Social Media Promotions” caught our attention. I guess we fell for it… maybe I’ll publish a study on how Americans feel about misleading headlines 😉

      • says

         @mindianajones  @avi.kaye It’s not misleading at all. Did you take the time to read the actual report? Do that, then come back and edit your comment. 

    • says

      “Even for companies that we have given permission to send us offers (not Spam), only 4% of us prefer those messages to be delivered via Facebook, and just 1% via Twitter.”
      That’s a pretty clear indication that people don’t want offers in social media. I have also read the research to which you are referring, and it is at least two years old now, before we were besieged by offer in social media. 
      I take your point about looking for promotions in email doesn’t necessarily mean preferring email. However, the research shows that email was preferred by 77% of respondents – i just didn’t add that in the post. I’ll edit to avoid that confusion. Thanks for the heads up. 

      • avi.kaye says

         @JayBaer I went back to read the report – didn’t have time to read it first time around. Point taken (and I see you changed the image :)). But @Ari Herzog raised a very good point – I might not want to see promotions from companies, but from my FRIENDS, well, that’s a different kettle of fish. Facebook seems to be having the same idea (or done the same research) with the new ad options they’re coming out with, so maybe the next step in our role as consumers is to start visually blocking out friends who constantly talk about their ‘amazing experience at ‘Sham Harga’s House of Ribs’ .
        And then we’ll go full circle back to mail and circulars :)

  4. amvandenhurk says

    I think companies are being led down side-streets by shiny new objects. Blinded by the newness and coolness of it all they are losing focus. For me, it all comes back to know your business and customers allowing for an express route instead of side-streets.

    • says

       @amvandenhurk @JayBaer Spot on! The shiny object syndrome is a real problem. Being on every new site is a waste of you and your company’s time if your target audience isn’t on there. It’s important to stay educated of new sites and trends, but also know your audience and know when you should craft a strategy and join in and when to sit back and just observe.  Nothing wrong with either option.

  5. SayHiBen says

    An email marketing company releases a “study” slanted towards suggesting that people use email marketing and downplays the importance of Facebook, and this is a good resource?

    Granted, there are many ways that companies “do social” in exactly the wrong ways, and I think this article hits those notes correctly, but ExactTarget’s report is kind of a joke if it considers itself anything other than a marketing tool.

    • says

       @SayHiBen I know where you’re coming from, but ExactTarget has released 14 of these studies, with exceptional research methodologies. This is not the usual crap research that has taken over social media. Further, they do a lot of social media too, and own CoTweet (among other things). So, having been involved in this project, I can assert first-hand that this is a sound set of findings. 

    • mostew says

       @SayHiBen  Thanks for pointing out the white elephant in the room. Agreed, this seems fishy considering the source. We expect criticisms like this, which is why, as the person responsible for the research methodology, We do everything possible to ensure the methodology is sound.
      I would be happy to address any questions about the methodology used for this research series and will definitely entertain any constructive recommendations on how to improve it for future reports.

  6. SocialGamePlan says

    That’s interesting.  All the research I’ve seen in the past points towards consumers wanting deals and promotions through social media over everything else.

    • says

       @SocialGamePlan yeah I’ve seen that research too, but as I mentioned in a comment below, I think our attitudes are changing as more and more brands are trying to promote us to death. 

  7. Dave_F1 says

    New survey data I’ve read is similar. I believe these Contests are reaction to many HQ boardrooms adding the line item, increased “Likes” or SM subscribers, as commodity of annual sales goals.

    • says

       @Dave_F1 No question that’s part of it. What those companies don’t realize is that fan acquisition is a trailing indicator, not a leading indicator. Your fans are primarily your existing customers. 

  8. says

    When your friend posts an update checking into a Foursquare location, that is a promotion.
    When your friend posts an update ranting about bad restaurant service, that is a promotion.
    When your friend shares nothing but photos of the family, those are promotions too.
    At what point do we as people stop treating commercial entities as the only purveyors of promotions? It could be construed your blog post and my comment are equally promotions, for you seek comments and I seek replies.

