The title of my article is a paraphrase of the title of the 1982 film The Year of Living Dangerously starring Mel Gibson. In the movie Gibson plays a young reporter who is trying to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia. (Thank you IMDB).
Based on what I read, it appears the number of marketers who will be trying to navigate, not the turmoil, but perhaps the terrain that is marketing and advertising, will be at an all time high when it comes to their use of social media.
The "what" I am referring to is a recent eMarketer report “ Social Media Advertising: Seven Trends for 2014" and the ubiquitous red and black chart reflects the growing number of marketers who indeed could make 2014 the year of living socially.
As you can clearly see the number of companies using social media for marketing purposes has increased every year since 2012 and is expected to keep rising into 2015.
As to the rationale behind the increase, eMarketer points out Facebook's efforts to simplify and prove the effectiveness of its ad products as well as its ability to deliver scale and efficiency via their mobile platform.
They also make reference to Twitter, "its push for brand dollars by partnering with TV networks" and the planned acquisition of MoPub, a mobile ad technology company which will serve to improve Twitter's self-serve ad platform.
As eMarketer puts it "Social media advertising took huge strides forward in 2013, and there are multiple signs that the momentum will continue next year."
So all is well in the world of social media and 2014 will indeed be the year of living socially and marketers will rejoice from sea to shining sea.
Well, maybe not.
The Other Player In Social Media
So on one hand we have all these marketers making all these big plans to increase their spending on social media marketing.
But on the other hand there is of course the people who all these marketers are trying to engage and relate with via all the social media channels: the consumer.
Kind of helps if said consumer placed a high value on all these social media activities marketers plan on doing in 2014, doesn't it?
Take a look at these two charts and you tell me if there's a problem or disconnect between all this increased spending on social media by marketers vs. the value consumers place on it.
The above two charts come courtesy of eMarketer via marketing technology company x+1 and marketing research firm Research Now and their report, “The Marketer’s Playbook: Aligning market strategies with consumer expectations.” For this purpose and context Facebook/Twitter represent social media.
Look at the first chart. Over 4 in 10 marketers place a high value on social media, hence the increased spending. Yet less than 1 in 10 consumers feel the same way.
Now look at the second chart. Look at the low scores for social media across the board as it pertains to relevancy, accuracy and memorability.
Clearly there is a disconnect here.
How can so many marketers place so much importance on social media marketing yet so few consumers derive any value from it nor find it relevant, accurate or memorable?
Could it be that marketers still don't get it when it comes to how do social media marketing?
Could it be that, just as it was back in the day when social media was a new toy and every marketer across the land announced "I need to be on social media!"? And they did this without one thought as to how to do it correctly mind you, only that they had to do it because everyone else was (doing it).
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes, there are still marketers out there clamoring that they need to be "doing social media" - whatever that means. And there are still marketers out there who may be "doing social media" but are doing it wrong, completely wrong.
And by that I mean they're still sending out messages and missives that their audience does not care about , as witnessed by the low relevancy score. And they are still sending out posts and Tweets that all corporate-speak/sales copy - choosing to look at social media as another avenue to peddle their wares as opposed to using it as a channel to engage, relate and listen to their customers.
The bottom line?
Marketers who plan on increasing their spend on social media had better know what exactly it is they're doing with all this increased expenditures. You cannot just spend money to spend money.
Well of course you can. Happens every day in every corner of the world.
But you cannot, or better you should not increase your spending on a given initiative without first knowing how to best accomplish the initiative in the first place!
Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?