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September 11, 2012

Social Media Overload – An Epic Fail for Business

There must be something wrong with me. The whole world is gaga over social media. But I just don’t get it. And neither do my clients.

I understand the concept and the value in today’s world of search rankings. But you’ve lost me on how it benefits me as a person or as a business.

It robs me of valuable time.

Take Twitter, for example. I set up an account for one of my clients a couple of years ago, devoting daily attention to creating inspired tweets, including hashtags and links to bolster response. I added a Twitter widget to the client’s homepage to bring these choice words of wisdom to his captive audience, if they failed to find them elsewhere.

While I told myself that such an effort was responsible for additional backlinks, new customer visits and added popularity for my client’s brand, I really have no proof of that other than one link listed in our Google Analytics account. Eventually, I ran out of steam and focused on other aspects of his marketing.

Concurrently, I had also set up Twitter accounts for my own business to represent a number of different services, as well as for one of my lawyer clients who always gives me free rein over everything involved with marketing. Again, lots of creative effort with not much to show for it, other than the website widget and a link for each in Google Analytics.

Last week, I noticed that Twitter was reaching out to me… in Japanese! Uh, oh. I revisited my main Twitter account to find that someone had hacked into my account and was sending out tweets about weight loss under my name. Upon receiving a second email from Twitter today, again in Japanese, I checked my Twitter settings to find that the time zone was set to Quito, Ecuador, which is actually the same as my New York time, but does not explain the Japanese connection. My language is set to English. Something is rotten in Denmark.

After having explored my options in Twitter’s help pages, I basically went round in circles to end up where I began: nowhere. No surprise there.

What I do acknowledge, however, is that when I receive an email from Twitter introducing a new follower, something entices me to click through to learn who the person is, if not obviously spam. Not only do I explore their Twitter account, but I often go to their website as well. Usually they are service providers of one kind or another attempting to sell me something. At that point, the exploration ends. So much for Twitter’s value for me or for them. But if reaching someone more open to spending money, Twitter may be an effective liaison.

The Facebook Connection: Monopolizing the Internet

So, what about Facebook, in all its infamy? With Google’s recent affirmations that social media now plays a huge role in our search rankings based on how many “like” votes we receive, continuing to shun Facebook, as I have been for a long time, is now inadvisable. In fact, I informed each of my clients of its importance as well, recommending that we set up accounts and link from their websites. I further advised our adding the social endorsement buttons to their websites to try to encourage favorable votes. While all told me to proceed, they each reiterated their personal dislike for the whole scenario. I couldn’t agree more.

I tend to draw my opinion from how annoying each social site is based on email interruptions. Facebook by far is the most obnoxious, constantly sending me emails that I have “notifications” or “7 friend requests” or that someone “added friends I may know.” Of course, since I manage up to five client websites with Facebook accounts, my emails are multiplied by that number.

First of all, the “notifications” or “activity on the account” are primarily posts that people add every time they click on a “like” button out in cyberspace, which sends graphics, text and links to each of their friends’ Facebook accounts. Since my clients and I don’t know any of these “friends,” nor do we share in any of their often insipid interests, I fail to see what filling up our accounts with endless references to their endorsed material has to do with us or our lives, especially repeatedly all day long! The whole thing seems ridiculous.

I suppose if we were using the Facebook account as it was intended, to reconnect with lifelong friends with whom we had lost touch over the years, maybe it would make more sense. But for us in business, that is a stretch.

The Facebook Effect: A Wall of Confusion

My adult son had sent me a “friend” request last year to which I responded through a private email that I was afraid to have any activity on Facebook whatsoever because I was so protective of my Google profile. As a business person, I told him, I was fearful that something negative may pop up to ruin the reputation I had worked so long and hard to build and would be impossible to eradicate, if he knew anything about search results. Also, curious about his Facebook activity, I told him that his Facebook account was not accessible because he had not addressed his privacy settings. With visions of risque behavior dancing in my head, I found out that he had no activity whatsoever but was innocently inviting me, his mother, to share in his life through a Facebook connection. With email as our only communication in recent years, I felt awful but had to stick to my guns. My concerns are valid and he agreed he was naive, as well as overwhelmed with all the Facebook privacy options. So, never mind. (What kind of mother rejects her son’s request to be friends? Someday I hope to come to my senses. Maybe.)