    • says

       @Ari Herzog Very interesting point Ari. I haven’t considered it like that in the past. Perhaps the real issue is the messenger, rather than the message. 

    • karirippetoe says

       @Ari Herzog Very good point. We really need a pretty exact definition of a “promotion.” There are lots of brands out there that are “being” social with their fans and followers, but it’s all towards promoting themselves. Doesn’t matter if those brands are posting articles, polls or coupons.
      Personally, I don’t Like or follow a brand to have conversations with them. I want more out of that relationship than just the occasional “hi, how’ya doin'”. Sure, I Like or follow them because I enjoy the products or services they offer; but I also enjoy receiving some additional value from the social media relationship. Although I wouldn’t call it a “preference” over other forms of communication, perhaps I’m just part of that 5%.  

  9. MarieWiere says

    This is great advice. So many companies continue to struggle with social media. Many still blast their latest products, offers and promotions, without sharing any content that their customers might actually get value from. While the aforementioned can be shared in small doses, creating conversations with customers should be the main focus.  

  10. snouraini says

    Personally, I think marketing professionals who work for companies are still set in their old ways, thinking in terms of short-term ROI, who are probably under pressure from short-cited executives.  Unless companies realize that marketing through social media channels requires a whole new strategy, they’ll keep pushing their deals into people’s faces on Facebook or Twitter in the hope that some of the spaghetti they throw will stick.  Unless companies can embrace the “Unicorns and Rainbows” aspect of social media, and be comfortable with long term returns, things will remain the same.

    • karirippetoe says

       @snouraini I think it’s difficult for many companies to embrace the “Unicorns and Rainbows”, because they feel like they can’t track the warm and fuzzy part of social media. How do they know how many of those new customers bought their product because of something they saw on Twitter or Facebook? They hold promotions exactly for this reason – they tie a special discount code to it and track the promotion through a special app or platform. Bam – instant ROI. 
      I’m not saying there aren’t other ways to track return on social media efforts, I’m just saying it’s very difficult to convince many of the short-sighted executives you mention that building a passionate, praise-singing social media community over time without easily-trackable promotions can work. Especially when you’re trying to reach a short-term marketing goal.

  11. AlbertMaruggi says

    The irony here is that since it’s early days more people are acting like companies on social media than companies acting like individuals

      • AlbertMaruggi says

         @JayBaer this could well be just me suffering from TSMF (temporary social media fatigue – i just made that up) but from the early days of “personal branding” to today’s complex social analytics, social is beginning to feel more like a Skinner rat maze than a forum for discovery.  Now surely our conversation here is a contradiction about promotion right, in fact i have a cup of coffee and you might as well. So this is an example of how social has expanded my world, and thank you for that. 
        But in the context of social we all seem to have accepted “promotion creep” (this is used in the same vein as project management’s term “scope creep” not like yeah that guy is a creep) 
        I felt the same way when corporate logos were painted on NHL ice surfaces, I thought dang even there?  Jay, you won’t offend me if you said I’m just getting old, cause I am. : ) 
        All the best. 

  12. ArnoldWaldstein says

    Well said.With my clients I find this day after day.While I agree, let’s be clear, companies aren’t a person, they are a business.That difference is where this get’s interesting,

      • ArnoldWaldstein says

         @JayBaer Lot’s more noise than signal going on.It’s easy to throw stones. It’s hard to come up with examples of people/companies especially smaller ones who have found a way that works.Examples from your clients? 

  13. NancyCawleyJean says

    Love this post, Jay, and I couldn’t agree more. Social is for exchanging ideas not for companies to shove products at us. Of course for brands it usually comes down to money and social media is viewed as another way to help increase profits, sadly. The fact that being social, being friendly and helpful and building content that positions you well, is now taking a back seat to the ads and promotions.

    • says

       @NancyCawleyJean Right but they are not mutually exclusive. You very much can use social media to improve your company financially, but it’s over the long haul via loyalty and retention and customer advocacy, rather than the short haul of instant purchase. 

