Sunday, January 10, 2010

Worthwhile vs worth-less marketing tactics

Emarketer is talking about what works and what doesn't work for marketers using Facebook & Twitter. The article is based on a survey of marketers, and we all know how much I loathe survey data. This one is no exception.

Let's look at these so-called "tactics" listed and find out if they truly are successful. Success implies meeting or exceeding a goal that somehow benefits the company. Do these all? Nope. And I'll tell you why. Let's look at the reported tactics on Facebook first.

Worth-less Facebook marketing tactics
  • Created a survey of fans
    Think of your Facebook fans as your most loyal customers. Will someone who hates or is lukewarm about your brand going to become your fan? Then consider those who'll take the time to fill out your survey even more fanatical. Whatever you are asking, it has suddenly become "tell us how much you love us". What are you, six? There's almost zero value in that information.

  • Friending recent customers with corporate Facebook profile.
    That's against Facebook's terms of service. People can be come friends of other people. Companies and entities can't become friends of a person. Granted, many companies break these terms of service all the time. But until the ToS are modified, this tactic has to be considered inappropriate behavior.

  • Creating a Facebook application around a brand
    Creation without usage is worthless. Usage without purpose is even more worthless. There are great opportunities to leverage apps, but only if they drive some business goal. "Getting people to use my app" is rarely a valid goal.

  • Driving traffic to corporate materials with status updates
    If your corporate materials are boring, who cares? And is are they really worth leaving the Facebook ecosystem to see? Stop trying to get everyone to click through to your site. Start re-purposing -- re-crafting as necessary -- those materials so they are consumable in situ. Engagement doesn't mean "steal them away".

Worthwhile Facebook marketing tactics
  • Used Facebook user data to profile your customers demos or interests
    Smart, but limited as pointed out in the survey comment. And only useful if the data you mine helps to inform your real tactics to drive a business goal.

  • Buy targeted CPC ads on Facebook
    I've gone from cold to lukewarm on this one. Facebook offers some amazingly deep targeting info. Yet the goal of all the campaigns I've seen has been to either get a click or get a fan. That's missing the point, and campaigns with those success metrics will -- and do -- fail.

Before you get too caught up on the two I think are worthwhile, remember the caveats. Now, how do the reported success stories on Twitter fare?

Worth-less Twitter marketing tactics
  • Create in-person event using only Twitter invites
    I fail to see how a false sense of elitism helps your business. There may be short-term gains here, but companies who expand to other tools -- and even beyond the social sphere -- will do better. Anything else smacks of a gimmick.

  • Driving traffic by linking to marketing web pages
    Most marketing web pages suck. You're smart enough to be on Twitter. Be smart enough to realize that we don't want your same worthless drivel when we hit your website. See the next item for ideas on how to stop making terrible marketing web pages.

  • Provocative text to drive link clicks
    On the surface, this is a good idea. The 140-character restriction of Twitter causes marketers to carefully chose their words, dropping much of the superfluous bullshit. I've lumped it here because you should be doing this everywhere! Stop being boring. Hire a fantastic copywriter. Or empower your people to be witty and creative. Burn all your whitepapers! Then re-write them in a style that doesn't make people's eyes bleed, turn them landscape and start spreading them around.

  • Invite Twitter users by positive brand tweets to do...?
    Granted, I don't know what they were suggesting in the survey, as the info was truncated in the eMarketer slide. But be careful trying to thank everyone who tweets a positive experience. You should strive to provide a positive experience for every customer and hope that they all share that. Instead, showcase the fantastic reviews and shares. And do more than just follow the people that made them on Twitter, OK? That's valuable stuff you should be sharing through many different channels.

  • Increased Twitter followers by traditional media mention
    This isn't a tactic. It's a positive side effect. And one that is becoming assumed. If you get mentioned in the media, some of those readers will turn to Twitter (and Facebook and other digital media sites) for info. So be there. But I'm skeptical of the need to try and get traditional media to reference your Twitter account.

Worthwhile Twitter marketing tactics
  • Monitor Twitter for PR problems
    This remains one of the top reasons companies should use Twitter as an incredibly smart tactic. it's not always easy to do, and knowing what to do after is even more difficult. If you're not doing it; start.

  • Contacting Twitter users tweeting negatively about the brand
    And contact them publicly, right back on Twitter. It shows you care and that you are paying attention. I'm assuming you're contacting them to try and put things right. Remember, sometimes you can't. Acknowledge that when it happens and move on

  • Timing tweets to maximize views
    Twitter -- and other social sites -- shouldn't be an afterthought. Don't just dump all the updates you want when you finally get around to it. Figure out when your audience is likely to be ready to receive your message and send it then. There are tweet scheduling tools to help with this.

  • Driving sales by linking to promotional web pages
    I almost put this in the worthless pile. But good deals transcend crappy marketing-speak, so it stays in the good pile. A healthy percentage of people on Twitter follow brands precisely so they can be alerted to deals, offers and promotions. Don't only tweet about these, but they can certainly help your bottom line -- if worthwhile and done correctly.

It's good to share what is working and what isn't working. This is brand new stuff for most of us, and guides are good to have. But without knowing the measurement of that success, you're still spinning your wheels.


  1. If I were to hire a really great copywriter to help my tweet links. I would make sure they use spell check. oops..couldn't help myself

    You are correct in your prose though.


  2. then i would check my own grammar too! ;)

  3. Spot on, Michael. You'd think I'd learn before posting a hastily fleshed-out post in the wee-hours of the morning. But I seem to never be able to learn that lesson. That and I'm terrible at proofing my own stuff. Drove my editors bonkers.

  4. The people I work for want me to set up a Twitter account for the company. I've been hesitant to do so mostly because of the nature of our business (nothing shady, but we're not really retail either). However, based on your worthwhile section on Twitter, and also based on a few incidents my friends have had with businesses, I think it might be worth a shot.

    Only problem is...I'll probably be the one 'in charge' of it.

  5. Don't let them strongarm you into setting up that account, Chris. Twitter may be the new buzz, but if the company doesn't understand why they are doing it, don't. Unless they give you carte blanche to do what you want. And even if they do, YOU need to understand what you hope to get out of it and be prepared to show results.

    Good luck with the project, and keep me posted!


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