My negative opinion of Facebook was further confirmed recently when I decided to buy shares on its opening day on the stock market, since I passed up Google when it was priced around $80 per share, and now trades near $650. Similarly, I passed up LinkedIn which continues to rise with the best of the momentum stocks. As a Mac lover and user for many years, I did buy Apple at $110 (with a modest 50 shares, just in case it tanked) and we all know what happened there. Had I not sold it twenty years ago after having bought 100 shares in the $30 range, I’d be a bit happier but I can’t complain. Apple is a peach!

But about Facebook I will complain. I paid a whopping $40 per share and quickly bailed out a couple of days later at $30. Having been through the dot-com bust, losing a fortune on Internet stocks, I am not one to buy and sell so quickly, but tend to hold forever with hopes that there may be a bounce back if held long enough. Not this time for Facebook, I decided. I should have known better, and did, but gambled and lost. Serves me right for ignoring my long-established disgust for the company.

Google’s Role In Promoting This Insanity

What gets me is that every TV and radio commercial for products of every variety says, “Find us on Facebook.” Why? The reason is obvious. Everyone is looking for the almighty “like” votes so important to Google. I repeat: I find this ridiculous.

And what about buying followers? On Twitter, or Facebook, or wherever. What kind of world is this? Beyond ridiculous, it is preposterous.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, I do not find as offensive. Its emails are updates about business people I actually know. My profile is true with dates and facts for my entire career unlike what I know of Facebook: a fairy tale people invent about themselves.

As a newcomer to Google+, so far its advantages have outweighed its problems. Like Facebook, I get constant emails about someone “sharing” something with me, again from people I do not know. But having an affiliation with Google+ has made my photo and contact information much more visible to anyone searching for me, my business or related material, which makes it worthwhile.

The Other Side of the Story

Probably if my clients seriously considered my suggestion that we use Facebook as a way to promote certain special offers, we would all find more satisfaction with its function. But, I have to admit that chasing after a world of strangers to be “friends” with a business they may not know or have any need only increases the likelihood of irritating someone, or worse, making them leery. That’s the last thing a business wants to do! Yet, ironically, that is exactly what many of today’s businesses are doing.

In my opinion, the chief social media problems for businesses are:

1. a lack of time to create suitable content and communicate with “friends”;

2. an aversion to revealing a personal side of the business;

3. a fear of offending followers by constantly imposing on their email.

In addition, Facebook does not categorize its world of users in any way that allows a business to reach out to them through a targeted search, i.e., just sports car drivers, for instance. I believe this was done purposely so that you would need to advertise on Facebook to reach appropriate candidates. Twitter allows you to search by category but does not allow you to follow all with one click. To do so would be a grueling manual process taking lots of precious time. No wonder the spamming services are getting rich!

The bottom line is with more effort to add creative, engaging and meaningful content to our social platforms on a daily (if not hourly!) basis while getting personally involved with responding to any and all posts generated by our “friends,” we small businesses would probably find better reason to join the crowd of today’s social media addicts.

But given the amount of time needed to simply run a business and earn enough to pay our many expenses, I just don’t see this as realistic. If we can find a clone (or robot) who will work for free at doing only the non-stop social media job, then social media for business may have a fighting chance at success.


Marilyn Bontempo, president of Mid-Hudson Marketing, based in Holmes, New York, has been developing strategies for business success for more than 36 years. A professional writer and graduate of Bard College, she has won numerous awards for excellence in marketing, photography, graphics, writing and web design. As a specialist in branding, she assists many of her clients with management of their social media and public relations initiatives. In addition, she handles e-commerce for a number of online merchants not only on their own websites but through eBay, Amazon and others. View her work at http://www.midhudsonmarketing.com. Connect with Marilyn Bontempo on Google+.

