As we mentioned last week, we recently read a post by Frank Eliason on Social Media Today that resonated with us. In case you don’t know, Frank Eliason gained a lot of respect in the business, marketing, and social media worlds for his Comcast Cares online effort. If you heard the stories about the Comcast technician who fell asleep while on hold with his own company, you understand the hurdles Eliason had to jump through to remove Comcast from everyone’s “most hated brands” book. The Comcast Cares effort appears as a social media success story in many business books because the effort was so effective.
Given that, you might be surprised to find that the title of Eliason’s blog post is, “Social Media As We Know It is Dying And I For One Am Glad!” How could a man who made a name for himself on social media suddenly turn a 180 and come out against social media? Well, it’s not quite so simple as that.
The Tough Questions
When Eliason was new to social media, and especially to Twitter, the talk was all about the soft and fuzzy side of the business world. He writes, “At the time we were just meeting new friends and talking about what the future would be.” People were in love with social media in the way that teenagers fall in love. Everything about the new online world was wonderful. Every company had the potential to be a Zappos. Every person had the capacity to become a “twelebrity.” And why not? The platforms were new, the styles of communication were new, and the possibilities seemed endless.
Eliason reflects on an innovative campaign from these early years of social media – The Pepsi Refresh Project. Eliason notes, “When it launched it was by far the most discussed brand effort in social, reaching billions of hits. That was in the 1st quarter of 2010 but by the 1st quarter of 2011, Diet Coke surpassed Pepsi to become the number 2 softdrink.”
This is where the tough questions start to emerge. If Pepsi had a huge “share of voice” online, Facebook fans, trends on Twitter, and millions of YouTube views, how was Diet Coke able to surpass them? For Eliason, this seems to be when the romance of social media started to wear off. He notes,
In the past marketers pointed to ‘likes’ as the measurement of choice. We do not even know who the like is from: Customer or Prospective Customer. We did not even know that they were even a human being. Now we are seeing companies question these vanity measurements and ask how these efforts impacted the bottom line.
It seems to us like Eliason is saying that the era of just focusing on “conversation” or “engagement” is over. Maybe social media never should have been promoted that way in the first place, at least not to businesses. Last week we talked about how there appears to be a decreasing amount of human-to-human connection in the online world. But you cannot err the other way either. Businesses are now beginning to understand that “chatting” is not really a business strategy. As Eliason says, the bottom line requires a more thorough, aggressive analysis.
What do you think? Do you agree with Eliason that the world of social media as it existed three or four years ago is changing for the better? How does this contrast with the lack of human, real-time interaction we discussed last week? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scratch_n_sniff/539468298/ via Creative Commons