How Excel Spreadsheets and Social Media Are Similar

Social Media Sites Add Buy Now OptionIt has been over eleven years since our Marketing Stories section first posted a news item related to social media impact on marketing. That story from E-Commerce Times wondered about the future marketing opportunities social sites offered, though the only social media outlets mentioned at the time were LinkedIn and, two sites that are now gone, Friendster and Orkut. By 2009, when we first discussed social media in one of our first Marketing Blog postings, the effects social media was having on marketing was becoming a little clearer though there were still many who wondered whether Facebook, Twitter, and other sites would ever grow to become the power players they are now.

One of the problems in seeing the future of social media back then is that, from a marketing perspective, social media does not fall easily into just one Marketing category. Instead, it offers benefits across many marketing areas including customer service, public relations, advertising, sales promotion, marketing research, and the list goes on.

Because of the benefits it offers marketers, social media is akin, to say, using Excel. How? Well, spreadsheet calculations help marketers with many marketing decisions, from defining markets to estimating product demand to assessing the best price to charge and many more. Social media is also quickly becoming a tool for nearly all marketing areas. Of course, the big difference is that customers do not interact with a marketer’s spreadsheets, while interaction is required for social media to be effective. But just as all marketers need to be skilled in using spreadsheets, the day is quickly coming when those involved in research or product development or promotion or distribution or pricing or customer service or most other marketing tasks will need to be well-schooled in using social media.

And just to drive this point home a little more, the influence of social media continues to expand, as companies are finding new ways to obtain value. As discussed in this Re/code story, the leading social media sites are actively moving to offering social “Buy Now” buttons in an effort to expand retail sales. These buttons would not only be tied to sponsor-supported promotional postings, but may also be displayed when someone comments favorably about a product or service. While the story notes there are still challenges ahead before “social commerce” can take hold, given how social media has overcome naysayers in the past, don’t be surprised if social “Buy Now” buttons are the next big thing.

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