97 Responses to “Social Media Overload – An Epic Fail for Business

    avatar D Johnson says:

    Marilyn,

    I have been beating this drum for years. To no avail. So much so that I GOT OUT OF PROVIDING WEB MARKETING SERVICES, and not soon enough.

    This is all a hoax, perpetrated by the Web Marketing industry. SEO services were limited in scope, for most providers. But Soc Med…whoaa…you could bill and “make work” until the client account was drained. Tapped out.

    Then you could say…look, you are EVERYWHERE!

    Never mind if it resulted in no business. That was not eh point, sir. We’re BRANDING! and if you don’t get it then you will be off the bus and NOWHERE

    Soc Med. It’s BS, for MOST businesses. Sure, we all read about big corporations who put on great promotions through FB or Twit. It’s easy for them to get followers with giveaways.

    Once in a great while, a small biz makes some kind of wave with some cute gizmo or gimmick. Not often. Good luck coming up with one that gets traction.

    Because NOBODY CARES. Everyone posts. Nobody listens. It’s all noise.

    avatar Ricky Wilson says:

    I would start and ask the Social Media Tribe to tell me what their time working is worth per hour, how many hours they spent on Social Media working and what TANGIBLE ROI they have. I would then ask this Tribe of workers to provide the INTANGIBLE ROI and to quantify that in Dollars and Sense. I would then sort the fantasy from the fiction.
    Marilyn everyone need perspective, Thank You.

    avatar D Johnson says:

    I will add that a business that posts events, like live music in a bar or restaurant, can find good value in FB and such.

    avatar Dante says:

    Why do I get the feeling this article was written by Google?

    avatar Christopher says:

    I agree with you, most social media sites for business emphasize their “likes” or “followers” but its is difficult to quantify the results for a business. I would like to recommend you review FAVsmile.com…a site that yes, I created and launched (I mention this for fair disclosure) This simple site, simply allows businesses to learn about their client’s favorite things. This concept can easily quantify a use for any business. Learn what your clients like…offer them better service and relationships. Take a look, Id love to go into more detail with you if possible.

    avatar Bud Wood says:

    A couple of years ago, I signed up for a Facebook account because a supplier encouraged signing up. SInce then, I have mostly left Facebook alone because there seems to be no advantages in being friends with people who have little interest in much more than having a few thousand “friends” on a prominent social media.

    avatar Marcel White says:

    Your article is great and the comments you already got are smashing.

    I think the same way but was afraid to say because I thought there was a risk to be considered an old-fashioned-privacy-obsessive-person.

    Thanks, you set me free!

    avatar Sean S. says:

    I think it all depends on the type of business. Ours is very visual (we do design work and hand painted signs) and we land projects on a regular basis through Facebook. I think if you have something visual to share, it can be a good thing to invest time in. If we were “Joe’s Plumbing” then no, I don’t see that making any sense…

    avatar Dan Ringwald says:

    Marilyn,

    Right on! If it’s business then you better be looking for the ROI. It’s funny you ended with “If we can find a clone (or robot)”

    Check the link out below on The Race Against the Machine. Very interesting reading. Thanks

    http://www.amazon.com/Race-Against-The-Machine-ebook/dp/B005WTR4ZI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347464212&sr=8-2&keywords=race+against+the+machine

    avatar Rebecca says:

    Shwew!

    I thought I was alone in observing that the Emperor was unclad!

    Thanks! I feel better!

    avatar Barb says:

    FINALLY the truth is being told! Not everybody is into social media and it’s not good for every business. Social media does NOT blow my hair back. Never did and never will.

    I tried signing up for FB some time ago and found the questions asked were too personal. Questions that were nobody’s business. I remember saying to myself when asked to answer some of their invasive questions “What? That’s none of your business!” or “I’m not going to answer that.”

    Putting your personal info on these social media sites only invites ID theft and possible strangers knocking at your door.

    Great article and glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks social media is a crap shoot and often a waste of time. It’s not for everyone no matter what Google says.

