Social media: a stroll in the park?

Here’s a comment that has attracted a bit of attention. It comes from Jordan Rohan, a digital media consultant speaking at this week’s OMMA social media conference in New York.

Jordan was complaining that social media marketing doesn’t automatically lead to sales. It’s like Manhattan’s Central Park, where people go to chill out, watch other people and hang out with friends and family, but not to shop. So apart from a few food vendors there’s not much sales action going on there. On the other hand the real estate around the park is worth an awful lot. Ditto with social media: not many businesses make money from campaigns on Twitter and Facebook, but they should pay attention to the real estate prices. “We will eventually figure out how to harvest all this, but it’s difficult to make money in Central Park,” Rohan says.

It’s a nice image, but it seems a mite misleading to me. Advertising campaigns need to impact on the bottom line, but they are also about raising brand awareness and gaining consumers’ trust. Social networking sites are where a lot of consumers are to be found these days, and brands have to be there too if they want to be noticed and keep a high profile. It’s as simple as that.

In a way, Jordan’s comment makes more sense as a criticism of brand awareness campaigns as opposed to product advertising, which is a whole other story.

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