Marketers: Stop looking for love in all the wrong places.


MediaPost News just whipped up an article called Marketers Search For Social Media Metric.

It starts by saying:

Marketers place a lifetime value on customers with addresses on its email list based on their purchasing activity.

(Personally, I’d like to see more marketers place value on people rather than on “customers.” I’d love to see the day when marketers view the population as being real, living individuals who have more than just “purchasing activity.” It’d be great if we all woke up and realized that individuals can either help a business flourish beyond its wild expectations, or bring it crashing to its knees.)

The article goes on to say:

For Netflix, it [the lifetime value] could be $9. At US Airways, maybe $2. But how do you place a similar value on a person who is active on a company’s Facebook or MySpace page? With social-networking booming, marketers are now in hot pursuit of the metric.

Wow. This is the attitude that I pray will one day be wiped out of the current social-media era. Are we really trying so desperately to cram today’s savvy, enlightened and empowered patrons of our businesses into slick, condescending  “metrics?” Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually not opposed to the smart use of metrics. But I as a consumer get a bit insulted when I can’t fan a Facebook page without an old-school marketer being “in hot pursuit” of a metric that can value me at a measly $9.00.

HEY — pre-social-media-minded marketers: If you’re going to put a value on me, it had BETTER be higher than $9 or $90 or $9,000. Don’t you realize that my friends and I can bring your business to its knees if we lose even a little bit of interest in you? Or worse, get insulted by you?

It continues:

Identifying those pacesetters and understanding what drives them can help marketers send them more targeted messages, aiming to drive even more referrals and launch successful viral marketing.

Understanding what “drives” them? I’ll tell you what drives people in this era. It’s not your “targeted messages.” (Cluttering the world with more of those could be one of the dumbest things you could do.) What “drives” people is listening to them. Forming relationships with them. Getting to know them. Befriending them. Respecting them. Empathizing with them.

Please, please, please — save your “targeted messages” for your worst enemies. Don’t lob them at your friends.

They agree that a person who simply visits a “fan” page and is a static follower is of minimal value. But people who can be tagged as influencers, who forward information to friends or other contacts that result in transactions, have tremendous value.

In all reality, someone who “simply visits a fan page” as a “static follower” is slowly but surely forming crucial opinions about your business. Nobody “simply visits a fan page.” The second they get there, they are branding you in their mind. I’d hardly label that person as being “of minimal value.”

Email marketers are working hard on algorithms to quantify the worth of those influencers operating via social media outlets. Tim Schigel of, who spoke on a panel at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit on Wednesday, said: “We’ll see a better understanding of that (soon) … the industry is trying to figure it out.”

Amazing. Email marketers, please do us a favor. Stop staring down at your calculators, crunching your numbers and devising your algorithms once in a while. Stop trying to “quantify the worth” of “influencers” who “operate via social media outlets.” How about lifting up your heads to listen to the patrons who keep businesses alive and thriving? You might actually find it more fun to listen than to calculate. Plus, you’ll learn things that a calculator could never teach you.

Also on the panel was Craig Swerdloff, CEO of LeadSpend, who said the value of a social-media influencer should be “another variable that you put into your algorithm to determine the lifetime value of a customer.”

What is that amount? A back-of-the-envelope calculation could be as follows: If a Netflix customer is worth $9 alone, but that person has 500 Facebook friends, and is able to drive even 1% of them (5) to make a purchase, that individual’s value could be as high as $54.

As high as $54? What if a handful of a business’ customers became frustrated and decided to spread a large-scale hate fest or a boycott? Or, what if only ONE customer with lots of social media capital caused a worldwide stink about your company? And what if the damage to your business was in the millions of dollars? Would you then place an individual’s value at a mere $54?

What’s the moral of this? You can’t make friends through cold, heartless metrics.

We now have the technology to genuinely befriend people who buy our products/services. Friends help people, and they also help businesses thrive. If we can genuinely be friends with people who can either make us thrive or bring us to our knees, why would we want to risk alienating them by flinging “messages” in their face and stuffing them into boxes and metrics?


One thought on “Marketers: Stop looking for love in all the wrong places.

  1. John Rudy

    This is what separates you from many of the other “marketers” I’ve met. Well written, well said, well done and agreed! Valuing people as individuals over blind numeric metrics is why my clients keep coming back, and loving it.

    Thank you for the validation that I’m doing right by them.


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