    Wow! Where shall I begin? First, thank you, everyone, for your overwhelming support, insights, references and personal experiences. I also truly appreciate comments from those who shared their advice about how to make social media work for business, something I had hoped for and was surprised there weren’t more of. I agree it certainly depends on the type of business we’re addressing, most of which I do not have the pleasure of representing. For those who asked me to read an article or view a website, I have done so with satisfaction. Ironically, I also spent most of the day yesterday trying to properly interpret and manage the many social privacy and notification preferences for all of my clients’ pages which should have prefaced the writing of this article. But I admit every day in this life is a learning experience and someday I hope to know everything. But until I do, I will continue to enjoy the wonderful dialogue and feedback I get from contributing to this excellent forum! Thanks again, everyone!

    avatar Matt says:

    I disagree with MOST of this post. It’s definitely possible to get a ROI in social media. Remember the ‘rule of seven’ anyone? It’s all about keeping your business exposed to the biggest audience possible so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Obviously it everything depends on your business model and your goals, but our clients have had a lot of success in FB especially with promotions and giveaways. Twitter is good for that as well if your tweets/giveaways get picked up by someone with a lot of followers.

    avatar jt says:

    I have to agree on social disclosure. While most “friends” are likely harmless, to divulge ones personal details so readily to all and sundry is asking for trouble. Purely a numbers game, inevitably the more people you tell, the more likely it is that someone will use it against you, however innocuous the info. may be to you. Openness with close friends may be safe (although many have been let down there!) It follows, to broadcast personal info to everyone must be foolhardy, at best. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk.
    http://www.mycall.mobi

    Nice to have my suspicions confirmed about social media and business marketing. As a small business owner I alway thought I would end up having to devote more and more time to operating social media marketing – its takes enough time just to do the day to day normal stuff to keep a business going. This article will stop me feeling guilty about not doing it. Thanks very much!

    avatar Diana M. says:

    I have avoided, like the bubonic plague, FaceBook, personally and for my business. I had to finally relent for the business, but due to lack of time (and resources to pay a professional) it is so lackluster. I also relented personally so I could quit using my husband’s page to look at my daughter’s and brother’s family photos. Now, I have too many “friends” that I do not care to have (impolite to ignore them) and people posting and sharing garbage on my page, much of which I find offensive. My instincts were also right: FaceBook is useless. I will very likely delete my personal Facebook account as I find it a useless black hole that sucks time from my life. I could be doing “real stuff!” You are dead on the money about Social Media. I have to make money to pay bills – not make up useless junk on my Facebook or a Twitter page and annoy people – and the way I make “friends” is by servicing my customers – not wasting time on social media!

    avatar Aileron says:

    @Matt Show us some stats please?

    So many people talk about ROI but its meaningless in social media. It’s all about branding and branding is not the same as direct sales. People search for info only when they want something specific, that’s where you need to be. Only the big 1% companies get bang for their buck out of mass branding campaigns. Small businesses need direct sales to survive, showing up in direct searches and direct reviews will close a deal.

    There is way too much bullshit on the net, its feeds off itself. We made a game about it, called Where did all the money go? you can support it here or read about it on this blog alert.sqwark.me

    avatar justpsnthru says:

    yepper … I spent a little over a year on 3 of my sites and 15 to 20 of my clients sites getting all embedded and doing the daily thing with FB, Twitter, etc – results = waste of time, this is mis / crossed marketing – it is like going to a back yard neighborhood bbq and trying to give out business cards – people will get a lower impression of you if you do that – these folks are there to mostly have fun saying dumb things on the wall or tweet not think about or purchase anything – I have the stats on all sites to prove the back links are so minimal it is shocking. SM is not for biz to make money and versus the time investment it’s a money pit at this time for small business.

