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Let's Stop Swooning Over Social Media

Are you overdoing it on social media? Just a little?

I'm a proponent of social media. In fact, I'm a proponent that gets paid to convince others that social media is valuable. But, like in the early days of Web design, SEO, PPC, email, and banners before it, there's too much swooning and not enough thinking about social media right now.

The good news is that social media is something special. It's not just a marketing tactic (although social media marketing can be effective). It's more of a movement. A philosophy that brings brands and customers closer together through humanization of the brand and mutual respect.

The subsidiary good news is that many companies and their agencies have changed the question in 2009 to “how do we incorporate social media?” rather than “why should we incorporate social media?”

The bad news is that many in the social media arena would lead you to believe that social media is ready for prime time and that you should forsake all other forms of marketing. That's just crazy. While consumers clearly want to engage with brands in social media, the number of social media users — while growing fast — is not yet overwhelmingly large.

If You Think You Can Use Social Media Only, You Can't

You simply cannot ignore the percentage of your customer and prospective customer base that isn't involved in social media. And it's easy to overlook them. The convenience, immediacy, and conviviality (for now) of social media gives it a strong gravitational pull. I probably spend more time on Twitter than can be justified from a business perspective, but it's so much fun and I learn so much, that it's hard to stay away.

And to some degree, full reliance on social media is a marketing cop out. This fallacy of “we'll engage with our customers and let them do our marketing for us by telling their friends” reads well in a marketing plan, but is exceptionally difficult to execute unless your brand is compelling in a way that most simply aren't.

The time will come when social media will start to take budget dollars away from entrenched marketing programs the way that banners and search have taken budget from TV. That time isn't here yet. But it's coming.

Until then, I encourage you to embrace social media, but leave one arm free to execute smart marketing programs for the 50% (or more) of the world that doesn't know Yelp from kelp.

Link to original postConvince and Convert. Social media strategy and actionable ideas from Jason Baer.

Join The Conversation

  • Jul 5 Posted 8 years ago GoutamSathia Its a nice post with few agreeable points. Social Media on the longer run both brand and consumer will sofocate, so does the space.. Social Media space is more like a classified yellow page, going ahead brand and information and network will become more private, taking social media marketing to a new dimension.
  • Jul 3 Posted 8 years ago JamesGurd Nice post and I do agree. I am equally frustrated by people whose myopic view of social media is "it's just teenagers playing around" as I am by 'experts' (I personally don't like that word) who claim that social media is where the future lies.The truth is social media simply offers another communication option to your business. The difference is that social media can enable true engagement and develop both 1-2-1 and 1-2-many conversations.I like your point about the humanisation of the brand. I think that is at the heart of social communication; people respond to people, not organisations. Finding your voice is essential and understanding how to nurture your community is more important than ever.I long for the time when the excitement of social abates to a reasoned discussion about how you can incorporate social media into your customer engagement strategy. A truly engaged company is one that communicates with its customers in the way they want, when they want and where they want.thanksjames
  • Jul 3 Posted 8 years ago AxelSchultze (not verified) You say "The time will come when social media will start to take budget dollars away from entrenched marketing programs the way that banners and search have taken budget from TV. That time isn’t here yet."

    Well it is here - if you look over the shoulders of CFOs you see it happen big time. Only a few like BMW, Virgin and a some others state it publicly but many more just did it - cut traditional ineffective marketing dollars and invest time and resources - not cash in social media.

    Marketing departments all over the map know social media is less costly and more effective. But that is only half the story - the real leverage of social media is not there yet, simply because the customers who MAY / SHOULD become advocates of a brand don't see their vendors do anything for them other than reroute the messaging from billboards to blogs.

    Hence my story on another blog today:

    "Social Media? DO NOT start in marketing"



  • Jun 29 Posted 8 years ago msatterwhite Another considered contribution Jason. I appreciate the voice of reason you are bringing to the commercial social media dialog.
  • Jun 28 Posted 8 years ago DanielYoung I agree that its short sighted to focus on SM-only marketing plans - the successful integration of old and new media should be the end game for any organisation that wants to take the lead. The old media is definitely still required to help reach the mainstream/ mass audience.

    I'd argue that the degree to which an organisation would be determined to a large extent by the brands that they 'represent' and the audience they want to reach.

  • Jun 25 Posted 8 years ago PeterLevitan Agree. A couple of points.

    Recent Citrus consumer research indicates that marketers are way ahead of the market. Yes, Facebook and, to  lesser extent, Twitter numbers look large. However, these remain marginal in terms of high-value marketing tools. Many reasons for this: just a slice of the media pie; limited marketing opportunites; low penetration; audience may not want drive-by advertising.

    Social media alone cannot deliver an audience that will move the needle in a big way -- yet.

     Finally, we are dealing with digital and traditional agencies that are looking for the next holy grail with a bit too much enthusiasm. I know agencies that preach social media simply because they cannot find another sales pitch to deliver.




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