“How Valuable is a Social Media Audience, Really?”

My friend Robert Cassard sent me this article from Mashable:  How Valuable is a Social Media Audience, Really?, which questions the marketing value of social media in its current configuration.

Nirvana (A Place, Not the Band)

Marketing and sales nirvana is a situation where you set up your web site, plug it into social media channels, you post some content and the leads pour in.  Your product “…sells itself..”  Haven’t seen that happen yet but I will let you know when I do.  Social media isn’t likely to deliver on this promise.

In particular, this quote struck me:

“…social middleware helps provide digital marketers and executives with interactive dashboards and tunnel integrations into traditional CRM suites — but the reality remains that these audiences still live in environments largely outside of a marketer’s control. This is why email remains the gold standard of audience ownership in digital, and continues to drive significantly greater ROI when compared to social media. Yes, email competes with a feed of content like posting in social media (though much slower moving when compared to say, Twitter), but has the advantage that once opened, it is an entirely owned experience, unfettered by artificial restraints and conflicting interests on the part of the channel owner that enabled its’ delivery. Even the email addresses themselves are a material asset as they can be brought to any other emergent social environment. Look back at every social network in it’s early days, and there is always some sort of “import email addresses” function, though there never has been an “export” function.”

Thoughtful, authentic content offered to prospects via email (and other channels) is an important piece of an early stage technology company’s marketing efforts.  It takes time and efforts and the results accrue over time.

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