Why Social Media is not a Cheaper Alternative > $5 [part I]

Why Social Media is not a Cheaper Alternative > $5Written by Tehneyat who works with social media for UK’s largest direct agency, Wunderman, in London. You can follow Tehneyat on Twitter @tehneyat.

Incorrect Assumption: Social Media is Cheap

Social media is not cheap. It costs, because you have hired good people who do good work that takes time, and it costs. It is an ignorant, but growing, assumption that social media is cheap. Social, is not a cheaper alternative to your other marketing channels.

When working in social and setting budgets for social media activities, you realize that social media is far from cheap. It is simply a different channel with different behaviour. Yes, posting a video, making a status update on Facebook or Twitter might not cost a lot initially. It will cost between 2-5 minutes to splash some random content to a page, but that’s not really what you want to do. And splashing random content on to a page simply because you have access to it, is not the point of having a social presence either.

If social is to be an integral part of a brand’s presence, i.e. tying in, pushing out and implementing the beauty of the work a brand does with what its customers see, so it encourages, supports and builds customer’s behaviour, experience and relation with the brand, then you need to invest in a social strategy.

A social strategy that is planned and well thought through is one that unifies a brand’s understanding and experience of who and what it is and is experienced in the exact same way by customers. Consistency between the message that it’s pushing out and with the way it is being received is key. In order to build a strategy that is elaborate and takes into account the issues I will touch upon below require resources, not just an intern to update a brand’s/company’s Twitter profile.

Social Truth: Social tools may be cheap, but social costs because it requires people who know how and what it takes to do the work and carry it out well.

Advertising is Cheap, Resources and Production Costs Aren’t
Dennis Yu’s (very good, must read) article on How to Run an Effective Facebook Campaign for $5 discusses the costs of specific activities (ads) in social, but annoyingly like many other articles, fails to address that social media, when done right, actually costs.

The article discusses advertising costs, and starts out by explaining how it costs his employee 6 cents to run a demographic profiling on Facebook (result: 80 people out of 600 million) and target this group with specific ads. He then continues to talk about creating a ‘speciality video with a customized message’ on your Facebook landing page, and how this only costs $5.

Yu completely and utterly fails to address resource costs. Finding that piece of information (above) is a lengthy process: estimate duration for the specific task, analyse, contextualise, recommend, approve, apply and then implement, takes time. The actual cost now, for one specific individual social activity (i.e. ‘yes, click, we want to do this’ Facebook campaign for $5!!!) in reality looks a lot different. The advertising you might be buying into, yes, that does only cost you less than $5-10 in total.

Another aspect, articles like Yu’s fail to address, is the quality of the content in question and production costs for content. If you want to go viral and entertain people, better know what you are doing. People have short attention spans and are ruthless. Make sure that if you decide to put a video out there that it’s a quality product that’s fit for its purpose, and will do the job. Creating a video that can sit on your Facebook landing page, requires thinking, planning, insights and a strategy. Ideally a brand should want its community to grow organically because it is the most sustainable way of ensuring your fans stay loyal to the brand.

Social Truth: Brands that make their content work for them and their audience, pay good money for good people to create good quality content that will entertain. Production + Time + Resources = $$$.


Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.


Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.


Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.


At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.