Gartner analyst Adam Sarner has new research that states that 50% of all Social Media campaigns will fail. Didn't we hear something similar to this before when a study by Deloitte informed us that social networking was a waste of money? What is the real story here -- are marketing departments trying to fit social media into a traditional marketing bucket or is social media marketing just a lot of hype?According to Sarner's research, over 75% of Fortune 1000 companies have joined the social networking ranks for marketing or customer relations and that over half of these will be classified as failures.
In an interview with CNET he said, "(Businesses) will rush to the community and try to connect, but essentially they won't have a mutual purpose, and they'll fail." Mutual purpose meaning both the company and the intended audience are getting something out of it.
This news is a little worrisome considering he goes on to say that by 2012 over half of all purchases -- online and offline -- will have some type of web-based component to them. That means people use the Internet to help make decisions and social networking sites will likely be a key web component to that decision making.
Sarner says that you must have a clear purpose for creating a social media campaign. What are you trying to accomplish? Once you are clear on that, then select the appropriate technical solution to meet your needs. He cites Second Life as a prime example of a failure of social media marketing.
All of this shouldn't really be news to marketers and their companies. It seems like we constantly try to fit social media into the traditional marketing mix and come out disappointed with the results. Social networking is all about developing a community. It's about supporting your customers and building a positive brand.
The results of this type of marketing are difficult to quantify, particularly when it comes to identifying ROI. It's also something that can take a long time. So it becomes a long-term strategy and not a marketing "campaign".
Not all marketers are suited to developing a social media strategy. Some can't move outside their well known and understood marketing tools. That's why you see so many new jobs for social media strategists.
In a recent tweet of Lawrence Liu, the former Worldwide Community Lead and Senior Technical Product Manager for Social Computing and Accessibility for the Microsoft SharePoint product group (boy that was a mouthful) and now the Director of Platform Strategy for Telligent said, "My take: Social Media is Dead. Long Live Community! "
The good news is that Sarner doesn't believe companies are going to cut back on social media during this economic downturn, stating that "many businesses will turn to the Web to stay in touch with consumers during a difficult financial climate."
If you are at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2008 this week in Orlando, you can catch Sarner and learn more about his social media research.
If you want to learn more about creating a social media strategy, here are a couple of webinars that might interest you:
* How to Choose an Online Community Platform -- Telligent and B2B Marketing * Social Media Marketing: An effective way to engage your customers and stimulate your prospects! -- Awareness and Jeremiah Owyang