  14. cbarger says

    I agree with much that’s in here, Jay – nice post. I’m wondering if the message also applies not just to brands in social media, but to individuals — specifically, the purveyors of the “personal branding” movement? Seems to me that people who could also really learn from this lesson are the folks who are busily trying to incorporate what at best are corporate branding techniques to their own reputation or at worst is the same overly self-promotional blather that too many brands and companies mistakenly still use within social networks.  
    “Be social don’t DO social” is fantastic counsel for anyone in social media – whether the big brand trying to figure out revenue and ROI and value from the social web, or the individual thinkers within social networks trying to find purchase for their ideas and writing. 
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post as usual, Jay.

    • says

       @cbarger Thanks Chris. I think you’re on the same wave length as @Ari Herzog below who made the case that everything is potentially a promotion. I just tweeted this post, thus is that a promotion? Perhaps so. Maybe our problem isn’t the message, but the messenger? Certainly, I am personally more annoyed by Farmville updates than I am by corporate promotion. 

      • cbarger says

         @JayBaer  @Ari Herzog Thanks Jay. I’m not sure everything is a promotion… ideally, like you said (or like I think you meant, anyway!), to do well one is not promoting as much and are just being smart and talking with people in ways that make them want to do business with you, whether the “you” is a company or an individual. 
        I think you’re right that maybe messenger is more annoying than the message, in any context. We tolerate stuff from brands we like far more than we accept the same behavior from brands we dislike. Farmville and Mafia Wars are more annoying than a contest from a brand I’ve chosen to like, I think. And promotional tactics from people we think are more promotional than pensive are annoying, while the same tactics from someone we respect are less bothersome. In general, that is.  😉
        Anyway, thanks again for the post, good way to start the week!

        • nateriggs says

           @cbarger  @JayBaer  @Ari Herzog 
          Most of the promotions we see are heavily weighted to the favor of the brand.  For instance, restaurants will offer discounts only if they can hedge their bets that the discount will increase the size of the average guest check or increase traffic during a slow day part. In the end, the consumer doesn’t get all that much value.
          Personal brands who can be promotional AND be social at the same time are few and far between … and chances are, a good amount of them are self-employed because of their skills.
          For example, Exact Target’s brand as well as Convince and Convert siting the background of this entire post and discussion. No one minds or is annoyed because the brands themselves have added real value for the audience.
          For promotional activities to not be seen as “annoying” value must be equal across the brand (Exact Target, Convince and Convert), brand advocate or persona (Jay) and customers (us reading and in the comments — some of whom control budgets to by services and products from the brands who might use ET or CC someday).
          So then, if it brands are forced to be humans (a good thing) and it takes a special human to be able to pull off social promotion without annoying the audience, is the real problem solved in the HR department?
          Sorry for the dissertation, but you folks started a really interesting discussion…

        • says

           @nateriggs  @cbarger  @Ari Herzog You’re right Nate. And that’s what makes it hard for companies. Marketing has been an impersonal exercise for so long that to now say “you can have all the great information in the world, but a human touch is required to do it well” is not something that makes intuitive sense, or fits neatly into a spreadsheet. To a lot of old-line marketers, this whole social thing seems like alchemy, as it puts so much emphasis on the messenger rather than the message.

  15. lisasullivan05 says

    Interesting data but even more interesting of a conversation taking place here. I have to go back to one of my favorite books I’ve ever read about the topic of social media and marketing, Seth Godin’s “Tribes”. While ROI and conversions have been the topic of discussion the last couple of years, I also go back to engagement because really that’s all it boils down to, doesn’t it? In order to build your tribe of advocates, you must engage them by providing something that is of value to them – information, expertise, and yes, even the occasional coupon/discount.
    I have long since subscribed to the philosophy of take care of the people and the rest will follow with “the rest” being conversions, sales, combinations thereof. Not every company or organization using social media goes for the sales lead or the sales conversion; sometimes it’s just being the go-to for topic X because your company or organization is the expert in topic X and thus, that provides value, which as a result, leads to your tribe of advocates.
    All this to say, that the data in this study just validates what the people want on social media – to be valued, to be listened to, to be communicated with and not pushed to.  Take care of the people and the rest will follow.
    Thanks for sharing, Jay.  Maybe I’m off the mark but it’s not always about sales. Sometimes, it’s just about how you (a company, a org) can help your audience. The sales will follow.

