Numerical Blindness

Whenever anyone says that a business or brand MUST do social media, I cringe, I wince, I reach for a cocktail. Then I shake my head and think.. follow the money.

Numbers, meet Perspective:

YouTube has millions of people who like funny cat videos and other people like to mock them with hilarious, f-bombing NSFW cat videos.

Translation: There are years worth of content uploaded every day, meaning there’s no way for people to see even a fraction of it. For every commenter on YouTube there are BILLIONS who are not registered, don’t share and never comment.

Google Plus is growing like gangbusters, hit a record 25 million in no time flat, will probably exceed 30 or 40 million users by the time I hit publish.

Thusly: By the time you read this, there could be 50 million users and therefore, about 6.3 BILLION non-users outside the Circle.

Twitter has some 200 million+ registered users, depending on what the searches say.

Ergo: Roughly 6.5 BILLION people do not care. It’s used mostly by spammers, brands, bloggers, my cool TV-loving peeps, obnoxious fame-whoring celebs and per Gini Dietrich, PR and marketing types talking to each other. Any clever Twitter infographic will point out that most people don’t get follows, clicks, RTs or anything approaching ‘influence.’

Facebook would be the 3rd largest country in the world, with 700+ million users.

Reality check: There are about 6 BILLION people NOT on Facebook. Of those that are of the legal age and are on FB, I suspect the majority are playing Farmville, uploading baby pics and ignoring your marketing efforts, so it’s not time to surrender just yet.

Do you know IF your audience is social?

I’m not lobbying against social media marketing, far from it. Just needs to be done correctly.

I have more friends, know more ‘regular’ people not in social – not on Twitter or even Facebook – than I know who a1re on. They’ve barely heard of Google+ and only pay attention to YouTube videos for kicks.

The ones that are ‘social’ have Facebook and banner ad blindness. You’re rarely going to reach them ‘socially’ with your marketing, save for a well-written content driven blog post that answers their specific question on how to find a deal at the store, which dishwasher is worth the money, etc.

Do you know WHERE your customers are social?

Why do you ‘need’ an iPhone or iPad app? Not because everyone has one; with ‘only’ 130 million iPhones and 30 million iPads sold to date, roughly MOST of the planet does not have one.

The reason you market to iOS users is your research shows you they are YOUR audience, they’re the ones likely to have the income, interest and inclination to buy your product or service. So what if mobile users make up only 33% of your web traffic; it’s their percentage of conversion and sales that matters.

Fish where they are biting.

Don’t be blinded by the statistics and big numbers, and jump into social media because you ‘have’ to; if your customers are biting there, bait your hook. If not, follow the money to your own ‘Safari-using, mobile-gaming, iOS-wielding, Twitter-updating, high-income’ shopper waters.

“We’re not normal people,” quipped Mike Leszinski during a soloPR chat. Social users are a strong demographic of biting fish. The question you need to answer for your small business is: Are they YOUR fish?

Thoughts, quips, nits to pick? Please share.

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14 thoughts on “Numerical Blindness

  1. Davina, this reminds me of a blog post I wrote a long time ago titled “Businesses That Might NOT Belong in Social Media.” Mark Schaefer started it on his own blog post “Three new social media myths that MUST STOP NOW” with these gems:

    1) If you’re selling Depends adult diapers, you should probably spend most of your marketing dollars elsewhere.

    2) If you’re in a down and dirty business like buying and re-selling scrap metal, neither suppliers nor customers typically even have computers.

    The truth is, if your audience ain’t there, you’re wasting a lot of time. An audience to consider, though, are referrers. We get a lot of our WordPress design projects through friends and colleagues using social media. We even stopped making sales calls ourselves because of referrals, and never expected that when we started out.

    Michelle Quillin – New England Multimedia recently posted..Buying Twitter Followers and Facebook Fans

    1. Referrals and secondary audiences are big for some of my clients Michelle, I work so hard to try and get them to focus on the right groups that really help them grow their business. I know it’s true for me too. Mark’s examples remind me of SuperBowl ads; unless it’s cars, snacks, beer, and toilet paper – stuff almost every human on the planet could buy/use – it’s probably not worth the time and money. Same w/ social; yes it works, but be very cautious about the hype and do your homework.

      BTW I may have a WP question for you, as I’m working on some theme modifications myself.. will let you know. Thanks for sharing, now to check Mark’s post. ***Edited to add (ETA): Ha! I read and commented on that post last year.. time flies. 🙂

      1. Looking forward to helping you, Davina!

        I have a tendency to love relationships and people so much, I lose my way in social media and forget I’m here for a purpose when it comes to business. Then I have to revisit my goals, and start building and nurturing relationships with people who are either in our primary or secondary audiences. It’s not easy to stay focused, at least for me. Always working that out, trying new schedules, and realigning my goals with my activities online.

