The Uncomfortable Truth about Social Media Marketing

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The Uncomfortable Truth about Social Media Marketing


It’s very clear that social media alone is not “the magic pill” for businesses wanting to aggressively acquire new customers, clients and leads.  Social media marketing by itself with no other marketing integration will probably fizzle out over time for lacking consistent predictable results.  This is not a post lambasting social media, but rather a post to identify what social media really is at its core and how to best utilize it in an integrated inbound campaign.

Social Media Marketing TruthSocial media at its core is a distribution channel for content which allows people to have conversations around and share content.  It’s no different than FedEx rolling their trucks full of packages down neighborhood streets and delivering them to specific houses.  The roads are social media, the packages are content and the houses are people.  What’s important to realize is that the type and quality of content in the packages delivered by FedEx is responsible for the level of excitement the recipient has.  This excitement level determines whether or not someone converts or is compelled to take action.  Now take that analogy and add a virtual water cooler to it for people to talk about and share the contents of their packages and their excitement.

The key words in the above analogy are “content” and “excitement.” Excitement over content is analogous to having quality problem-solving and/or entertaining content which is compelling.  Ever hear “content is king?” Social media marketing which lacks a true content marketing and conversion strategy is nothing more than conversation and relationship building.  There’s nothing wrong with conversation and relationship building, but in order to develop relevant, consistent and predictable metrics which report on tangible results it’s not enough.  As a rule of thumb, Twitter Marketing for Dummies author, Kyle Lacy, recommends keeping this type of activity to one third of a Twitter campaign.

Three Types of Social Media Content

  • Self-produced
  • Other People's
  • Conversational

A good integrated social media campaign should have two additional content marketing strategies in order to cover the other two thirds of the above rule of thumb – producing (or paying/inviting someone to produce) original content and sharing other people’s content.  Sharing other people’s content is important to do because it allows the marketer to associate their brand with others while building relationships with the brands whose content is shared. The goal is to have other influential brands reciprocate and share too.

What are some examples of original content?

  • Blog posts
  • Sweepstakes & Contests
  • Coupons
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Pictures/Graphics
  • Whitepapers
  • Case Studies
  • Webinars
  • Guides
  • Ebooks
  • Anything which solves a problem and/or entertains that is self-produced

High quality content which is originally produced and distributed via social media channels provides the best chance to capture leads, gain new customers, and grow revenue in a social media marketing campaign because it can be scaled, tracked, tested and measured in a robust fashion.  Because of this, consistent content publishing and distribution via social media will maximize the ability to measure and predict results.  High Klout scores are nice to have, but the metric is not a predictor of revenue for people or brands.  Social media conversations and sharing other people's content alone does not equal predictable and testable metrics or monetization.

However, originally produced content which is distributed via social media and converts consumers does provide predictable and testable metrics.  In order to produce original content and convert consumers of that content other web platforms are required.  Some of these platforms could include a website, microsite, blog, or landing page.  Integrating a social media campaign with robust content marketing, conversion strategies and multiple web platforms is called inbound marketing and is required to make social media drive consistent, predictable and measurable results.

Image Credit:  kxlly


Bloggers and marketers should read this post also. This will give additional information and tactics in their social media marketing activities. Original content is very important plus factor with the other people's ideas which will allow a great marketing style and output. Thank you for sharing.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:42 AM by Anne Patrick
Love your FedEx analogy, Anne! It's dead on. The lack of integrated plans that view social media as channels to deliver content, promote, and engage is what is causing so much frustration and disappointment from many businesses. Social media isn't a silver bullet, and it also isn't the problem. The problem is businesses thinking and acting tactically before they've done their strategic thinking and disciplined planning. 
Thanks for pointing this out clearly.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:53 AM by Greg Linnemanstons
I totally agree. And a terrific analogy. I wrote about this as well, calling it the "Field of Dreams" Delusion. Some believe if you build it, they will come. They don't without a good reason and integration into a good marketing campaign makes it happen.
Posted @ Thursday, June 09, 2011 3:22 PM by Michael Cheek
Ann, Greg & Michael: 
I'm glad you enjoyed the post and agree with the analogy. There are two reasons I wrote this post: 
1. Many people I know trying to make a living in social media keep asking me how to monetize SM because they are struggling to do it. Those same people are really good at building relationships and coaching conversations, but do not integrate other marketing channels - in particular content marketing. Without integration consistent monetization is difficult and scaling is impossible. 
2. To give help and guidance to those wanting to try or quit social media marketing. There's a lot of delusions of grandeur regarding what social media can do for business - The truth is it is a lot of hard work and strategy. 
Posted @ Thursday, June 09, 2011 6:56 PM by Chad H. Pollitt
Chris, great post! I'm giving a talk this week at my weekly networking group and I'm going to ask them all to read this post before I present my ten minute speech. Thank you, this is excellent work!
Posted @ Saturday, June 11, 2011 8:12 AM by Tim Ludy
Tim, Thanks for your comment. The post is actually written by Chad Pollitt. But I'm glad to hear you're sharing it with your networking group. 
Posted @ Saturday, June 11, 2011 8:18 AM by Chris Knipper
My bad, I meant to type Chad.  
Sorry Chad, excellent work!!
Posted @ Saturday, June 11, 2011 8:22 AM by Tim Ludy
No problem - Thanks and I'm glad you found value in the post! 
Posted @ Saturday, June 11, 2011 5:31 PM by Chad H. Pollitt
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