    After over five years of trying to communicate to my market and associated niches, I have found social media websites to be a total waste of time, money and energy. While I have been trying to finish two books I have used most of my writing time reaching out to potential customers wherever I can and found that the responses were just more spam for services I don’t need, and contacts I don’t want. To date, I have not had a single sale from a social contact. And what few sales I have had were from people looking at my books on my site and then they went to Amazon to buy them, so I gain no advantage from selling them myself. As for Linked In, I am focused on B2C and not B2B so it is totally useless. The best thing anyone can do at this point is to take out advertising the old fashioned way and forget about social networking.

    avatar Darline says:

    Very good post. Many people get caught up in the fakeness online and forget about reality easily. I agree 100% about the fairytale life with social sites and then they forget about the real dangers of the internet. I will have to say that facebook has helped me get in touch with my family that I wouldn’t have found other ways. That is the only reason I have stayed on there. Thanks for the excellent point of view and sharing your experience and knowledge on this subject.

    avatar Veronica says:

    Having been a daily internet business user since 1986, I couldn’t agree more. Goodbye Google, Hello Bing!

    Google is doing everything Yahoo set out to stop in the early days. I had one of the very first websites on the internet with pictures. It was written in DOS. I ranked at the top of Yahoo, no matter what you typed in, because I discovered if I tagged my site with keywords like sex, money, Michael Jordan,etc. I could out rank everyone for everything.

    This is what Google is now doing with social media.
    They give top rank to the likes and tags of posts with keywords. They also allow PPC and sponsored advertising to big box stores who buy thousands of keywords in blocks. Can you believe Home Depot and Sears pay for sponsored adds for the search term vintage chandelier earrings? It makes it impossible to find any REAL relevant content in their search engine and the quality of the results is greatly diminished.

    Bing is mainly content driven, as it should be.

    GOOGLE IS DESTROYING THE INTERNET! STOP USING IT!

    P.S. If you own Google stock, now is a good time to sell. In Cyber Space, all good things come to an end and Google is ticking off so many people it is just a matter of time.

    avatar Phil says:

    Thank god i’m not the only one who thinks this, i’m forever reading social media this and social media that but i just don’t get it

    avatar Veronica says:

    Marilyn my dear, there is nothing wrong with you. You are just smarter than the average person, in real life and online but you did make a tragic mistake buying Facebook : they dont even have a viable business model or any real projectable income.

    My experience on the internet goes back to the very beginning. This is what my life online was like back in 1985-1986.

    The only place where people online could discuss issues were on BB’s or by emails, but almost no one had an email address. Most people online were hooked up thru colleges, universities, or the government.

    The vast majority of people online in 1985-86 thought this new internet thing was just a fad. There were many lengthy arguments why it would not last, and how people didnt have time for Cyber Space. There was a general consensus that big business would never go for “intangible advertising”. At this time, there were no big business dot coms and everyone who thought the internet might take hold were rushing out and buying every dot com business name for $10 or less, only later to have them taken back under copyright law.

    I recall defending the internet, stating that this was going to be something that would bring the world together and would be the biggest boom in communication and information the world has ever seen. No more need for a whole bookshelf or encyclopedias or libraries and the dreaded Dewey Decimal system or 411. Everything you ever wanted to know would be right at your fingertips online.

    VERY FEW believed this in the early days.
    Im sad to say, what I missed is that it would open up a whole new world of scams, fraud, hackers, and no constraints on personal data.

    I was one of the few who believed in the early days. But now, what I see with social media : It is a FAD and IT WILL NOT LAST. Even young people will get sick and bored after awhile and search for REALITY.

    Now, when I say social media, Im not just talking about Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In but also sites like Pinterest, Polyvore, and other social tagging sites.

    I have run different online businesses since 1986 and using social media is a total waste of time for business. This addage will awlays hold true : CONTENT IS KING. Sure, put just one business link on each social site to feed the Google beast, but anything more than that will not do anything for search engine ranking.

    What social media wants to do is track you. Then, no matter where you are online, they can force feed you relevant business ads. This is what the whole game is set up to be : a means to an end. I cant believe the amount of people out there who think social media sites were set up just so you could communicate with others! What the hell happened to email ? It is a brilliant marketing ploy, but it gets old, just like all the email scams from Nigeria.

