Public Stoning at the Facebook Square

It is hard to argue against the fact that social media has given power back to the people.
Social Media was used with great artistry in 2008 when the Democrats appealed to a younger generation of Americans to vote Obama, the campaigns were so effective that they won advertising’s most respected prize, the Cannes  Lion. Also recently, it was Social Media that sparked a revolt against oppressive regimes in North Africa and the  Middle East, and became the tools for freedom in Egypt.  As Social Media becomes more and more widespread, the voice of the people,  becomes increasingly influential as it infiltrates  all facets of society, from journalism to even our justice system.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the case of Jill Meagher. A tragic story of a young journalist that was missing for days and eventually found dead. The story became a Social Media phenomenon, at first Social Media was helping search for Meagher, but when she was found dead, murdered, the concern that was being expressed, turned to grief and now anger.  “A Facebook hate group against the accused in the Meagher case has already attracted almost 18,000 “likes”. ” 

The concern that is expressed by Police and legal experts is that Social Media is influencing the case even before the facts are presented.

It prompted the Victorian Police to publish their own warning on Facebook…Social Media is the democratization of journalism, anyone can be published no matter what their qualifications on any particular topic. It becomes dangerous when a group, like in Meagher’s case, starts to react to emotion and forget about an individuals right to a fair trial.

So how do we curb the mob mentality in Social Media, can we punish those who behave irresponsibly, those who incite hate; set laws and parameters, that ultimately curb free speech. If we start policing Social Media, we loose what the medium has given us, the chance to voice our opinion without the fear of reprisal, the ability to cry ‘foul’ against behemoths like governments and corporations.

In my opinion there is no quick fix to the problem, the best course of action is to educate on what is responsible behaviour in Social Media. The appropriate behaviour will only come about when individuals start to realise that what they publish can cause harm to others.




Does Social Media Lead to Sales?

There have been a few studies that have shown that most people who are fans of brands are doing it to get special treatment, in the form of ‘freebies’ and discounted prices.  This  theory was again backed by a recent article from Mashable showed “82% of respondents said Facebook page is a good place to interact with brands”.  (Murphy S, Mashable, September 2012). But whilst on the surface these results are positive, a more detailed analysis explores the motivation behind the interaction.

The study was conducted by a market research company Lab 42 who surveyed 1000 Social media users. As the Infographic shows 87% of Social Media users do ‘like’ brands on Facebook, but out of those, the majority (55%) like brands because of either promotion, discounts or free giveaways.  Which leads to the number one reason that users interact with brands, to print off coupons.

What is poignant for marketers with ROI aspirations is that 46% of Social Media Users ‘liked’ a brand but had no reason to purchase. They either wanted a free product, they can’t afford the product or they were helping out a friend.

Since most people interacting with brands are after a freebie,  is  money in Social Media well spent? According to ‘2012 Social Media Marketing  Industry Report, How are marketers using Social Media to Grow their Business’, it is.

The study surveyed over 3,800 marketers, and revealed the following facts:

58% of businesses that have used social media marketing for over 3 years reported an increase in sales over that period

69% reported increase in traffic

75% are using social media to gain marketing intelligence

58% indicated generating leads a major benefit

85% of all businesses that have a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy reported an increase in their market exposure.

The results show that Social Media aids marketers in exposure and branding,  testing and market research;   it is also a source of leads and traffic to the website and most importantly over a three year period, Social Media increases sales.

I do agree that Social Media is important for all the above reasons, but the correlation between Social Media and sales is hard one to chew over, since a closer look at consumer behaviour with Social Media brands showed that about half, don’t have any intention to buy. Is this market research pitching to the converted, that is, marketing managers who just believe in the media… do fans of a brand  spend more than non fans, and can Social Media  change my purchase intentions?