It's getting ugly out there. Brands and fellow agencies will often ask me the same question: how often should we be on _____________ (insert your favorite social media channel here)? In the past, research be damned, my response would typically be: so long as it's quality and your audience cares, shares and keeps on about it, don't listen to the research reports or what any pundit has to tell you. The unique pulse between and a brand and its consumers is highly personal and unique on a case-by-case basis.
I may be wrong.
This morning, I was reading the Marketing Charts news item, Majority of Top Brands Tweeting At Least 30 Times Per Week, which offered up these interesting pieces of data:
Has anyone spent any time speaking to a consumer?
Do me a favor. Stop reading this blog post. Set your timer for 60 seconds and start listing off all of the brands in your life that you would like to hear from about 30 times a week on Twitter. I'll wait....
...And, we're back!
So, how does your list look? Now, before you think about the answer, please remember that if you're reading this, you're already a convert. You're already (somewhat) in love with marketing. You're interested in how brands are doing what they do. You believe that new and amazing channels offer up all kinds of opportunities for brands to better engage with their consumers. All of this is true. But, what about the average consumer? These people are connected to but a few people. Some of them are acquaintances, while some of them are celebrities. Are brands that interesting? What brand does a consumer really need to hear from on Twitter (or see in their feed) upwards of 30 times per week?
The advertising mindset flaw.
One of advertising strongest metrics is frequency and/or repetition. We bring that same traditional advertising ethos to social media, where the distribution is free (or, somewhat free) and this is what happens. Brands go crazy. So yes, consumers will experience fatigue and brands will react as they always have: with more. They did it with their TV spots, they did it with email blasts and they're doing it in social media. The problem with social media and scale in social media marketing is that frequency and repetition does not equal quality. It becomes noise, no matter how high the level of quality.
What makes this worse.
There's also something bigger and scarier happening here. In this instance, we're just taking about Twitter. What about Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, podcasts and beyond? If brands are pumping 30 tweets into the system at a consumer just on Twitter, what do you think their cumulative content push is like when you bring all of the social media channels together? I'm an unabashed fan of social media marketing and the ability for brands to have these amazing direct relationships with consumers, but it is data points like this one from Marketing Charts that makes me wonder how sustainable this model is in a world where these channels are so personal. It just doesn't make sense. No matter how much love an individual has for a brand, these numbers feel alarmingly large.
Even if the 30 tweets are quality, at what point does the quality not matter because of the sheer volume of output?Tweet
Channeling the old SNL parody of the McLaughlin Group: "WRONG!! The answer is FOUR! Next issue ..." Reminds me of the "metaphysical certitude" with which some experts dispense rules for number of tweets, frequency of emails and blog posts, time of day they're posted, etc.Reply
220 times/wk = 30+ times/day on average. Wow - that's a lot! Seems like way too much. But 30 times/week - I think that's probably not enough. Why? Assuming tweets are of good quality, the metric we should take into account is: What percentage of anyone's tweets does the average Twitter user actually see? 10%? 35%? As an example, I'm glad that @TheAtlantic tweets the same article multiple times. It makes me less likely to miss them.Reply
Nick.... this was my initial thought exactly! But then diving deeper, is that 30 times/week just gradually going to go up because every other brand is doing 30 times/week and the noise is constantly increasing all while trying to sustain the same reach? At what point is the content bubble going to pop in trying to reach the masses, or, at what point aren't we so concerned about increasing reach and the total number of followers (and likes) and constantly pushing but more in tune with niche communities, more tightly woven and deeper connections providing highly relevant content? It will be interesting to see how the social channels and it's communities evolve. Will the focus be on scale or will it be more focused and relevant.Reply
You can stop wondering Mitch. It's not sustainable. And that mindless behavior will do to social media what it did to advertising: http://bit.ly/9o2BINReply
Nailed it, Mitch.
Marketers should be deeply concerned about producing quality over quantity... because our customers and prospects are fighting back with media curation tools such as Flipboard, Pinterest and Tumblr, which they use to filter-out the noise from their various social and media streams. These platforms are growing quite a bit faster than the social networks they depend upon for content.
We addressed the "curation-vs-noise" issue in detail a few months ago on our company blog: http://www.needtagger.com/the-flipboard-effect-what-if-they-never-see-our-content/Reply