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When Did Social Media Lose Its Way? [INFOGRAPHIC]

ImageEarlier this week, HubSpot introduced a new product called Social Inbox, which integrates social monitoring & content publishing with a marketer's Hubspot contact database. The concept is something that has been long desired by marketers, enabling them to replace the broader interruptive social marketing activities with a more 1-to-1 approach designed to develop individual relationships, through social channels, with partners, prospects and customers.

This is of particular personal interest to me as it's a concept featured within my book Stand Out Social Marketing. Conceptually, it will allow marketers to hypertarget conversations and activities through the social web, without getting lost in the noise and clutter of social, and aligning activities with a definitive ROI. As part of Hubspot's promotion around the new offering they published the infographic (below) which illustrates how social media - specifically for marketers - has lost its way.

Hubspot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah said in a press release, “When social media first began, we all felt a rush of excitement, because we had new and unique channels to interact with the people most important to us. Over the last five years, social media has lost its way: companies have lost sight of the “social” element and instead have focused on networks as media channels through which to broadcast mass communication. Social Inbox emphasizes people over posts, humans over handles, outcomes over activity, and ultimately, makes social media personal again, which is a win for marketers and consumers alike.”

I completely agree with Darmesh and can't wait to see Hubspot's Social Inbox in action. Social Media Infographic


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  • Jun 4 Posted 3 years ago DaveLeBlanc


    Very late post on this.  Sorry, but it's a subject near and dear to my heart.

    Someone recently said to the effect that social media is not all that social these days. That is an exaggeration, but not by much.  I have often argued that a hard sell message never works in social media. The word social ought to give everyone a clue, but I often get nothing but blank stares.   Someone else (have to start writing this stuff down) said anyone with reponsibility for sales and revenue should never be let anywhere near a decison on social media policy.  I could not agree more.  

    Social media is here to stay.  If some platforms cease being so social, users will just migrate to somewhere else.  That is irresistable. 

    My advice, relax and have fun.  It maybe the company playhouse, but psychologists all say play is healthy.  Will HubSpots new product help?  Depends on who uses it.  My guess is no and I am happy to be proved wrong. 


  • May 11 Posted 4 years ago Maisie

    I've been involved in online community since about 1998, moderating forums and chats etc. Around 2000 there was a huge boom in companies adding "community" to their websites, trying to draw people in to converse and stick around. Selling stuff to these folks was insanely difficult because they came for the community, not the products. Martha Stewart opened up her "Meeting Place" with boards and chats and a couple of years later shut down the chats. Obviously "online community" (the parent of "social media") didn't equal $$$. Then came the wave of companies who decided to take community in another direction: using it for B2B instead of focusing on giving the possible customer a place to hang out. This paved the way for Social Media, which is if you really look at it, way more media than anything social. 

    Social Media as we know it today exists for two groups:

    1) Companies or individuals who are trying to sell stuff and who are in it for the money.

    2) Average Joes and Janes who want to broadcast their every waking activity to an audience of family, friends and yes, even "fans." In essence, these are people who have found that the internet is a neat place to feel a little bit like a celebrity, and maybe, just maybe someone out there in your lists of thousands of "friends", someone actually CARES that you had tacos last night. 

    I have chosen to opt-out of Social Media for the most part. You Tube's initial purpose was to be Everyman's Broadcasting and now is completely corporate and money-driven. It's not "You" Tube anymore because it's not an alternative to every other corporate offering despite a few videos of people's kids dancing or someone's cute dog playing the piano. 

    I have left Facebook and created a mock account in a fake name (OMG) just to be able to get coupons by being extorted into pressing a "Like" button. "Likes" are a commodity even though they have absolutely no value and do not reflect whether the person or service or company is *actually* liked or if the "liker" is even a customer or ever will be. Yet in the word of "Social Networking," having a random number next to a thumbs-up gif means A LOT. (SRSLY.)

    Social Media is just another method of people trying to make money, and it's completely transparent. It's also a lovely social experiment to see how easily people will follow each other (they need not know where the path leads, nor do they even question), how when told one must "Like" something they will do so robotically, how "community" has devolved into money-grubbing, and the only "social" aspect of it all is the interaction between a customer and customer service (which is the new backbone of social media, after all.) The customer's contribution is a rant, complaint or other CS issue and the company must serve up satisfaction to retain their business. It's little more than a gigantic call center. 

    Social Media is not even interesting because really, how many people really get excited over a company taking their money, boasting about profit (which doesn't trickle down to the consumer much less the lower ranks of community i.e. moderators i.e. those actually "in the field"), and reading a blog post by a staff member who is excited about all of this only because they're paid to be? (Spread, share the excitement! Tweet and post and put it in your signatures, market for us, give us advertising in every way). Um, no. THAT isn't community. THAT isn't "social" anything. It's a one sided conversation where the company sells and the customer buys and if the customer isn't buying then they can take a leap. 

    Social Media has churned out a new generation of self absorbed sociopaths both in the corporate ranks and in the general citizenry. I'm working on phasing it out of my life (which is difficult being mired in it for so long, but I'm sure can be done.)

