The Problem with Social Media Marketing

I was reading a blog today and found this recommendation:

“leverage social tools to create buzz and demand for your product”.

I don’t know exactly what was meant by this, but it sounds like causation: that if you use social tools to talk to your customers then you’ll increase buzz and demand.

I’ve seen other recommendations like this by people calling themselves “social media marketers”. These folks are hired to use social tools to improve relationships with customers. I know some really good social media marketers, but still this claim seems to be creeping into the conventional wisdom of the field.

But people who are considering hiring social media marketers need to know that there is more to it than this.

Giving people a platform for expression doesn’t necessarily create buzz and demand. It only amplifies what the opinion was in the first place…

I was reading a blog about Download mp3 music today and found this recommendation:

“leverage social tools to create buzz and demand for your product”.

I don’t know exactly what was meant by this, but it sounds like causation: that if you use social tools to talk to your customers then you’ll increase buzz and demand.

I’ve seen other recommendations like this by people calling themselves “social media marketers”. These folks are hired to use social tools to improve relationships with customers. I know some really great social media marketers, but still this claim seems to be creeping into the conventional wisdom of the field.

But people who are considering hiring social media marketers need to know that there is more to it than this.

Giving people a platform for expression doesn’t necessarily create buzz and demand. It only amplifies what the opinion was in the first place.

In other words, if you give people a platform for expression and:

  • If your product sucks, the resulting conversation will be about how much it sucks.
  • If your product is great, the resulting conversation will be about how great it is.

In other words, it’s better to think of social media tools as amplifying customer opinion rather than improving it.

You can’t simply set up social media tools and expect your business to get better. You have to change your business for your business to get better.

However, even if your product sucks social media tools can help you, because they give you the choice to make your business better.

You can:

  1. Listen to the feedback (positive or negative), engage with those people, and improve your product/service.
  2. Ignore the feedback, keeping your product/service the same, and continue not improving.

Actually, there is a third choice. If you really don’t want to be in business, you can disagree with the feedback.

Finally, if you take the first choice and choose to engage and improve, you will start to realize a sort of causation because at that point people will start to recognize that you give a damn. And since companies that give a damn are so rare, your customers will go tell their friends about it.

That’s the promise of social media marketing…but it happens as a result of having a commitment to improvement, not simply because you implement social media tools.

Published: February 17th, 2008

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