More Evidence Why Social Media’s Value-Prop Is Overvalued

Over the weekend I’ve been struck on just how much news can be found (if one wants to truly look with inquisitive eyes) in regards to social media and it’s once unassailable value-prop. i.e., ads for eyeballs.

Of course, there was always a caveat embedded within that far too many just assumed was a given such as, where past metrics like those of direct mail models and others would apply. i.e., they would/could convert, as in: buy.

All that had to be figured out was at what metric. e.g., 1000 = 1, or 10,000 = 1, etc., etc., etc.

The issue has been that not only has this metric remained elusive. It may be a down-right fantasy. Yes: a pure, unadulterated f-a-n-t-a-s-y.

Let me explain…

As I iterated above, one of the insights into this argument came across my screens as I delved into an article on People® of all places. Where the story was about an ice-cream truck vendor in no uncertain terms castigating so-called “influencers” of social media looking for free stuff for free publicity to their “influenced” followers.

The response was not pretty. i.e., Not only would they not get anything free – they would pay double if asked!

As I said in that article: When your social “influence” can’t even get you a free ice-cream? And the ice-cream man calls you all a fraud to boot? Let’s just say “It’s different this time.”

Yet it didn’t stop there. Another aspect to place into this ever-growing hodgepodge of conflicting arguments of what is and, what isn’t, when it comes to the current status of social medias value-prop came via a very unlikely venue and figure. e.g., a CNBC™ referenced talk that featured Gary Vaynerchuk.

Here’s just one pull quote to demonstrate what I’m insinuating. To wit:

Vaynerchuk claims the roots of the problem are the illusion of success and insecurity.

“People want to be viewed as successful,” he said.

This leads young Americans to struggle with their personal finance goals, constantly spending more than what they can afford. This borderline reckless spending habit puts them in the vulnerable position of not saving enough.

What struck me about the above was this: social-media is the, and by that I mean just that – the #1 place to pose. As in: Show you are either better than everyone else, or, that you have nicer things than everyone else.

Without it – fuggetaboutit – it’s over.

After all, what is the point of any so-called “influencer” if you’re not influencing that you’ve got it – and they don’t?

Again, think this thing through with me: Who do you think is doing the majority of posting? People posting about how “fabulous” their life is even if it’s a total sham? Or: People posting about their real life, how bad it is, and how tough it is?

Want a better example? Think about it this way…

How many “followers” do you think any member of the Kardashian family would keep if they came out tomorrow posting something like “Don’t try and be like me, it’s just too hard to “keep up.”

Think about it.

I don’t think even Mr. Vaynerchuk understood the real implications of what he was professing. And that is his business, literally.

Yet, it didn’t stop there. The more I perused, the more indications that things are not all that they seem was becoming even more apparent. Again, if you want to look and actually see.

This next one comes from AdWeek™ that I read a few weeks ago, but suddenly jumped back front-of-mind. It’s about why the so-called and thought of “hot market” known as “millennials” might not have been such a “hot idea” after all. Why? Hint: they’re broke.

Here’s an excerpt from said article:

But ask Abramson how brands feel about millennial consumers these days, and the answer might surprise you.

“There was a great deal of interest [in millennials],” she said, “but there wasn’t as much due diligence around that group. We’ve generalized them as a certain type of person, [but] the reality is the rubber is meeting the road. Companies are starting to understand, ‘Wow, we’re not getting the ROI we thought we might.’”

“Why Targeting Millennial Consumers Might Not Be Such a Hot Idea After All”

Again, I ask the question: What is it worth to spend real money on social if all those so-called “potential customers” either don’t buy, won’t buy, or worse – can’t buy?

Remember: ads on social are seen as intrusive, a necessary evil to ignore as the price-to-be-paid so one can either post their “fabulous” life, or read about someone else’s “fabulous” life – for free.

Advertisers are now becoming acutely aware of this as the more “clicks” they generate just seem to generate larger and larger bills with little, if any return. Can you say: click-fraud?

