Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Getting" Social Media Takes Work and Time

We might generally agree at this point that social media tends to work better for consumer brands than for business-to-business brands, though at some point that is likely to change.

What is harder to contest is the issue of what it takes, not to understand, but to use, social media such as Facebook. A new study by A.T. Kearney illustrates some of the issues. The study found that 89 percent of consumer replies on company’s Facebook pages remained unanswered. To be sure, not every post requires a reply. But A.T. Kearney points out that Gucci didn’t reply to a single thread in the last three months.

That appears to be a common problem that mostly is "budget" related. Though it doesn't necessarily "cost" much to use Facebook, replies imply monitoring, and that takes people and time. And if the volume of replies and comments is large, then the labor to monitor and reply is going to be significant. Few large firms seem prepared to create entirely new staffs to handle this function, and perhaps few small firms can do so.

Even when marketers responded, only 15 percent of their posts “invited further conversation” and 17 percent actually “addressed the consumer by name. That is arguably tougher in a business-to-business setting, because many, if not most posts in such settings are "anonymous," suggesting that a poster needs or wants to keep an identity hidden. That's not so useful.

Firms that were a bit more friendly and responsive on Facebook averaged a consumer-to-company post/response ratio of 3:1. Most, however, had a 1:4 ratio. If you think about it, that's probably reasonable, since not every post does require a substantive reply.

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