The 5 Things I Hate About Social Media

by Brian Carter December 14th, 2009 

This is a rant. But just so you don't get me wrong here, let me preface this with my qualifications:

  • I direct Social Media for an interactive marketing agency
  • I've been heavily involved in resulted-oriented Social Media promotions for about two years
  • I cofounded a Twitter advertising platform
  • I have more than 30,000 twitter followers, have posted more than 16,000 tweets, and have more than 1,000 Facebook friends
  • I've spoken at several major industry conferences about how to do Social Media marketing better

That said, there are some things bugging me. And I'm not just being grouchy, although I'm certainly capable.

Why am I ranting? Because these are what I value most in online marketing:

  • ROI
  • Planning
  • Analytics

It's important to me that they're prioritized in Social Media. But I see a lot of sentiment going other directions.

The 5 Things I Hate About Social Media:

1. "Conversations" Without a Plan

I don't like hearing social media gurus telling people to go start and engage in conversations. There's nothing wrong with talking. But talking without a purpose or a goal could be a waste of time

Do my conversations have a hidden agenda? No, it's not hidden. The goal is to help the client make more money.

I don't think we should go out and "engage" people without a plan and a goal…. unless you're doing customer service. Talking to existing customers to create a deeper relationship and increase repeat business is a good idea. But wouldn't adding to your plan some kind of incentive/offer for the repeat business increase your chances of getting the conversion?


by glitter feet

I'm starting to feel like I'm being too much of a "guy" about Social Media. Is the ROI focus from Mars and Social Media from Venus?

Let's compare social media marketing to dating; before you get any action, you have to:

  1. Get the girl on a date
  2. Find something in common (or see a movie to create a commonality)
  3. Talk about the commonality over dinner
  4. Ask questions, listen, listen, listen
  5. Make a move at just the right time

Maybe my emphasis on direct response is too one-night-standish? Or maybe some of you are too afraid to ask for a sale… or a date.

That in mind, here are my four steps in the Social Focus Path to Revenue, along with the ROI Focus Path.

socialfocuspath

Each step in the four part Social Focus Path needs an incentive.

  1. Why should they pay attention?
  2. Why should they friend you?
  3. Why should they respond?
  4. Why should they buy?

Think about it. Plan it. Then do it.

2. Soft Goals and Fudged Measurements

Let's pick on other advertising employed by people who sell hope instead of results. I'll grant you that, at our best in search advertising, we're running tests based on hopeful hypotheses, but those of us who obsess over conversion rates and ROI understand that getting results requires both:

  • An analytics-empowered framework or platform that enables iterative optimization AND
  • Strong plans that are thought through the buyer's entire decision-making journey.

Some advertising pitches collect loads of statistics implying exposure/awareness and that business results are sure to follow. Experienced AdWords advertisers understand that even the best ideas are only about 25% likely to work. Everything should be tested.

Every step in the persuasion process should be planned. We need to keep asking "Why would the prospect do X? Why would they do Y? Are we sure they will do Z?"


by psd

We could make some big mistakes with Social Media:

  • Tolerate pre-conversion KPI's
  • Neglect setting up and improving Social Media analytics
  • Jump for joy because of a few thousand clicks (when we'd never consider a pay per click campaign a success by the same measurement)

I'll also grant you: the analytics may not be sufficient, and we don't have social media marketing down to a science. But that doesn't mean we should lower our standards.

3. Lack of Forethought

What if you don't even have a goal for your Social Media activities? Come here and I'll slap you. Almost no business I can think of has enough money to pay you just gab with people.

ROI is the name of the game. The economy sucks. If someone is entrusting you with thousands of dollars, you should do everything in your planning power to maximize the chances they will get a positive, if not excellent, ROI. If you can't see that, please get out of the marketing and advertising profession.


by Eneas

Yes, Social Media is cool. Even fun. And companies are spending more and more money on it. Yes, it could pay your salary. But don't waste the moment, please. Don't kill the goose that's laying the golden eggs. Go for the ROI. Then there will be more money where that came from.

It amazes me when people don't see that getting results is the same as pleasing the client or employer long term, and that means job security for you. Temporarily wowing people only to waste their money on zero-ROI activities is a doomed endeavor. You risk your job and the reputation of social media marketing.

4. Hype Bandwagon Lemmings

I am one of the people who's been beating the drum for Social Media over the last few years.It wasn't getting enough attention. But it shouldn't be given carte blanche either.

I'm disturbed by how many companies want to get into the Social Media game without enough forethought to ensure they'll get a positive return from it.

"We have to have a website" has turned into "we have to be on Facebook". Maybe, but a website doesn't guarantee ROI, and nor does a Facebook page. I suggest you make sure that the main party who wins from Facebook marketing is just not Facebook.


by ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

We, at Fuel, find that Social Media requires tedious planning, daring creativity, and obsessive execution.

  • Lack of planning?
    If you're not trying to get anywhere specific, you'll probably achieve that.
  • Timid creatively?
    We're all busy, so if you're boring, you get zero attention.
  • Poor execution?
    You could endanger relationships with existing customers. Social media can hurt you, too. We'll seen that happen at the hands of other social media agencies.

5. Some Advertisers's Approach to Social Media

Some marketers have had a tough time adjusting to Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click. Semantic relevance, granular marketing, rigid analytics, the overbearing focus on ROI… yuck! These are 90-180 degrees from the culture of previous advertising. Only direct mail people had the mindset to "get" it.

But wait… Social Media, with its fuzzy goals and pre-conversion KPI's… the fact that social media works better with creative "big idea" campaigns… this seems a lot like the old Radio and TV advertising- but online. Wow, this could be cool!

Yes, it's a temporary refuge for some to continue to make money in their old mindset, not having to learn granular marketing or to focus on ROI. But it's bad for businesses who want results.

Brian Carter

CEO of FanReach, Brian Carter has been an Internet Marketer, speaker, and social media trainer since 1999. Brian has been quoted and profiled by Information Week, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine. He is the author of the book How To Get More Facebook fans. He is both an adwords consultant and a facebook consultant. Check out his his free Facebook Marketing 101 course, and the full FanReach Facebook Marketing and Advertising course.

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3 Responses to “The 5 Things I Hate About Social Media”

  1. Social Media feels like it is a lot of fluff that has been overblown. I don't care to do it but I have to pay attention to what is happening in the world of SEO.

  2. ptaylor98 says:

    Excellent points!! Not a rant, but a call to common sense. Social media is simply one step more than old-style "broadcast" advertising. It is marketing with conversation, not just shouting on the web. Analytics and ROI are always important. Thanks for your post!

  3. Roy Paeth says:

    Good read. There is a whole lot of confusing info about social media out there. Trying to sort through what is real and what is fluff can be tough.

    Roy Paeth
    Chicago First Time Home Buyer