    • says

       @lisasullivan05 Exactly Lisa. It is all about sales, but you hit the nail on the head….”The Sales Will Follow.” Social success is the long con, not a smash and grab. 

  16. kmskala says

    I’d argue that a lot of people, if not most, do want social media promotions. They just want smart social media promotions. Research indicates that most people follow brands for discounts and promotions. Keep in mind, that you and a lot of us, come at it from the business perspective. Of course we say people want humans — and they do, to an extent. But in the end, a lot of people still want promotions and discounts.

    • says

       @kmskala I’ve seen that research too (most recently from Lithium, a social media company) that suggests we “like” brands on Facebook primarily for access to offers. While those findings appear to contradict these, they actually don’t.
      You can prefer to not have offers delivered in social media (as was uncovered in this study), and still have a scenario whereby people who do “like” brands do so for access to offers. They are two different data points on two different questions. The other key part of that comparison is the fact that most people “like” only a handful of brands. Far fewer than most marketers believe, in my estimation. 

    • lisasullivan05 says

       @kmskala Actually, I follow upwards of 600+ brands on Facebook alone and for me it’s not about the promotion from THEM in so much as it’s ME being able to promote them myself. Every time I tag a company in my status update, image I upload, or recommend them (through that feature), I am the one that directs the promotion versus the opposite. While I do love a good coupon or sale or something, here’s what I’d rather see…and maybe it’s the old-fashioned way but…I’d rather see a handwritten note (or an email, sure) directed toward me thanking them for promoting their business and because they really want to thank me, they are sending me a coupon for 10% off my next haircut or a free appetizer with my next meal or 15% off my home inspection (if I were to be in the process of purchasing a home, obviously). I’d rather see a real thank you then a static run of the mill promotion. Even then, I don’t look for it every time either. If I’m a loyal customer or I’ve promoted them often, all I ask is to be acknowledged for helping them out.

      • says

         @lisasullivan05  @kmskala Wow! You are definitely the exception. I’ll try to find it, but I believe the average is something like 12 brands, and decent chunk of Facebook users “like” no brands at all. 

        • lisasullivan05 says

           @JayBaer  @kmskala I try to be the exception. :) But, seriously, every single time I visit a business or use a product or service and they’re GOOD, I want to acknowledge them and I LOVE doing that through tagging. If I can give a plug for outstanding product, customer service, what have you, I’m going to do that. So, yes, I may “like” 600+ brands on Facebook but you know that if I use your product or service and you treat me well, I’m going to not only talk about it, but reference you and tagging makes it easy to do just that. It’s brilliant, if you ask me!

  17. AndreeaC_T says

    I think it all comes down to moderation. Too much of anything is bad. I can see the validation of this data. And I think @lisasullivan05  is correct in that it’s not always about the sale. It’s about informing the consumer, whether it’s through email or social media. Convince your target market that you are the best by giving data and facts, reviews, etc. Consumers will then make the best choice. Including a promo here and there helps, but that shouldn’t be the basis of all messaging…anywhere, whether in email, social, or even print.

  18. says

    I’m included to agree here, but as @Ari Herzog mentioned, many of the social interactions you already see are a type of promotion. That, in my opinion, is where much of the social currency lies. Seeing “Jeff is currently at so and so restaurant” doesn’t seem like a promotion. While it certainly is, it’s something that provides value (or should) to those I choose to share that information with. Social promotions to often seem out of place. It’s the ones that seamlessly integrate themselves into social that are the most successful. 
    Many brands attempt to take the “sell sell sell” road or the “okay we’ll talk…but buy this first” road, instead of the “taking care of people and building relationships” road. Unfortunately, brands (and clients) often want to see results now and don’t want to build. I think that’s why we see a proliferation of social promotions.
    I also agree with the comment @cbarger made. Too many people are trying too hard to prove that they experts and spend more time promoting themselves as social, rather than being social.