    The best way to "get social" is to get off the computer and go outside and talk with people one to one, create and cultivate real relationships and not be manipulated by corporate media at every turn. 

    "Social Inbox emphasizes people over posts, humans over handles, outcomes over activity, and ultimately, makes social media personal again, which is a win for marketers and consumers alike."

    Basically this says, go back to "online community" where it was about people and not as much about money. It follows with "win for marketers and consumers." Nope. Go back to 2002 or 2003 and figure out why the switch to B2B was made in the first place. That's right: online community didn't make money. Social media does. Why? Because it's ABOUT money, NOT people. That's why.

  • May 11 Posted 4 years ago PistachioLaura

    A lot of what we're seeking to do with Social Inbox is about drastically narrowing the "cast," if you will. It's about being able to find and respond to customer comments more easily and in particular being able to respond in productive, helpful ways to those who aren't customers yet but have a much higher probability of becoming so. Many of those responses will take place out of the social channel altogether because of the unique ability to integrate social monitoring and response with your core marketing database.

    The tool goes well beyond social media "marketing" and becomes a tool also used by our sales teams, product researchers, executives, and even our engineering teams, to tune in to the social media commentary uniquely relevant to them.

    Happy to answer more questions if you have them Michael.


    Laura Fitton, Evangelist, HubSpot.

  • mlewis1's picture
    May 10 Posted 4 years ago mlewis1

    Agree to disagree Michael.  Why is reducing the noise and becoming more targeted NOT a good thing?  Why does social media HAVE TO be about broadcasting?  What they are saying is that you can identify people who are more likely to hear your message through social.  I understand your point but in my opinion you may be slightly shortsighted in your assessment.  Only time will tell if this approach is successful BUT I give Hubspot kudos for this strategy. 

  • mlewis1's picture
    May 10 Posted 4 years ago mlewis1

    Means a lot Karl... Thanks!  (actually, thank the team at Hubspot for the awesome infographic)

  • Mike_Holste's picture
    May 10 Posted 4 years ago Mike_Holste

    In a lot of ways social media has become about broadcasting, but Hubspot trying to claim they have a remedy for this is absurd, and more accurately, hypocritical. They are essentially saying, "filter out the noise so that YOU can broadcast to those you want to reach without distraction." Social engagement is a critical aspect of social media, but customer service is not an umbrella. Social media marketing is marketing, not a help desk. While they are certainly times when answering questions and responding to comments is great, it is not the only goal.

  • May 10 Posted 4 years ago NickDobbs

    An excellent post Mike - thank you for sharing it.

    Hubspot's short presentation expresses absolutely perfectly at how disillusioned consumers (myself included) are becoming with the automaton approach to Social Media engagement. I have my own Consultancy dealing with some major corporates and have been looking for a Social Media product that I can recommend to clients - I'd certainly like to see a demo and talk to the guys at Hubspot.

    As an example, @virginmedia here in the UK could certainly do with taking a look at this new product because they are already heading for the Dark Side in terms of their Twitter engagement.




  • May 10 Posted 4 years ago richardbrown2000

    This is a very perceptive analysis, and I completely agree.  To be fair to businesses though, there was user demand that they got involved, particularly in responding to people posting problems with their products or services.  It was this that encouraged the shift of business engagement out of the community/PR people and into the customer service and marketing arms.

  • May 10 Posted 4 years ago Joeycoco79

    Thanks for this - excellent piece!

    I manage social media for a large business and my aim has always been to manage our Twitter account as a customer service channel with the absolute minimum of marketing tweets.

    I get pressure from a number of departments to promote their particular product through social and part of my role seems to be pushing back against this and keeping our Twitter presence as it is - a helpful and interactive channel where we talk to our customers like individuals.

    This infographic will help me to keep reinforcing why this is so important.

    Great work


  • May 10 Posted 4 years ago ragtag

    First thing on Social Media Today I can actually agree with.

  • May 9 Posted 4 years ago Maria Haase

    I can only agree with you Mike!

    We need to stop automating and faking Social Media or it will become irrelevant for everybody in the very near future. I am the owner of a Social Media consulting firm and yes, we used to do the Social Media for our clients. But this is the wrong approach and has many disadvantages, for the businesses pouring money into their SMM campaigns and also for the users and potential customers that are on these networking sites.

    Social Media is about real connections between real people and applying pushy sales techniques and spam will only hurt your business in the long run.

    We are currently restructuring our business model to offer consulting services and training only, trying to teach what Social Media really is about - one company at a time! Let's hope it's not too late!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, especially while we are taking the plunge and switching our whole business model based on our believe what's right. I really appreciate it!!!

  • May 9 Posted 4 years ago rocketgroup

    Nice job, Mike. I could not agree more. I spent more than hour yesterday with some business owners making the point that if there content was not helpful or shareable they were wasting their time. We've never seen a lot of stage 3 action here in Mid-Missouri but we do see a lot of other bad practices from local marketers which turn off audiences. We're doing all we can to educate the consumer audience on what to expect and demand from their social marketing experiences.

    Keep up the good work!


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