Why Social Media is bad for Business

stuffThe clue is in the name: social media. It’s not ‘I’m looking for something to buy’ media. If people want to buy stuff they go to a shopping channel or Google it or ask their friends for advice.

There are loads of people telling you to get onto all the various social media platforms as it will improve brand awareness and build relationships and all sort of other twaddle. But none of this will pay the bills. You can spend all day getting into a conversation with somebody but unless they actually buy something you aren’t going to pay the bills?

likeThe buzzword for a long time was engagement. Social Media was all about engaging with people. Nobody really understood what this meant but they did it anyway. It’s all changed now, the word to use is ‘interactions’. This seems to mean connecting with people so that they respond. There are some interesting studies on how this works but as far as I can tell it’s paid promotion that now provides the best returns.

How This (Doesn’t) Work

youlikedthisjpgSuppose you post regularly on an SM site. You might get some returns for your efforts but it’s not that impressive as Andy Gambles found out. It’s only when you start to advertise that things really kick off: you need to pay for inclusion in a news feed if you want to get connected. See here for some stats and more info here.

But even then there is only limited room in a newsfeed or page of images. Suppose you are promoting onto a social media site that delivers 200 posts in a newsfeed. People who do a lot of following will have a newsfeed filled with posts from all over the place. You could post about your stunning new product but the chances of it being seen are inversely proportional to the popularity of the viewer.

Now imagine 10, 20 or even more ‘liked’ companies all promoting on a newsfeed. The clutter and noise will increase to such a level that the whole lot becomes ignored or removed. Facebook is already doing this. They filter the posts that appear in a news feed to make it more relevant to the member. Organic Reach on Facebook.

The increase in Social Media Management means things are going to get worst. Everybody is jumping on the SM bandwagon as a cheap and easy way to promote their products and services with the result that that all you see is marketing guff. I can’t remember that last time I even clicked on a promotion let alone actually brought something.

A while back I showed my approval for Goodwood. I’m now inundated with emails, posts, images and all sorts of other intrusive content. The end result is I’ve unfriended them. Now admittedly this is just poor marketing on their part but it does demonstrate how much continual feeds can be bad for business.

Nobody is going to see your stuff

Well maybe a few will but the average life of a Facebook post is under 24 hours and a tweet under an hour. If you are hoping for a retweet then you have to catch your readers in the first 5 minutes.With Instagram and Pinterest you only get one shot – so the life of an image can be measured in seconds. Other platforms have various measures of longevity but they all have one common feature: unless your posting is in front of the follower at the moment they checking the feed the chances of them seeing your contribution diminish rapidly as time goes by. So your painstakingly crafted promo for whatever may well never get in front of your target client.

How to Escape the Social Media Treadmill

Stop pushing stuff onto Social Media. Start doing so proper marketing. Research shows that email marketing still has an excellent ROI if the messages are targeted, well written and not blasted out every day. You could pay for advertising. Google Adwords can still brings in highly targeted customers if the keywords, advert and landing page are all optimized.

Get referrals. Do a really great job and your customers will tell their friends. Social Media does work here because it’s not you doing the work.

readmytweetsStart hanging out the same places your clients do. This sounds a bit naff but if you are selling bicycle saddles then joining in the discussions about narrow seats and erectile dysfunction (Google it) will bring your business to the attention of a targeted audience. This doesn’t mean posting on Facebook or commenting on an Instagram photo, it means finding the cycling forums, event sites, Reddit and so on.

And before everyone start banging on about the popularity of social media, I’m not suggesting you stop posting picture of kittens or tweeting about some celeb. That’s what social media is all about. What it isn’t is business media. I know a lady who used to do marketing for the Agatha Christy estate. They had millions of facebook likes, all from existing Agatha Christy fans. Not one of those likes had any new commercial value, they were from people who were already buying books and merchandise.

Be sure of what you want

If all you want is to be popular then keep pushing the facebook likes, pins, re-tweets and whatever. It might make you feel loved and wanted but is this really the purpose of your business? If you want to make money then Social Media is not the way to go about it.

Do your market research and find out what floats the boat of your target customer. If they spend all day gazing at celebrity magazines then that’s where you need to advertise. If they spend their weekends at rallys and shows then that where you need to be. Social Media sites are for socialising. The more the marketeers try to monetise them the faster they are doomed to failure.

Here’s a few more related posts:

Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page

From Social to Sale (PDF)

Content Curation Killing Social Media Marketing

Can Social Media be Killing Brands

You’re Killing Social Media Success

4 Reasons Why Social Network Marketing is a Bad Content Strategy

The half life of a tweet

Add your comment

  1. Steve said:

    Loving it, just loving it. I remember when (grandad speak) the internet was about websites and the information they provided, as well as the ‘Del’ boys and their one page wonders. Now returning to this some 6 yrs later I’ve tried to intergrate with social media (totally lost to it or lost it?) and still prefer the gossip down the pub. So I wrote an article on it myself about the idea of some seo’s calling it seo tactics. Errr! No and totally agree unless you’re a named company you’ll only get drowned out. Anyway cheers for this article, glad it’s not just me!

    • Aerin said:

      Was talking to a chap today about his website and how he wasn’t getting many new leads. When I asked him what marketing he was doing his answer was: facebook and twitter. He sells industrial floor cleaner. He couldn’t grasp the fact that his potential customers were unlikely to be browsing FB looking for floor cleaner. I suggested adverting in trade magazines but he was adamant that ‘everybody uses social media, nobody reads magazines anymore’. I left him to it.

      • Steve said:

        People you’ve got to ‘love’ ’em? In response to Aerin I’ve had the same experiences on business forums where they ask a question you give a sensible answer, only for some clown to come along and change the subject, which had nothing to do with the topic and everybody else gets lost in that ‘new’ conversation. These days if someone talks about something they’re doing I smile and move on to the weather.

  2. Mel said:

    Ooo, I like a good rant. And, worryingly, you’ve just verbalised one of my concerns about my own social media…ie: is it worth it? But shhh, I didn’t say that out loud 🙂 Mel

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