    • says

       @jpeters1221  @Ari Herzog  @cbarger Excellent comment, many thanks for taking the time. What would be an example of a company promotion in social that also provided value?

  19. willsmith says

    You know, it does drive me crazy to see as many brand messages as friend messages on my newsfeed. I typically will just hide their updates though, if they get too spammy for my taste. That is one huge benefit of interacting with brands via Facebook (as opposed to Twitter). I tend to find the interaction with brands on Twitter very noisy, and thats one place where following a bunch tends to make the entire service unusable.

  20. westseattleblog says

    Thank you. As a market-leading media outlet, I let marketers and businesses know that we do NOT share news about contests that require liking on Facebook, retweeting on Twitter, signing up for mailing lists – nor do we promote charity donation drives that require voting via liking on FB, etc. etc. If your company wants to donate to charity, do what MY teeny-tiny company does – JUST DO IT. Don’t force prospective recipients to prostitute themselves out by doing your marketing to wheedle for a few bucks. Don’t force goodhearted people to subject themselves to your marketing just because they want to help charity X. STOP IT, JUST STOP IT. This is NOT what social media is for and about. If you deserve “likes,” you wlll get them. We did, you can too.

  21. blitztweeter says

    People don’t *want* TV advertisements either, but they have been effective. Wherever people go for entertainment, corporations will follow. How they manage their campaigns is what determines if they are using the medium effectively.

    • TheBigOne says

      I’ve notice it also has to do with the economy where if it’s doing good then there is more creativity.

      When social media was new the economy was good due to tax cuts so businesses didn’t feel the need to stick their nose where it don’t belong and now that businesses are being over regulated due to a certain President and congress I won’t name those same businesses are acting like animals that know they are about to be caged.

      So now they are acting defensively. I don’t hate these businesses just like I don’t hate sharks even though they go crazy when they smell blood as it’s a natural instinct in which they can’t help themselves but that doesn’t mean I won’t defend myself both verbally and physically if needed.

  22. pbj says

    I think this piece hits the nail on the head, for the most part. There is one are where I believe it misses the mark – the last two paragraphs. 
    Jay, you make a very strong point about being human and bring a great revelation to the “toolbox.” What I think is missing, though, is the idea that if you are being human, then you don’t make volunteer marketers you make friends. At the end of the day, as a brand, you make fans and then fans should become friends. Or act as friends would. I can easily see how a friend or volunteer marketer to a brand can easily mean the same thing. 
    Maybe it’s a measure of semantics, but I’d argue and say those two items are different. Friend’s don’t always interact with one another but they still maintain the interest of one another. You’d think with one-to-one messaging in Facebook and the one-to-one efforts brand’s can have on Twitter, as well as other platforms, that brands would approach users/consumers/customers as friends rather than anything else. 
    I’d much rather help my friend move, sell their lemonade or help them start their own blog than any acquaintance or brand. 

  23. BrentAlbrecht says

    Jay, interesting post, but there are several other studies out there that contradict this – with questions asked from a different angle, such as, “why do you Like or become a fan of a business page”  the #1 answer – to receive special offers and incentives.  The way Exact Target asked these questions skewed the results…and I think including the 15 year olds alone would change the outcome – don’ t you think?

  24. CedarBrown says

    I agree Jay. All it is is just another push strategy rather than a “build social relationship” strategy. By building relationships with your followers you hope to create brand advocates. By building this trust and inspiring your newfound markerters, it will then be easier to occasionally toss in a promotion. You can’t throw the burgers on the grill just because the coals are flamin’, you have to build them into to red hot coals that will stay hot for much longer, which will then create a perfectly grilled burger! I hope that makes sense :)

  25. says

    People with “salesy” Twitter backgrounds kind of miss the point in having a background in the first place. Backgrounds should just be cool! I’d rather have a background on my Twitter account spark a conversation then one that promotes my “cool stuff”.
    I think the same thing can be applied to Facebook Timeline Banner images. People like pictures, videos, and cool content on social media. That’s why people are “social” about it. They share it with their friends and colleagues. 
    If we want special offers we’ll check our inbox and wait for the latest Groupon.
    Interesting post Jay Baer. 

