Social Media needs leadership

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As an undergraduate student at the Cronkite School, I get an opportunity to learn about a variety of subjects. Today, in my Sports Marketing and Campaign class (it’s actually very minimally related to sports) we learned about the effectiveness of advertising across a variety of mediums.

The first thing made clear was that television was still the king for advertising. Our teacher, who’s also the VP of Marketing for LifeLock – an identity theft protection agency based in Tempe – said the company is contemplating whether or not they want to do a Super Bowl advertisement. The price? $3.5 million dollars.

Super Bowl advertisement

Our professor went on to look at other mediums and their ad share, including the Internet, tablets, mobile, etc. Later in the lecture, I learned that 51% of television users had an advertisement directly affect a decision they made about buying a product. After switching gears, he offered a more staggering statistic as it pertains specifically to social media: Only 6.8% of social media users saw the same effect, some 45 percentage points lower than its television counterpart.

This could be viewed in a couple lights. First, as a journalist, anything PR related is usually shunned from conversation; those ‘spin doctors’ aren’t worth our time. But in a practical application, journalists are [hopefully] trying to have a similar impact on their readers – what better impact than convincing them to buy your product?

Who will fully understand everything on the 'bandwagon'?

Second, and more importantly, is the fact that the media in general needs leadership in social media. To me, today’s versions of social media ‘experts’ are simply those people that know how to consistently update content on a social media site. And, to be honest, I wish I didn’t have to be so negative on this issue. Unfortunately, based on the above statistics, that’s the reality.

Which brings to me about my final point in leadership: it’s my generation that needs to lead us into the frontier of social media success. Hundreds of millions of people hold accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., and though no one knows how to monetize it quite yet, it is my youthful generation that needs to be business savvy to figure it out.

It isn’t enough to be a journalist or a PR firm and just update your social media on a daily basis. If it were, Facebook advertising would be $3.5 million an ad like the Super Bowl. I sincerely hope that leaders emerge in this field, because without them, the best media content may struggle to remain sustainable.

4 Comments on “Social Media needs leadership”

  1. I always heard that social media advertising was significantly lower than more traditional forms of advertising, like TV. I agree that it is in our generation’s hands to figure out the cost benefit(s) of using social media as a way to advertise our personal brands as journalists and products, since most people do spend an inordinate amount of time online anyway.

  2. I didn´t know the impact of social media was this low, but I didn´t expect it to be very significant either.

    Even though I am in the Cronkite School studying PR I am only a light social media user. I get the whole personal branding thing, but I always wonder, who actually cares what I tweet about.
    I guess the answer is not really anybody. If social media ¨experts¨are getting such small results, I can´t really expect my tweets to make much of an impact on anybody other than my own friends.

    It is such a cool medium though, and I agree, with some real leadership maybe, one day, my tweets will have some sort of effect.

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