Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gallup poll claims social media #fail

I’d be curious to see the latest poll on the influence of television and radio on purchase decisions, is 30% really a failure considering businesses only invested about $5.1 billion in the channel last year? The issue may not be with the channel as much as with the infrastructure needed to support accurate measurement of the effectiveness of that channel. Last year the Gallup Business Journal released a study about social media failing but also pointed out the opportunities in that space through engagement.

Now it appears in their latest Gallup Poll that they’ve decided to spin against social media. The poll results show that most people use social media to connect with people and basically use it to be “social”, which doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. What did surprise me however was that 35% of people claimed social media had some to a great deal of influence which to me signals a great opportunity still to be had in the space. Breaking it down 30% said some influence, 5% said a great deal of influence; and we won’t start talking about how some, none and a great deal aren’t the best ways to categorize influence, but I suppose Gallup knows more than I do about surveys.

In addition you can see that the influence of social media on purchasing decisions is moving steadily toward more influence in the younger generations. 43% of Millennials reported that social media had some influence on purchases and 7% said it had a great deal of influence. If the trend continues you can’t rule out social media as a failure when nearly half your audience is influenced by it. With the cord-cutting generation around the corner TV is going to see itself moving to the no influence on purchases column sooner than later unless they find a way to reinvent themselves and that may just be related to social media (see the Twitter feed streaming on your live TV broadcast later tonight).

The traditional media channels have years of experience tracking and measuring their results against the bottom line. When television was invented in 1927 they had the experience of radio advertising behind them already and it wasn’t a major disrupter at first for radio advertising. Fast forward to 1989 and the invention of the internet, this was a disruption and at first it sort of turned into a print media ad fest with banners in the style of billboards popping up all over the place disrupting your browsing experience. The big difference between the internet and other channels is that for the moment the internet is still largely an unregulated space whereas radio and television are owned media channels where you expect your listening or viewing experience to be disrupted.

The internet is a whole new space and yes it’s been around for 25 years now, but it’s still a toddler compared to radio and television. I say give social media a chance to begin measuring its impact on sales, it took a while for them to figure out ecommerce and measuring sales from website traffic, now it’s a well-oiled machine of measurement.  In fact the most accurate way to track individual customers direct impact to your bottom line is through their purchases on your website. You don’t get that with television or radio and for the moment you are not getting it from social media yet, but the potential to get there is on the horizon and in some cases already here.

Just to remind you the Gallup folks aren’t immune to sensationalizing their little surveys into headlines, just 12 years ago Gallup was questioning whether advertising is dead in a two part series and yet we’re all still here. And while they may be condemning social they currently have great things to say about mobile technology and how it is increasing it’s impact on purchases.