  26. DGoodrich says

    Very interesting post Jay. I think about it in terms of sales people. People don’t like “sales” people, but the most successful sales people are people that we like. We want to buy things from people that we like, not people that are pushy and trying to get us to buy something. This directly correlates into how brands are behaving on social media. Your post inspired me to write my own blog, check it if your interested in my thoughts live

  27. CarriBugbee says

    I agree that nobody like interruptive marketing: not on TV, radio, print or social media. That said, we’ve all gotten used to it with “old media” because that’s how media survives, particulalry in absence of subscription costs. So, while people may not like ads or promotions in social media, I think they’ll get equally used to that. Right now it’s still new and it wasn’t what the average user initialy thought social media was about. But most grown-ups understand the value exchange, particularly if they’re getting a service for free. 
    As for email being preferable, I think eventually that will change as well. Likewise, while I love reading the ExactTarget reports (I’ve probably downloaded them all), it’s good to remember that every vendor engaged in content marketing obviously wants to support their products and email is at the heart of ExactTarget, even though the company has added a lot of social goodies to its platform (I was an early user and fan of Co-Tweet). I’m not surprised ExactTarget would have a report stating email is the preferred methodology for promotions. Indeed, I would expect nothing less. :-)
    As a marketer I definitely recognize the value of email and always tell clients to aim to capture an email address, regardless of what platform they’re on. That’s the only way to create a lasting connection with prospect. But as a consumer, I’d much rather be exposed to social media marketing than email marketing. The volume of email I get is crushing and mostly goes un-read, whereas I’m likely to click on an ad with a fun visual that catches my attention.

  28. CarriBugbee says

    Jay, I forgot to mention I’m glad to hear you’ve been critical of Timeline. I thought I was the only social media geek who hadn’t gotten drunk on the Facebook Kool-Aid. I think it’s an abysmal, cluttered design that doesn’t reflect how brands actually do marketing, but that viewpoint is definitely in the minority.

  29. says

    Great post. Aggressive campaigns fails to generate any leads. It’s true with social media where people gather for conversation and not for any brand discussion. 

  30. missthegoodoledays says

    personally I only “like” businesses on FB that I know on a personal level and honestly I have not been a customer to a lot of them simply because I have not needed their particular service but because they are friends I feel the need to hit like when they send a request to me as for Twitter I don’t have a personal account but a previous employer of mine hired a consulting company that created a fake account of a lady that was tweeting in a strategic way to gain followers so that when she (the non existent lady) had a high number of followers she would then include the name of the business…I had to write 500 tweets in a weeks time to send to this company so they could post as this non existent lady on behalf of the company and they posted 3 tweets every day and that was when I decided I would never tweet again

  31. TheBigOne says

    The internet has been bought out by the mega corporations that don’t really care about the internet except to make money. No more creative drive.

    I’ve notice that since 2005 or so where the commercialization took full swing and they want to be like kings and us the peasants.

    However the other alternatives suggested are not good either as they also lead to tyranny in a different sort where everyone is equal but too poor to make a working economy so I guess we have to figure out which is lesser of the evil.

    I think both mega corporations and the socialists are in bed together and we are seeing two sides of the same coin and it will be only a matter of time before a false flag happens that will make the US and UK governments flip the kill switch in which a national firewall prevents us from seeing anything but red.

    I am downloading my favorite stuff *mostly old stuff not sold in today’s stores* and saving them to USB in case that ever happens then I won’t be pucked to put it nicely. *I am not sure if swearing is allowed due to excessive swearers ruining it*

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