Social Media - The Three Ages And Last Touch Thievery

Social media can be a very confusing area to measure when it comes to your overall marketing performance. I was looking into this and came across an article on this morning that I really found interesting.

The article was essentially saying that businesses who don't use social media will be left in the dark, although I was particularly interested in a few of the finer points, as follows.

Social Media - The Three Ages And Last Touch Thievery

The First Social Media Age - The Age Of Worship

According to the article I read, the first age of social media was around 2008 and was based on brand worship. For example, big brands with even larger marketing budgets used social media channels to show us all how great they were, and we duly worshipped their awesomeness.

The Second Social Media Age - The Age Of Entertainment

The second age started in around 2010 and could be called the age of entertainment, according to the piece. Essentially, this period involved the 'answering back' by consumers, who were now also using social media channels to voice their opinions on what brands were saying about themselves. This era was also around the point where consumers started demanding more content and media across various social media channels.

The Third Social Media Age - The Age Of Value Exchange

So, we are apparently in the third social media age, which can (I think) be defined as the sharing of inspiration, ideas and concepts through content and media. I guess they mean that if you can brighten up someone's day by sharing a great image on Facebook, they are more likely to warm to your brand and eventually make a purchase.

In fact, the example the article used involved using pictures of the Maldives to give Facebook fans a boost during Monday mornings. The idea is that this can help to boost brand affinity and could also start the fan on the beginnings of the buying journey.

And this is where the 'last touch' thievery comes in.

The Last Touch

The 'Last Touch' can be quite a problem when it comes to measuring the overall success of your marketing strategy. Essentially, this term refers to the fact that most analytics/reporting software will attribute the last medium used before a purchase is made as the causative source. For example, if a web users finds your site and makes a purchase after searching on Google, then Google will be credited with being the source of your sale. It was the 'last touch' made before the purchase.

-  Google search for 'red shoes'
-  User purchases 'red shoes' on your site
-  Google gets the credit for passing the customer your way

However, the problem with this is that it doesn't tell you what prompted the search to be made in the first place. Of course this could be anything, although social media is becoming increasingly influential here due to the nature of the third age social media.

-  User sees a video about 'red shoes' promoted on social media channels by another company/competitor
-  User goes to Google and searches for 'red shoes'
-  User purchased 'red shoes' on your site
-  Who is responsible for the sale? Social media or Google?

So, could it be said that Google and other search engines stealing at least some credit from social media channels for sales and conversions made? Can we call them last touch thieves? I think so

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

I think the above information is useful for your business a few solid reasons, although here is one that I think is really awesome:
It prompts us to consider why people perform a search in the first place, such as being influenced by national TV, print and YouTube campaigns
Why is this interesting? Well, although as small business owners we are unlikely to have the budget and resource available to deliver great campaigns that get people flocking to the search engines, we can use what is already being done by large brands.

For example, if we notice that there is a large awareness campaign being undertaken by larger brands that fits our business, we could work on our own digital strategy to make sure we are found when said consumers are flocking to the search engines. We might not be able to target actual brand or trademark names, although we could certainly action a PPC campaign to target the product type.

Here's an example of what I mean:

-  B&Q just aired a nationwide campaign called 'Unloved Rooms'. It was all about redecorating rooms/spaces in our houses and gardens that had seen better days
-  The campaign was aired across all of the major social media networks, as well as TV and Google etc
-  A lot of people would therefore go straight to the B7Q website, and we couldn't target B&Q or 'Unloved Room's as PPC target keywords, for example
-  However, if we sold paint/painting services/etc we can instantly set up a PPC campaign targeting phrases such as 'redecorate bedroom', for example

This means we can benefit from search spikes resulting from the Third Social Media Age, as well as other marketing channels of course. It's just an idea of how we can leverage the huge creative budgets and resources that are spent by large brands on social media content. Simply, find a large campaign that's in your industry and try to catch the resultant search traffic - simple! 

And by doing so, you might just be a last touch thief yourself :-)

Thanks for reading and you can get to the article mentioned above here.

By Alan MacDougall

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The Revenue Builder Blog is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.