Why it’s OK to be anti-social media.

A colleague just forwarded me an excellent blog post entitled “Anti-Social Media Marketing” that I wish I had written. Despite its title, the blogger — Ian G. Heller of Real Results Marketing — does not pooh-pooh the use of social media. On the contrary, he says, “Without a doubt, there are massive marketing benefits available to marketers who can figure out how to harness the attention and preferences of audiences using social media tools.”

What he questions is the obsession for social media and the conviction that social media is the only way to go in this “inbound-driven” marketing environment.

Here is the most compelling part of his argument: “Social media, however, cannot yet substitute entirely for other, more traditional forms of marketing. Recently, I was on an ‘expert panel’ at a marketing event and the audience was breathlessly excited about social media. At one point, all of us panelists were asked to comment on the value of this new channel and, when it was my turn, I stated that, while I thought social media would someday provide enormous marketing value, I was concerned that people were focusing too much effort and attention on it. I said that, in my view, there was probably no huge “first mover advantage” in figuring out how to market successfully via social media and that it was important to continue to utilize email, direct mail, direct sales, telesales, advertising and other channels for now.”

Read his post for the full story, and you’ll be amused as I was at the reaction in the room when he made this statement.

To illustrate the point that some social media is being overhyped, I point to the recent Sysomos study “An In-Depth Look Inside the Twitter World.” This study shows that, although Twitter usage is going up, 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity.

The reality is that social media is still in a stage of discovery and development and has yet to be proven a reliable source for business leads.

A marketer’s first job, after all, is to generate qualified leads that can lead directly to sales. That is, to build a pipeline of companies and contacts that can be nurtured and turned directly into sales and revenue. Until social media can directly generate those leads I would follow Ian Heller’s advice.

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