Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"Laser like purpose" and the State Department - #SoMe and #MIPS are everywhere

Yes, I'm bumping my own post from earlier today. But the reasons are understandable.

A few hours ago, I posted my review of the Loren Feldman film "#SoMe." To put the film in context, I provided a quote from Loren Feldman's business website:

We help companies to develop sound digital strategies designed to have laser like purpose designed to reach not millions of people, but very specific people. Not just pandering to social media “fans” or “followers” who mean nothing to your business.

Now you would think that this is obvious, and that anyone spending on social media would want to see a positive return on investment. But it's all too easy to find examples of the media-induced psychosis that Larry Rosenthal is fond of discussing.

From the Washington Examiner:

State Department officials spent $630,000 to get more Facebook "likes"....

The department's Bureau of International Information Programs spent the money to increase its "likes" count between 2011 and March 2013.

Now in some respects this is understandable. Part of the job of the U.S. State Department is to represent the views of the United States to the rest of the world, so it's understandable that the department would spend something on this. But after people in the State Department itself started to complain about buying Facebook likes, an audit was conducted.

The spending increased the bureau's English-language Facebook page likes from 100,000 to more than 2 million and to 450,000 on Facebook's foreign-language pages.

Effective, right? Well, not really.

Despite the surge in likes, the IG said the effort failed to reach the bureau's target audience, which is largely older and more influential than the people liking its pages.

Of all the social media services, I instinctively believe that Facebook is the one that most closely mirrors the general population, at least in this country. The only problem is that you don't want to reach the general population - you want to reach the influcers within the population. When many people in the general U.S. population don't really know why we're celebrating a holiday tomorrow, the targeting of a general audience doesn't seem to be a very effective method. And it wasn't:

Only about 2 percent of fans actually engage with the pages by liking, sharing or commenting.

Just to illustrate how you need to find a target audience, take a look at something that Steven Streight joked on Facebook yesterday:

The Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi is being rejected by Egyptian citizens. If Morsi doesn't resign tonight, they may erupt into a civil war backed by the military. I guess he should have stayed in his band The Smiths.

When I saw this, I laughed and replied that if I see a double decker bus in Tahrir Square, I'll burst out laughing.

But I suspect that my reaction was in the minority. Some segment of Facebook's population probably believes that Egypt's leader used to be the lead singer of the Smiths, and some segment of Facebook's population has probably never heard of the Smiths, and now thinks that Will Smith is the leader of Egypt.

Hint: people who can't tell the difference between the leader of Egypt and an English (or American) musician are not the people who should be influenced on foreign policy issues.
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