    Eventually, people will wake up and take off their blinders. You will see social media transform into something else. What I predict are individual mini-sites where one can set up THEIR OWN social site, completely controlled by them without any advertising or tracking, just for their own set of friends, family, or business associates. It will become more of a microcosm and in 5-10 years, the younger generation wont even know what the hell you are talking about when you say FB or Twitter or Pinterest! They will look at you like you are speaking Greek!

    Also, I got out off of the stock market FOR EVER during the dot com bust and invested in real estate, gold, and high end collectibles and antiques. The stock market cant touch my earnings.TANGLIBLE ASSETS are the best way to go.

    avatar Veronica says:

    I also wanted to quickly share a VERY scary experience I recently had on FB.

    I live in a very remote region, in the mountains of NC and suddenly this summer, the new 27 year old manager at our ski slope presented our town council with a family oriented music festival event. We all agreed,ok. It turned out to be a RAVE and 5,000 kids on X turned up for three long days and nights. The local sheriffs office had to call in ALE and over 200 drug trafficking arrests were made that made Hunter Thompson look like a joke.

    I made the huge mistake of posting my dislike for this event on the music sites’ FB page. Businesses here were thrilled at the boost in their sales and home rentals and I thought it was dead wrong to profit from any event that promotes illegal drug use. Hell, we all know what RAVES are about!

    Me, with all my experience online, forgot that my FB page is linked to my business page, which is linked to my website, where my home phone number and home address is located.

    Some Ravers, who were defending Raves and illegal drug use, put my phone number on Rave sites and I had to unplug the phone. After calling the sheriff,he got my line tapped so they could track everyone calling and making threats.

    I had loaded guns at every door in the house. I hired off duty cops for 24 hour security for 2 weeks. I had to take down everything I had online and only after 2 weeks did the moderators of the wesbites remove my personal info, but Im sure only after they were contacted directly by police.

    I have also LOST many life long friends on FB becuase I liked or commented on political or religous posts.The best way to loose friends and business associtates is to talk about money, religon, or politics. I have always known this… but I got lost in Cyber World.

    Let my mistake be a lesson to all. If you have anything negative to say online, or want to talk about anything other than the beautiful flowers in your garden this year or a recipe you just found, be prepared for the consequences.

    avatar Kim Jones says:

    I have been selling on the net since 2008. I have tried and tried EVERYTHING Social Media had to offer. The sites would change their methods, I would change. It took time and JOY away from my business…honestly, I think it HURT my business by sidetracking my energy towards Social Media.

    I agree, Social Media is a HOAX and the less you are involved in it…the better.

    I too have a Google+ account, I really don’t see where that gets me other than more time away from my business…twitter included.

    When are WE going to stand up on our own two feet and make money the old fashion way – person to person, word of mouth. I really don’t feel that these so called “social sites” are the answer.

    avatar J&J says:

    Well, We are a small business and get quite a lot of traction from our facebook page, we share new jewelry designs, and receive lots of comments and feedback from our clients, which would never happen on our website. It really depends on the business model.

    avatar Mike Andrew says:

    Great article Marilyn, I agree with you totally, I also fail to understand why my clients and those I work with push Facebook so much, at the detriment to their own brand and web site.

    Whilst it may work for some clients, we have seen a considerable drop off in referral traffic over the past 12 months,once you get through the noise there appears to be little substance left.

    Good web site SEO and design is essential today, your own web site should be the destination, it is your brand you should be promoting not a URL that pushes Facebook first and foremost.

    avatar Ken says:

    I have read this article with interest along with the many comments. I too will add my voice to the sceptics about Social Media. I have been on the internet since 1995 with a web site for by business in the hospitality industry (a resort). We have the required face-book page and the twitter account. The twitter is a waste of time and we no longer use it. The Face-Book does next to nothing for us , even though we do try to keep it updated. It is the content of our web site that drives our customers here NOT face-book. There are many indistury directories like Trip-advisor who have GREAT influence over the persons who choose to use our services, not a lot of time wasters or Twitter followers or “Face-book likes”. I took a look recently at persons who “likes us” and found over 90% were never going to come to our resort no matter what free offer we had or deal we put together on face book. My advice DO NOT waste your time in social media. Look for influential directories or interest sites to link to our be part of.

