What do we really know about Social Media?

Do you remember when social media started reaching into the workplace? I distinctly recall the day my boss said to me “I’ve been told we need to get on social media. Find me a Gen Y marketing student to do the job”, and the characteristics he was looking for in a candidate were literally “tech-savvy” (read: can use a smartphone), “knows about social media” (read: is a consumer, or is a 1st Year Marketing Student), and is Gen Y (read: cheap, and impulsive, goes with gut feeling).

While it’s true this candidate would probably have done a better job than the boss…can we really say that they would do a good job? At that point, did we even know what a ‘good job’ looked like in the world of social media?


Social Media can be defined loosely as the interaction and connection of individuals using online software and technology, and can be seen in many forms; from Facebook, to LinkedIn, to YouTube and blogs.

Customers have become participants in a dialogue with marketers and brands (Iacobucci, 2014), they have become co-contributors to product development, and consumers are inadvertently providing free advertising through Word of Mouth. Genuine Word of Mouth, which consumers are likely to believe on face-value, contrary to an advertisement for the same piece of information, is a key strength of social media involvement.

So in short, social media is great! It’s obvious when social media goes wrong (here’s just a few from 2015), but how do we know when it’s going well?

Barger and Labrecque (2013) devised some key metrics to identify performance on social media, which cover consumer engagement, brand advocacy, and even share of voice in the brand category.Table 1.PNG

Despite the great data that can be extracted from these metrics, there are still key questions left unanswered.

How do you measure the impact of social media on purchase? If I decide to purchase in-store as a result of social media, how is that captured? If I click a ‘Buy now” link on a diet program, but the reason I decided to do so was because my friend has been posting about her success with the product for weeks on Instagram… how does the company know?

The problem with Social Media is that its still a new space. We know the ins and outs of tv and radio advertising, and the overall internet marketing space is fairly strong with some truly interesting insights and capabilities. But we really don’t know much about Social Media; the best ways to extract value; how it integrates with all the other marketing platforms; if we are supposed to duplicate posts between social platforms on do something unique to each (Barger and Labrecque, 2013).

So there is still a ways to go to develop an integrated marketing communication strategy that truly encompasses and captures all of the available data, but it is likely that we will need to wait for technology to catch up and provide a solution which captures offline data, and can generate real insights into the effect of different social media strategies across industry.


Author: paijeterrell; Student ID: 900192578; pterrell@deakin.edu.au

Reference List:

Bandt, 2015, When Authenticity And Advertising Collide On Social Media, Retrieved 09 May 2016, <http://www.bandt.com.au/marketing/when-authenticity-and-advertising-collide-on-social-media&gt;.

Barger, A & Labrrecque, L 2013, ‘An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective on Social Media Metrics’, International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, Spring2013, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p64-76.

Croud, 2015, Top 5 Austalian Social media Fails, Retrieved 09 May 2016, <http://croud.com.au/blog/2015/09/top-5-australian-social-media-fails-2015so-far/&gt;.

Iacobucci, D 2014, ‘Chapter 13, Social Media’ Marketing Management (MM), 4th Edition, Cengage Learning, Mason.



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