Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

Some interesting results came out of a poll by the Gallup folks the other day. They polled American consumers about the influence social media has on their purchasing decisions.   I guess if you hold stock in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other public social media company, you’re not a huge fan of the results:

Gallup says 62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says “consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.”

That’s from the Wall St, Journal report on the study.  Oops?  Is all the time, money, and effort companies are throwing at social media just a massive barking up the wrong tree?  Not really.  In fact, I find that pretty encouraging since it might just get marketers focused on the real role of social as opposed to gross follower counts.  In fact:

“Gallup research shows that consumers are much more likely to turn to friends, family members, and experts when seeking advice about companies, brands, products, or services. Company-sponsored Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have almost no persuasive power.”

I’m sure that’s what the data said.  It’s throwing the baby out with the bath water, however.  Monitoring what and how consumers are talking about with respect to your brand is invaluable.  Giving them the opportunity to reach you directly can’t be a bad thing, can it?  Sure – if social is just a place to broadcast more brand news, sale information, or videos of your TV ads, you’re probably missing the boat.  Analyzing social-media conversations to see what consumers like and don’t like is smart.  Actually, it’s kind of mandatory.

Once again, a focus on the tools (social media) instead of the business is what barking up the wrong tree really means.  Using the social channel to gather information and take action where appropriate is smart business.  You with me?

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