    It’s very easy to turn off notifications for all of the social media sites. I manage a dozen clients on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, and I don’t receive any emails, save the weekly report from Facebook. And my clients and I can track greater market share / awareness and revenue through the use of social media. It just requires some time and dedication, and it will pay off!

    avatar Jim Whelk says:

    Bravo, Ms. Bontempo.

    Our advertising agency CheapTVSpots.com used to encourage a mix of traditional media (TV, some radio, outdoor, and print) and social media strategies, to best reach existing and new customers.

    Lately, we have been strongly advising our clients to pull back from the cultural obsession with winning “friends” in social media and refocus on real advertising and marketing via TV and other traditional media — in order to be heard above the noise.

    TV, unlike social media, can be targeted to receptive audiences and provide tangible increases in sales, often for less money than social media campaigns.

    Many companies seek to appear hip, open, and friendly, taking advantage of the purportedly “free” promotional value of the Facebook,Twitter, and other accounts. The seemingly immeasurable time commitment and the risk of negative commentary makes this exercise a wash, at best.

    Businesses that feel a sense of accomplishment in counting up “friends,” “likes,” or “followers” have taken their eyes off the real measure of business success — increased sales, return customers, and a growing list of new customers. People make friends. Businesses make money.

    For a company to prosper, it must first get its own message out — clearly, and without interruption or equivocation. Simply being part of a conversation is just not the same thing.

    The author’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion of using a robot (working for free) to keep up with social media underscores what we’ve all been wondering — that it simply may not be worthy of the hours/dollars spent — and will become even less so, as the social world floods with attempts to dominate an exponentially noisier online conversation.

    avatar Lauren says:

    “I understand the concept and its value in today’s world of search rankings. But you’ve lost me on how it benefits me as a person or business.”

    First, it’s not about search. It’s the opposite of search. It’s innovation marketing and branding.

    Innovation is the ignition point, something so new, people do not yet know about it to search for it. If you devise SM strategies on search logic, campaigns will fail.

    Secondly, the post and comments above are about trying to sell as a marketing strategy. Sales strategies will get your page unliked. It’s 1980s. That objective is misaligned to the purpose and function of SM.

    If you have a true entrepreneurial business – one that solves a market problem (opposed to old-school methods of trying to find target audiences to sell a product/service to), then the market reacts and interacts, spreads the words and grows your business.

    Social media forces an entrepreneurial perspective and approach that is positive, supportive, encouraging and sincerely solves peoples problems. You can’t pull the wool over people eyes in a community environment and cannot sell people something they simply don’t need or want.

    if social media is not working for you, go to a few offline functions, meet random new people and see how many buy from you or recommend you to other people who buy. You’ll see social media is not the problem, it’s your perspective which flows in to how you communicate.

    Stop blaming social media; adjust your perspective and objectives and quit complaining. No one wants to buy from a whinger.

    Btw – have you noticed how your post has generated over 80 written responses? I found this post through social media.

    I get 99% of sales from Facebook. YES 99%.

    You have a tremendous amount of control over what notifications Facebook sends you. The amount of emails you are getting is your fault not Facebook’s. Just open it up and tell it what you do or do not want to have an email about… If dumb me can figure that out than so can anyone.

    Wow! It’s difficult to take your article seriously when you blurt out that you don’t know how to turn off Facebook and Twitter alerts and you actually spent money on Facebook stock.

    It’s no wonder you’re not having any success with Social Media Marketing, you obviously believe all you have to do is “promote.” You just don’t get it.

    I don’t have a huge following on Facebook or Twitter but on some days they account for a third of my traffic, and I’m talking about thousands of page views per day here.

