Social Marketing has come a long way since the advent of social media. In addition, forward leaning companies excited for the potential quickly adapted to the “new fangled” ways of engaging the audience. Blogs, micro blogs, podcasting, aggregation have all, to one degree or another, found acceptance in “business as usual.”
Sadly, I am still too often reminded-as in this last weekend-that there are many companies who have yet to embrace “social business.” Is it simply a matter of time before every company understands the inevitability of this social marketing paradigm? Or maybe, it’s not a systemic issue at all but just a matter of educating staff?
I Can’t Take Pictures Why?
I was in a furniture store this last Sunday. Let’s call the store “AH.” I found a rather unique lamp stand (see picture at left), well, unique for me anyway. I immediately whipped-out my IPhone, pulled up Instagram, and snapped that picture. While I was pausing to make sure the picture took, I had a visit by a sales person.
“I’m sorry, we don’t allow in-store photography (does IPhone really constitute as “photography? )” At this point I had already made sure the photo was good, looked over at her and asked why on earth not? She then quoted me chapter and verse about practices of aggressive competitors, copyright infringement, and – wait for it – “proprietary display technology” (say what?).
Perhaps you can find the proprietary display technology in that picture. I can’t.
I came “this close” to invoking the virtually irrefutable benefits of social marketing, and regaling her with the concept of free advertising…but I just made nice. She was a non-policy making floor employee upon whom my proselytizing would have been lost. And I had the picture anyway.
That’s Not How We Do it Today
This event thoroughly flies in the face of social marketing and relationship building. It does not do a company good to alienate any customer with access to thousands of potential customers. I was not offended but it did make me think.
What was the possible PR cost of AH’s operating policy?
- Possible loss of one customer (me)
- Bad press via my blog/micro blog
- A loss of free store/product advertising
Number 3 is the most significant because I do not “bad mouth” individuals or organizations (bad mouthing organizations has no place in legitimate social marketing). I simply publish nothing and say nothing. But what about all those free eyes on product AH didn’t get because the customer went away mad? Lets look:
I posted the photo to my twitter account. It was picked up by 3 other people:
- My account 10,000+ followers
- Retweet Nr. 1 1700+ followers
- Retweet nr. 2 5000+ followers
- Retweet nr. 3 3000+ followers
Total potential: 20,000 pairs of eyes on one product and that doesn’t include possible retweets I can’t see. The potential is nothing less than staggering and all free. Just how much does, say, a 30 second spot on TV cost by comparison?
According to “Ad Age,” a 30 second spot during “Glee” costs an advertiser $267,000 dollars in which they may reach millions of viewers, assuming those same viewers don’t turn down the volume, go to the bathroom, get a snack, or (GASP!) Tivo out the commercial. This is the new advertising paradigm: the public is tired of advertising as usual…so they tune it out.
Can business today continue to alienate customers with immediate access to 10s of thousands of other potential customers?
The moral of this story? Let us wander the store and take all the pictures we want. We can “sell” to millions of customers…for free.