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The Catastrophic Social Media Content Marketing Mistake Marketers Are Making

I have been described many different ways in my life: loud, opinionated and over-caffeinated are just of the few apt descriptors for yours truly. However when it comes to the world of marketing, advertising, social media, branding and all that good stuff, I don't think many would refer to me as being hyperbolic.

I am not one prone to exaggerate; use hyperbole but I can see some people thinking that based solely on my use of the word "catastrophic" in the title of this article.

However, after what I just read that is absolutely the correct adjective to use to describe what marketers are doing when it comes to social media content marketing.

The headline and chart via says it all:

Global Marketers Say Lead Gen A Bigger Social Ad Objective Than Branding

The findings come from a new study from Econsultancy in association with Adobe and fly directly in the face of a study conducted earlier this year by Vizu which revealed that a majority of marketers and advertisers indicated their primary objective when it came to social media marketing was brand-related.

So why is this most recent finding so catastrophic?


  • It means that marketers are putting more emphasis on selling than they are at establishing relationships with consumers via branding.
  • It means that marketers would rather try and sell you something than say tell you a story.
  • It means that marketers are only in "it" to increase their bottom line.

Look, I get it re: the last bullet. This is not my first rodeo by any means. I understand making money, moving product, and on and on and on is and always be the ultimate business objective.

Consumers know that.

Don't underestimate them by any means.

But the consumer of today does not want to be inundated with sales pitches just so you can feed your lead gen beast Mr. and Mrs. Marketer. And if you don't know that  by now, you may want to consider a career change.

When I am asked for my definition of content marketing, I usually include the phrase "guns blazing" as in "you cannot go into a relationship and maintain a relationship with a consumer guns blazing. You have to engage, relate to, share relevant content with your audience and yes integrate your "guns" AKA your product, into your overall content marketing strategy."

It cannot be sell, sell, sell at every single turn.

That's an image from an article I wrote back in October of last year Dear Brands, Tell Us A Story - Love Consumers which featured the findings of a survey of 1,000 consumers over the age of 18.

As I wrote back then: "’s pretty clear that brand managers and brand marketers and marketers and advertisers of all shapes and sizes better take note that consumers want something in addition to the sales pitch."

When marketers begin to prioritize sales OVER brand-building and relationship-building and the like, that is a red flag of yes, catastrophic proportions. What these same marketers fail to realize that by building their brand via storytelling, sharing of relevant content and truly engaging with consumers will lead them to lead gen promised land they seek.

Make no mistake about it, however. Those marketers who go down the path of putting lead gen/sales over branding and relationships will not be be successful in the long run.

Sources: Google Images,

Join The Conversation

  • Chris Aarons's picture
    Sep 11 Posted 3 years ago Chris Aarons

    Steve, while I love your stuff and think you are one of the smartest guys around, this is not a black or white argument.  The point is that sales are and should be the ultimate goal of brand and relationship building.

    If you are trying to say doing a hard sell all the time is wrong, then I agree.  But, others and I do not read your article that way.

    It is marketing's job to drive sales. Brand building and relationship building are 2 of many important ways marketers can do this as buyers go through the funnel or buyer’s journey.

    Great or even good content sells by doing just that – building the brand, creating relationships and getting customers to go from conversation to commerce.  I personally have dozens of examples from my own work as well as tens of thousands of others from around the Web I can show you where brands:

    • Engaged with their markets (both B2B and B2C) with content
    • Educated, informed and drove brand perceptions without selling at all
    • All while using the content to track traffic, offer codes, leads and increased sales

    My personal favorite (this week anyway) is about the guy in Virginia who created a 30-page eBook on Pools and saw his sales skyrocket: see it here. It is well worth the read and there is little or no selling in his overall approach. 

    This is what great content marketing is: providing relevant content that gets consumers or businesses to engage, think and act to drive business goals.

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