        It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, though. We’re blessed to have come of age at such a time as this!
        Michelle Quillin – New England Multimedia recently posted..Buying Twitter Followers and Facebook Fans

        1. I totally am working on my online goals – which is why my “Hire Me” post ran today, to remind folks that I’m out here for business. This is a lot of fun too.. sending you an email about WP.

  2. I feel strongly both ways………yes, there are many more not using than are; but those are still pretty strong numbers that are. One of the questions to ask is how do I want it to work for me and at the end of the day the ONLY measurement that matters is ‘how much money did I make’? I’m pretty sure it’s not going away so there has to be some way to harness it for beneficial use, right?

    I think the main thing is know your direction and have realistic expectations.

    Thanks for sharing ma’am; hope all is well.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..The Big Hairy Experiment

    1. Thanks Bill, gotta keep it real. Nothing fixes a bad product, few campaigns really make up for shoddy service. Have realistic, practical goals to go with the date.

      I like how numbers paint different pictures. For example, I notice web browser usage on the demographic profiles for social and tech sites.. everything from mobile (Safari) to Firefox, Chrome and Safari not just gaining on IE, but actually having more market share in some cases. I know many users who stick w/ out-of-the-box IE, but IMO it’s the ones who opt for a different web experience.. those are the ones a lot of businesses would consider to be biting fish. FWIW.

  3. I’ve definitely heard corporate marketing management say things like “We need to be on Facebook and Twitter!” without knowing if their customers even use those platforms. I think some companies jump ahead when they should be doing other things. For example, more companies should focus on optimizing their content and communications for mobile devices before they even consider social media. Being a lemming isn’t the best marketing strategy, is it?
    Marianne Worley recently posted..Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

    1. It’s an expectations thing .. we expect big brands to have websites, 800 numbers.. and now, FB and Twitter. I get that Marianne and I’m not against social media, mobile or other forms of marketing.. but not at the expense of what works, ignoring platforms and options that may be better. Agree with you on mobile Marianne.. in the future. Right now it’s what, maybe 40% have smart phones with SOME web capabilities? So if that’s your audience and you can deliver what they need, go for it. I think the moves that Apple and Google are making to the Cloud … that will have a big impact; as tablets and smartphones not only become more popular, but in some households, replace the PC. We’ll see.

      1. It all comes down to knowing your audience and delivering information to the devices and platforms they use. My small business clients aren’t using social media to market their services (yet), but they are still having a lot of success.
        Marianne Worley recently posted..Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

        1. Which contradicts some of the stories; it’s why we need successful examples… so I hope you share some of your insider secrets, will be nice to steal the good ideas. 😉

  4. From a strictly SEO standpoint, social media is going to become increasingly important even for the non-social markets as indicators are all pointing to the inevitable personalization of the web based loosely around the same old same old (link building) and social clusters that would be your social network.

    From a PR standpoint for a small business trying to muscle its way into an online market, this would mean that networking and devising strategies to get your customers to edge you up to their network by sharing your website across social channels (that aren’t just exclusively the typical social networks but review websites, etc.) could be the SEO of the future.

    This isn’t for overt sales, mind you, but for ranking in search based on reviews of those within social circles (if you are searching for a car stereo and a “friend” shared a website that has car stereo reviews, will you be more apt to look there?…even if that website was ranked third in the search engines?…what if 3 friends recommended it?)

    After reading ZMOT (an ebook written by someone in Google), I can clearly see that the direction of search is on a collision course with social networks….and oddly enough, it makes sense.
    Leo Dimilo recently posted..Winning the Moment of Zero- New Free eBook from Google

    1. Think it was a Peter Shankman post that I read, that said essentially — if you’re not considering search, you’re not marketing. So yes SEO is now and will become even more critical and you’re so right Leo.. PR and social media integration will be a big part of that. The type of search you mentioned.. Sean McGinnis shared this good TED talk w/ me – – that discusses how our searches already differ b/c of the customizations that you describe. I think has some strengths and some pretty scary weaknesses. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Hi Davina,

    I certainly don’t need to jump into social media and my clients are not asking for it, that’s for sure, but that day is quickly approaching. That being said I don’t want to venture into this crazy social media realm to expand my business, … I’m really thinking more of Transitioning My Business … based on the freedom or flexibility being immersed in social media might offer. So I guess I’m looking for an audience that IS social vs. the old models that aren’t, and I’m learning more day by day from fine people like you, Davina, just what might be possible.

    I don’t need to DO social, but I want to for a variety of reasons. It’s pretty damned exciting and there just might be a little more flexibility in my (wish, wish) slightly different business model down the road.

    1. Transitioning and integration, that’s what attracted me to ‘doing’ social media. I wanted to add that club to my bag since it really was a natural extension of what I was already doing as a solo PR. As you are correct Craig.. a lot of things are possible and I’ve learned quite a bit being social.. keep saying it has made me better at my job b/c it’s true.

      That said, social isn’t a magic bullet or the cure-all elixir; it can be a valuable component of a marketing and communicating, of business… done the right way, the right places, for the right reasons. Vanity numbers and buzz aren’t enough. FWIW.

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