Why Social Media Marketing is a Bust for Most Companies

Chris Horton
Chris Horton Digital Strategist, Synecore

Posted on April 13th 2012

Why Social Media Marketing is a Bust for Most Companies

Social media is playing an increasingly vital role in business marketing. Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized businesses (and a few large corporations) are not getting nearly as much out of their social media marketing efforts as they should be. In short, social media is proving to be a bust.

Broadly speaking, many companies are failing to convert on social media because of they are not using it to build brand advocacy, drive web traffic, and generate leads.


Loyalty and trust play a big part in social media success. Businesses should use social media to build brand advocates.  Social media marketing gives companies exponential reach, empowering brands to leverage their content and messaging more efficiently than other marketing channels.

The Internet rewards reach. The more social media followers you have, the more your content spreads, and the more impact you have on results in search engines, but many of them might be able to share content or take an action online that could refer a customer.¹

Social Media Examiner’s recent survey of social media marketers found 85% indicating that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses.²

Many companies are under-utilizing the potential reach of their social media. They should be promoting their social media channels as aggressively as possible. They can do so by optimizing each page to speak their company’s target audience, sharing valuable content their audience finds useful, adding social share buttons on their website, blog, and all offline marketing pieces, emailing existing customers to encourage them to interact with their social media, and interacting with fans and followers.


Social media is the new promotion. Companies that do not integrate their website and social media are blowing a huge opportunity to drive web traffic. Increasing web traffic was the second major benefit of social media, according to social media marketers polled in SM Examiner’s study.

Social media channels can be used to bring relevant visitors to your website - visitors who will convert into customers. In fact, that same study noted that 74% of marketers interviewed found a substantial increase in website traffic with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing. ²

Prospects who have enjoyed what you have to offer on social media can be encouraged to share their experiences with friends via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest etc.  This will increase web traffic and bring more relevant visitors to your website. In this way, social media acts as a referral service for your business.

Businesses should also integrate their social media marketing efforts with their website marketing and existing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Integrate your website content campaigns with your social media by offering web content on social media and using the same SEO keyword list to optimize its performance across all channels. Doing this will help ensure your SEO, website content, blogging, and social media efforts are all working in concert.


The best source of a website lead is a recently-satisfied convert from one of your social media channels. Looking at data from 2011, inbound marketing experts Hubspot did a study of 3,000+ B2B businesses to understand how their companies were succeeding with social media. The data revealed that 63% of B2B businesses were not generating leads from social media. While these companies were generating traffic from social media channels, they were not converting that traffic into leads for their businesses.³

The main culprit was a lack of calls-to-action (CTAs) and landing pages. In other words, companies were not providing prospects a clear path to deeper engagement. This can be easily remedied by placing CTAs on every piece of content you publish on social channels. These CTAs should be linked to landing pages with forms to collect new leads. Each offer should have its own unique CTA and landing page that is promoting a specific offer such as an ebook, free consultation, demo, webinar, etc.

When it comes to marketing, social media is about lead generation. Building communities online and educating leads is important, but if you don't present lead conversion opportunities, you will never generate the revenue needed to fund your social media marketing efforts.³

Many companies still in the early stages of implementing social media don’t have a clear understanding of how to take advantage of its many benefits. Many have set up their Facebook Timeline or LinkedIn Company Page, and done little else.

If this is true for your company, you are not using social media to effectively promote your brand, drive web traffic, and generate leads online. By following this simple advice, you can quickly remedy the problem and start getting more out of your social media efforts.


Are you incorporating social media into your marketing efforts? If so, how?


¹ Hubspot, “Nine Common and Costly B2B Social Media Marketing Mistakes”

² Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

³ Hubspot, “63% of B2B Companies Don't Generate Leads From Social Media”

Chris Horton

Chris Horton

Digital Strategist, Synecore

Chris Horton is a content creator and digital strategist for Minneapolis-based integrated digital marketing agency, Synecore. An avid tech enthusiast, Chris has written extensively on a number of topics relevant to the growing marketing technology industry, including SEO, inbound, content, social, mobile, email marketing, apps, online branding/PR, and Internet trends. Chris' marketing tips can be found on Synecore's Marketing Technology for Growth blog. You can connect with Chris on TwitterLinkedIn, or Google Plus, or email him at [email protected]. Check out his new book, Digital Marketing: Integrating Strategy and Tactics with Values, published by Routledge in October of 2014.

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Brian Town
Posted on April 13th 2012 at 6:22PM

This is a great article. I think most companies, at the very least, need to hire someone to make sure they are running their social media the right way. Thanks!

Brian Town



Chris Horton
Posted on April 15th 2012 at 11:02AM


I couldn't agree more! Thanks for the support...

