Digital Marketing Bias: “Social media is a waste of time.” or “Social media is the only thing that matters.”

media-998990_1920Social media is the newer channel in digital marketing but one that is growing fast. In fact it’s growing so fast that it’s becoming difficult to lump all social media platforms together. The most frequent social media argument is over which platform is most effective. But to avoid too much granularity, we’ll go with its overall effectiveness. Because of social media’s rapid evolution it tends to be the most polarizing topic for biases.

Social media is a waste of time

Seasoned marketers tend to be the hold outs on social media. A scoffing or general derision is directed at social platforms as an “unauthentic” way of marketing. There tend to be three versions of this bias:

  • Just socializing – The claim is that no “real” marketing can be accomplished on social media because it’s a tool for casual socializing. That’s like saying networking events aren’t good to generate business because it’s a social setting. Just because most social networks are conversational does not mean that you can’t engage meaningfully in a way that builds your brand and drives conversions.
  • Doesn’t convert – The suggestion is that social media audiences never buy or become identifiable leads. What this view often means is that the trainer, consultant, or professional coach struggles to track social media leads. It is true that social media is an intermediary step in generating a conversion (a like, follow, or connection is rarely a lead without a follow up action) but that doesn’t mean social contacts don’t take that next step. Dive into the metrics via your website (linked to your social networks) or via a social network’s tracking to see how people might be taking advantage of offers.
  • It’s a fad – This claim is getting more confusing day-by-day but it still comes up. “Everyone thought Myspace was critical a few years back too. Look where that is now.” That’s a quote I heard this year, in 2016. Social media is not going to fail as a whole. It’s certainly possible that a single platform might erode but some of the tried and true networks are more than safe to craft a campaign around.

Social media is the only thing that matters.

Then there are the people that think social media is the end all and be all. Their marketing campaign’s calendar is littered with social media posts and initiatives that fail to leverage any other channels. This viewpoint is often driven by:

  • Cutting Edge – The thought is that social media is the wave of the future and “everyone” is there. The fact is that everyone isn’t there. While adoption keeps growing and tools within the platform keep expanding, it’s unlikely that social channels will assimilate every aspect of digital marketing.
  • Social media is the only way I’ll be noticed – I overheard a digital marketer tell a trainer, “If you aren’t on Facebook, you don’t exist.” The irony of the statement is that the trainer had been running a successful marketing campaign for years. The argument could have been made that the campaign could benefit from a Facebook presence but to say the marketing was non-existent is ridiculous. Those that adore social media tend to think it’s the only platform for being noticed. The fact is that the social media realm is very crowded and establishing a voice that can drive marketing effectiveness is a difficult task. Don’t count on social media to be your only exposure to your target market because you’ll be missing out on many other channels for being noticed.

One comment

  • Carol Rosdobutko

    Good article. I hope you’re well, enjoying life and having fun.



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