Marketing By Numbers

Step number one: sign up to social media site. Done. Step number two: create unique, yet appropriately catchy business handle that aptly coincides with my company. Yep – got it. Step number three: add appropriate social buttons to blog, website, other social sites, email and any other available area. I’m so on that. Step number four: bribe, harass, persuade and otherwise entice people to share, follow and fan. Social media engagement accomplished.

(crickets chirp into the vast, endless silence of social engagement fail)

Marketing By the Numbers: Statistical Failures

Numbers. Data. Statistics. For many CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and other upper echelons of business – not to mention the entire middle management sector – numbers mean things. Which numbers mean what things is open to interpretation, depending on the person. Two plus two, for example, could equal a whole bunch of fours or a plummeting bottom line.

Here’s the thing about numbers and statistics. A lot of it is guesswork. Let’s look at these statistics, torn from the creative graphic imagery of Wildfire Apps. In a survey of 700 marketers:

  • 97% believe social media marketing benefits their business (note how, in the numbers below, it adds up to way more than 100%? This was a multiple choice question, ya’ll):
    • 88% by growing brand awareness
    • 85% by engaging in dialogue
    • 58% by increase sales and partnerships
    • 41% by reducing costs
  • 94% use Facebook for:
    • New customer recruitment (44%)
    • Higher conversion rates (18%)
    • More frequent purchases (18%)

These are mighty impressive numbers, right? Right. Because, like, 700 marketers out of 878,000+ marketers on LinkedIn, for example, will give an adequate representation of how the whole marketing world looks at things, yes? Yes – because that’s how statistics work.

So many people

Statistics follow this sort of roundabout logic. Survey says 97% of 700 marketers, or 679, think SMM has business benefits. Therefore, “97% of marketers believe in the business benefits of SMM.” In other words, when this survey is quoted, those quoting leave out “of 700 marketers” and use a blanket statement.

That’s a big leap when you’re reading statistics to decide what to do with your business. I’m not so sure I’d want to base my entire marketing decisions on leaps like this. I think, in fact, that I’d want to look at other numbers.

Adding the Right Numbers Together

Marketing by the numbers isn’t wrong, but you have to make sure they’re the right numbers. While statistical averages and percentages may be a shot in the dark, actual data isn’t. The 2011 Internet data provided by Pingdom in January 2012, for instance:

  • 300 million websites were added to the Internet in 2011
  • There are 2.1 billion internet users worldwide and over 800 million of them are on Facebook
  • There are 100 million active Twitter users, and 18.1 million of them follow Lady Gaga
  • There are 1.2 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions.
  • If the number of YouTube video playbacks were equally divided among the earth’s population, we’d each playback 140 videos.

Marketing Diva – Lady Gaga

In other words, a whole bunch of people are on Facebook and Twitter, Lady Gaga knows some things about marketing that any marketer would give their right arm to understand, a lot of people are mobile and YouTube is hot.

Your Brand Is Calling You

What are you doing about it? -And whatever you’re doing, are your efforts “brand friendly”? While you’re chasing after wispy statistical information, are you making sure your current activities are branded? Yes? Wonderful! Are you sure?

I’d like you to do this exercise for me:

  1. Go to your website.
  2. Find your Twitter button.
  3. Share a post with the Twitter button.
  4. Visit your Twitter timeline and view your recent post.

First, could you find your Twitter button easily? Would anybody else be able to if they didn’t know where it was? Wonderful. Now, what does your recent post look like? Does it:

  • Have your user name (RT @level343) or does it say:
    • Via @sharethis
    • Via @addthis
    • Via @wordpress
  • Include hashtags for easy search, find and brand discovery?
  • Include a logo or “face” of the company?

If you can say yes to these, excellent! Now what about your other social networks? After all, you’ve spent all that time tracking down the statistics to tell you that social networking is important, so you probably have a few. What do they look like?

Your Brand Matters

  • Logo across all networks
  • Brand colors when possible
  • Connected to other networks when possible
  • Visible from your site or blog
  • Human generated content (rather than obviously bot generated)
  • Filled out profiles when possible

With each and everything you do online, whether it’s on your website, a social network, a guest blog or any other place, you need to keep your brand in mind. Follow the bullet points and check your social networks. Check your business profiles, author bios, business accounts and everything else you can think of.

When you’re looking at the Internet as a way to grow your business, you can’t afford to follow statistics only. Use them as a guide, but then take the time to test. What will do your business good – more so than any statistic and number – is making sure every endeavor has the highest possibility of return: if not in business sales, in authority and publicity.