Again, here’s the dirty little secret that seems to allude anyone involved in both social and the ad industry itself. i.e., What happens when companies don’t have (or drastically cut) an ad budget any longer?

Click-fraud is the scourge of the internet. The issue is there will come a point where instead of companies trying to figure out how to evade it – they’ll just no longer have the resources to even try. And that will, in turn, reduce social to has-been status. i.e., it’ll all come crashing down.

When I discuss with people anything concerning click-fraud most argue that it’s this, that, or something else when trying to measure it. I always give this example for them to “noodle” and it is here when the so-called “OMG! I didn’t think of it that way. We’ve/I’ve wasted so much time, money and effort on the wrong f’n thing!! Crap!!!” Here’s the example:

You spend on an ad campaign to sell X. Your ad is to reach 1MM potential customers eye balls. The camaign results in 500K worth of viewing clicks, which causes 100K clicks to your website or store let’s say. That results in 10K of those visitors actually going in and either subscribing to your company or email list, or created shopping carts with assorted degrees of products. Some large, some with maybe only one.

But (and here is a very big but) 99.99% of those carts were abandoned, as in never concluded into a sale. Out of all the inquiries and more you had only one, repeat, one actual sale that completed the entire process and was shipped.

So: How many customers did you really create?

Most give answers such as “Well, let’s see, 500 abandoned carts…” Or something akin to “Well, we have 5000+ new subscribers for further ads and…” Or, “let’s see, we reached 100K, plus 4500 orders but not fulfilled so if I ad, let’s see carry the one…” You get the idea. Here’s the unadulterated truth…

One. Period. (And that “one” doesn’t even cover 1% of what you spent.)

Why? Because every single other metric or result can be achieved (and is) via a bot. i.e., it was all fake.

Only a real customer can complete the transaction to fulfillment. A bot can do all the rest – but can’t (or better said won’t) check out.

Think about that very carefully.

Many a company are trying frantically to convert things like “abandoned carts” and more. And yet – don’t even take into account (let alone understand) that bots can fill carts, subscribe to your lists, fill out forms, you name it. But what they won’t do – is actually, literally: buy.

Remember: If I can get you to think about your conversion rate for “carts” you’ll forget all about all that money you’re spending to fill them. But more importantly: keep spending. Then – more than likely – spend even more to help “solve” the conversion dilemma.

Nice gig if you can get it, no?

But then again, if advertisers are beginning to take into account that even if they do reach actual “millennial” eye balls that they can’t buy either?

What good is “social” at all?

If you think that’s an over the top statement, I’ll just point to one of the most obvious that, again, no one seems aware of the timing of the obvious. Such as…

If Zuckerberg is focused on pivoting (i.e., cryptos) the giant of all social media rather, than fixing it?

Hint: AOL™

© 2019 Mark St.Cyr

Addendum: Here’s another addition to my ruminations from Sunday’s article with a story being reported this morning (Monday) via The Telegraph™ in the U.K. To wit:

“Britons abandon Facebook as usage plummets by more than a third”

The amount Brits are using Facebook has plunged by more than a third over the past 12 months, new research indicates, in sharp contrast to the company’s official statistics.

The number of online interactions made on Facebook’s mobile app in the UK plummeted by 38pc between June 2018 and June 2019, according to the analytics firm Mixpanel.

Interactions, which occur when users click on a web link or advert inside the Facebook app, declined in seven of the last 12 months, with an average monthly fall of 2.6pc. That paints a very different picture from Facebook’s own numbers, which report a slow but steady rise in monthly active users across Europe.

User numbers have traditionally been considered…

“Exclusive: Britons abandon Facebook as usage plummets by more than a third”

Again, just to reiterate, the above story just came out this morning, which is a day after my article. I point this out only so I can’t be accused of front-running it.

Also, please be aware that the rest of the story is “exclusive” meaning it resides behind a subscriber only wall. (Remember my thoughts about a growing “subscriber access only” prevalence in the future, also?)

However, I think the headline alone says all one needs to know.

© 2019 Mark St.Cyr