Social Media Marketing: No Guarantees

Picture1In yesterday’s post I looked at Forrester Research’s view on the changing role of Advertising.  Today, using the same chart from their report as my guide, I’ll discuss the Benefits and Challenges of “Owned Media.”

First off: “owned media” – whuzzat?  Well, Ms. Corporate Marketer, that’s your stuff.  Your blog, your tweets, your Facebook Fan Page.  That’s the Content Marketing, “company-as-publisher” model that’s turned our world all topsy.

According to Forrester analyst Sean Corcoran, the benefits of owning your own media channels and assets include Control … Cost efficiency … Longevity … Versatility … and, Niche Audiences.

In other words, cuz you own it — and cuz the quality expectations are relatively low — the brand doesn’t need to spend a ton of $$ on outsiders, production or distribution in order to engage in on-going relationship-building across lots of different audience segments/channels.  You can throw up a 90–second Flip video about your new product, then tweet that link and share the video on Facebook.  Nice.

But let’s delve into the challenges of Owned Media.  Corcoran points to three challenges, and we can quickly deal with 2 out of 3: “Company communication not trusted” and, “Takes time to scale.”

Of course “company communications are not trusted.”  After knocking us all upside the head for the past 50 years with crappy ads and disingenuous PR spam, most companies will need to demonstrate uber levels of authenticity, transparency and humility to win consumer trust.

And, this needs to happen thoughtfully, scaling incrementally across any and all major channels in which consumers care to engage. (BTW this part can suck for the marketer: regardless of the company’s diligence, consumers rule, i.e., a company that did an awesome job on MySpace may need to — ruefully — lighten up there and move to just-as-good communications on Facebook).

But now let’s move to the third and trickiest of Forrester’s stated Challenges of Owned Media:  “No guarantees.”

Having not paid the $500 to read the full report, I shouldn’t speculate about what Corcoran & Co. meant by “no guarantees.”  It likely means, “You do as good a job as you can with Owned Media … but still no one seems to care.”

This is why the title of the Forrester report, “No Media Should Stand Alone” is critical.  We still see too many Social Media zealots suggesting that the rise of self-publishing models mean, “Advertising is Dead” or “PR is Dead” or “Journalism is Dead.”  That’s utter B.S.

The continuum of activities is what’s important.  The force-multiplier effect of doing PR and Advertising and Social Media (and Direct Marketing and SEO, etc.) is what works.

If the corporate marketer does a good job with Owned Media, its brand enthusiasts (and their own immediate social circle) will applaud.

But, no one else (who doesn’t follow ‘em on Twitter nor considers “fanning” them on Facebook, etc.) will know nor care.

It’s the next concentric circle of audiences — let’s call ‘em the Convinceables — that the marketer must reach, and they’ll do so via more “traditional” avenues of PR and Advertising.

Having used PR & Advertisements to motivate these Convinceables to do a Google search, those new prospects can be delighted by the level of content and conversation that the brand’s well-cultivated Owned Media have spurred online.  Lo! A new fan/follower/customer is born!

But, there are no guarantees.

Posted on: January 5, 2010 at 11:46 am By Todd Defren
56 Responses to “Social Media Marketing: No Guarantees”


  • Marcel says:

    Social media evolved to a great marketing tool. A Business as Dell gives there old stuff a life by super sale tweets. Linkedin makes it possible to find new companies and contact them by someone you know, how social do you want to get.

    Like always, don’t target one type of media but target internet marketing as a whole. Seo, Social media and adwords for example.

  • Sosyal Medya says:

    I never thougt that pr is dead. Google always renews its algorithm. So,in near future, content will be king. I think, social media’s roi is the best measurable roi.

  • Hayley Budden says:


    I agree whole heartedly with your article as I predict this new revolution of social media will only grow into an empire and companies will fall without it. They will also fall without the force multiplier effect. I completely agree. Best of Luck!

  • Adam Gray says:

    I wholeheartedly agree, there are no guarantees.

    There are guarantees though with traditional advertising… I guarantee you’ll get less ROI than you thought you would!

  • Akash Sharma says:

    Great analysis Todd, All the the three points are worth learning for many firms dependent and non dependent on social media for there customer initiatives.One thing is obvious that focus on different channels where we can connect with customers is very important as the point is if they have not seen you much on traditional media they might change thoughts on your existence as a company which offers relevant products or services.
    One most important thing which we should remember in engaging with people on all the channels is that we have to give people a reason to talk about us and help them may be with the social tools to communicate with us as well.

  • tino says:

    Do as much as you can. Start with social media and set a goal, if that goal is not achieved try SEO and so on. Eventually your persistent hard work will pay off. What works for one company doesn’t mean it will work for another.

  • Ryan Miller says:


    First of all, it’s great to have you back posting. You give us a lot to think about and this post hits the nail on the head. It’s certainly not an either / or when it comes to Social Media and Traditional.

    But the force multiplier effect and the thinking of audiences as concentric circles is what really what struck a chord with me. It’s a great way to look at where your different forms of media are aimed at and is an analogy I’m sure to start using with my clients.

    Wishing you much success in the New Year.

    • Hi Todd,

      Thanks for another great post. I enjoyed this post because as an aspiring Marketing pro, I myself have thought a lot about which area of marketing I want to focus on most. Do I like PR specifically? Advertising? I sometimes can’t decide. What I realized during this pondering is that I love the whole package. I’m most interested in how the integrated efforts make a difference. I guess I’m a big picture thinker. That being said, I fully realize that I will have to start out in one area and get to the big picture stuff later on in my career. I’m hoping it’s PR I can begin with! (and full disclosure, I hope it can be at a place like Shift!)
      Best of luck in 2010!

  • The force-multiplier effect of doing PR and Advertising and Social Media is what works. If the corporate marketer does .

  • Thanks for mentioning this Forrester report. I think you’re exactly right about the force-multiplying effect of being involved in various on- and offline channels. I think that while social media doesn’t offer any guarantees (much like every other kind of marketing that you’re doing for the first time) there are things about it that provide a greater chance of success, particularly when you invest some time and capital into creating a solid, shareable presence on these sites that encourages not only your brand advocates and their immediate social circle to get involved, but creates ripples through their social circles, and so on.

    I’m pretty interested to see how Pepsi handles this, as they put the dollars they were going to spend on their Super Bowl ads into a social media campaign. It should be a decent bellwether to let us know whether social media is indeed a better guarantee than traditional advertising.

  • Nice Article.

    I predict that in the near future everything WILL change even more than it has already in the marketing spectrum.

    Companies who do not indulge heavily into Facebook, Twitter, Blogging etc. will look like fuddie duddies. This is virtually FREE Marketing and unless you begin NOW engaging your employees, friends, neighbors,dogs, cats, your company will be sadly outdated.

    Get everyone involved in Facebook NOW!

    The Merchant Maven.

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