To Me, “Does Social Sell?” Is The Same Question As “Does Advertising Sell?”

It may be a national holiday, but that’s not stopping Adweek’s Brian Morrissey from asking the hard questions in his piece published today, Does Social Sell?

While digital channels and online interactions offer a plethora of data points, they don’t come with a set playbook for assigning value. Marketers have grown comfortable with formulas like gross ratings points and frequency, time-tested formulas for building brands in traditional media. Yet with social media, what’s a Facebook friend worth?

If that Facebook friend is a brand loyalist who regularly buys the company’s product or service, then he or she is worth a lot and deserves special treatment in the way of offers and access. Bands have had these type of relationships with fans forever, but not brands. For many inside and outside the ad business, the idea that people would choose to have a fan relationship with Pepsi, Dell or H&R Block (the case studies offered up in Morrissey’s article) is strange. After all, H&R Block is not Kings of Leon.
Of course, many companies have emerged and will continue to emerge to try to answer the ROI questions. If one can prove ROI, one can make big bucks, because it’s ROI, not creativity, that chief marketing officers want. Creativity is simply the vehicle that leads to ROI Drive.
I think the thing that will continue to prove difficult is the highly personal nature of social media. A brand’s “friends” do not easily tally, because they’re all individuals. One “friend” does not equal the other. For instance, a “friend” might spend an hour a day engaged on their favorite brand’s Facebook page, while another Facebook “friend” might click “Become a Fan” before clicking away never to return.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Good stuff David, I think this debate is increasing every single day that what is it that really matters in social media is it the creation of the cult consumer or just a buyer.
    I think if brands want to create long term customers they should anyways focus on the product or the service which they offer but further on giving the consumers tools to do something extra with those products, this can enhance there user interface because they would make it friendlier themselves.