Posted on April 13th 2012 at 6:57PM

Wonderful article! You touch on a lot of points that sometimes get overlooked. It is one thing to be proficinet in Social Media, to be a guru or expert, but to convert traffic into sales takes real expertise. Satisfying both your client and your own creative drive can be a task in itself, but you should always remind yourself that connections are not worth anything until those said connections actually buy something.


Chris Horton
Posted on April 14th 2012 at 7:17AM

Thanks for the props!

I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. I think social media for business is still largely in the "how" phase of development. Many business executives and marketers are furiously scrambling to figure out how each major social media site works, forgetting why they should be using social media in the first place- to accomplish their business goals. This is a common human approach to a knew concept or phenomenon: we first identify what it is and how it works before analyzing why we need it or whether or not it is useful for us. 



Posted on April 13th 2012 at 8:09PM

A lot of the pitfalls in social media for small to medium businesses can be narrowed to misunderstanding as a method of communication. There is a set and forget mentality - build it, and they will come!

Managing social networks is far more intense than managing a website. Social media marketing requires consistent commitment, energy, dedication and execution, which many businesses say they are too busy for... then blame the method.

Many of the points you mentioned are also valid, particularly poor call to actions and landing pages. Making minor adjustments to these will give businesses a better chance of conversion, but rather than adapt, they give up and say it doesn't work.

I have witnessed several small business owners who have successfully used social media as their main marketing channel, purely from commiting themselves to connecting with their consumers and suppliers- some didn't even have a website built when they started!

Yes social media can be a bust, but then you change your strategy - and start again.

Chris Horton
Posted on April 15th 2012 at 11:01AM

You make a great point when you say that many businesses give up and blame social media rather than applying the same practices they likely use in other aspects of their business, i.e. adjustment and adaptation.

Such reactions suggest that these companies see social media as a trend rather than an integral part of their business. In other words, they have not yet legitimized social media in their own minds. This is short-sided and dangerous, especially when you factor in the purchasing power of the Millennial generation, and their dependence on user-generated content largely derived from social media for purchase decision. 

Posted on April 16th 2012 at 9:14AM

Agree. To echo MXYZ_  SM is not effective (as we say in the military) as a "fire and forget" asset- to drive outcomes it requires a commitment of time.

And, like Chris pointed out a CTA is always a good idea... That being said, I'm available: http://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewjleonard

Thanks Social Media Today for providing the platform for relevant discourse!



Posted on April 16th 2012 at 8:57AM

Great article Chris. The Call To Action piece is critical, because it shows a clear next step for interesting visitors. Thanks for posting.

Chris Horton
Posted on May 10th 2012 at 11:01PM


I couldn't agree more on the importance of CTAs. Thanks for the kind words! My apologies for the late reply- I missed a few posts in here for some reason.


Posted on April 19th 2012 at 5:44PM

Great article, thanks. The lack of CTA and landing pages is the result of faulty planning.  Social media does not live by itself.  It needs to holistically be integrated in the marketing/client relationship building mix. Plan for the long-term at the marketing strategy level, while keeping tactics fresh. Loida  www.intothecore.com @LRosari

Posted on April 21st 2012 at 4:24PM

great points and good fodder in the follow up...I think that for some traditional mass marketers the shift for them comes when they truly get that the conversations are happening out there...and unlike conversations at a dinner table in the past that there wasn't any access to...we can now get in those conversations and impact them...I know our team continues to embrace the opporutnities in social more and more each day...its quite refreshing and encouraging to see...we've shifted from a "comms" approach to very much an integrated approach with marketing...cheers @MolsonFerg

Marc LeVine
Posted on April 23rd 2012 at 3:24PM

I find that many small business neophytes in Social Media Marketing end up throwing together a rag-tag following of assorted people (mostly friends and relatives), who are largely not interested in what the business has to offer nor are they very interested in talking about someone's products and services or introducing these business offerings to their network friends.

Do a quick reality check and invite your current friends to join your business page.  See what percentage you can convert in that way.  It is likely that only a small percentage of your current friends will take this action. 

SMBEs should be targeting and building an audience made up of existing customers, potential customer prospects (mined from business related sources) along with any  friends that they know are more likely to help spread the word throughout their own networks.

A related problem many SMBEs often have is failing to understand and embrace the "value principle" when it comes to building trust and authenticity among their target audience. Some go right to the sales pitch and quickly lose their audience. They fear giving too much information away for no immediate financial return.  But this is how it works in Social Media.  It takes time to convert people to buying customers and we all have to - first, -pay our dues by proving our expertise and  ourwillingness to help others learn more about what they may or may not need to purchase.

Posted on July 28th 2013 at 8:46PM

Great article.  Totally agree with the comments about integrating SEO with your social media strategy.  Keyword consistency is key in letting both your audience and Google know what your brand and website are relevant for.

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