Don’t give away the farm

For some brands, success in social media marketing seems to be an end in itself, regardless of the method used to achieve it.

The US budget airline JetBlue recently trumpeted its success in marketing on Facebook after it managed to offload a limited number of $10 tickets. Virgin airlines boasted that it got 500 takers for tickets through Twitter’s new ad platform Promoted Tweets – at a 50% discount.

But is this a good way to engage consumers on social media networks? Blogger Patricio Robles thinks not.  What these and other brands are doing, he suggests, is first give away or significantly discount product, then promote it on sites like Facebook or Twitter, then rave about the warm consumer response ‘while acting surprised that consumers were interested in said product’.

What seems to be happening, Robles suggests, is that some marketers are so in thrall to the idea of social media marketing that they engage in short term tactical activity while ignoring the larger strategic picture. Heavy discounts will always win customers, whatever the channel. They might be far better used to reward existing customers, rather than chasing after spurious success in social media marketing.

Measuring return on investment in social media is still tricky, Robles concedes, but social media has the potential to do more than this. ‘Marketers can, and should, set the bar higher than giving away the farm.’

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