    Social media marketing takes time and effort. You have to become a part of the community, not just a link broadcaster. You have to connect and converse. And again, obviously you don’t understand FB or you’d know it’s very easy to find the right people to connect with.

    If you don’t have the time to build a community in the social networks, that’s one thing. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And you obviously haven’t tried it.

    avatar Ricky Wilson says:

    Social Media is mostly for Social Connection, some businesses are Social in nature and FB helps, but for the vast majority of Business, a Waste of Time ( Money ). I would question the Web Sites Businesses that produce little results, while FB works for them, with WHY it is so. It could be a deficient web site of poor design, writing and SEO and be stagnant. FB is “Fake Book” to me , with all the embellishments people project that are virtual lies.
    I have seen many business owners that cannot quantify , qualify or specify their own business results. Branding requires ROI, Entrepreneurial Perspective needs ROI, conversion of “friends ” to “customers” is required ( ROI ) for progression with FB. Just as Jerry Meguire is asked ” SHOW ME THE MONEY” . I would ask, ” Show me the ROI ” . Of course I believe that any person is LUCKY to count “FIVE TRUE FRIENDS ” on just one hand, so the “Friending” is Fake to Me from the ” Get-Go”. ROI requires businesses to quantify and qualify results. With a business that does 99% of revenue from FB, I would alert them to the FACT that 1% of their business is NOT FB and they are deficient with other media. If a business only gets 1% response in revenue from sources other than FB or ANY Media, they should look at their failure to find success. The failure may be what some consider success with FB and skewed results from only one source that drives their business. The FB market is a small part of the total market available and a hard market to convert ” Friends ” to ” Customers”. The ROI does not LIE.

    avatar Mimi says:

    I was so glad to read your article. We raise and sell all natural grass-fed beef, and although a small family ranch/business, we obviously strive to reach as many potential customers as possible, with what time I have available to sit in front of the computer (read: as little as possible!) I have struggled with the Facebook phenomenon, or “craze” as I prefer to call it. I just don’t get it, why people want to put out there for anybody to read about their daily lives, but then maybe I am being old fashioned, and so be it. I treasure the solitude of the ranch while I do enjoy the company and visits of friends, real friends. Although I did create a facebook page for the business, JX Ranch Natural Beef, I don’t see much benefit to it, and I certainly don’t have time or inclination to spend my days posting comments, unless I have something of value to say. I have been afraid that I am leaving us in the dust, by not being a facebooker or twitter (never even been there) or Google pluser, so I am so relieved to see I am not alone in this view. What a crazy world we live in, when all communications are done texting and through facebook. Thank you again for a good and encouraging article! Mimi

    avatar ckinsobe says:

    I personally love using social media for my business. If you do it right it is not that time consuming since you can use programs such as Hootsuite to post simultaneously to multiple sites, or even tweak FB to also post each FB post to twitter.

    You can have a FB pro page and not use your personal profile at all, your pro FB page customers will not have access to your personal page. You can also set up FB to NOT email you each notification, this is just basic. Once you set up your presence across multiple sites it requires very little effort to do updates and you get your name out there on multiple platforms. It is up to you to then get people to click through to your site to purchase or come to your B & M location. I have a YouTtube channel, Twitter, FB and Pinterest,Etsy and I cross promote on each one of them. I use social media to promote our events, new merchandise, announce sales etc. it is a cost effective (free!) way to get your name and info out there. In the old days you’d have to pay big bucks for basic exposure via print media, and often those ads brought very little in return and. How can it hurt to have your name out there when it is free and if you do it right relatively easy? For those who tell of nightmare stories, I believe you need to be more careful of how you create your profiles and what is visible where.

    avatar dm13 says:

    As a few people have already stated, you dont seem to understand the basics of social media like turning off Facebook notifications, or engagement vs broadcasting for clients. Also, you dont seem to understand marketing. Having your clients tweet inspirational tweets a few times a day is definitely not going to gain them product purchase. Social media marketing is still marketing – the social relates to word of mouth by your loyal customer base. Twitter may not suit all businesses, but a serious business should at very least have a Facebook page to represent their product and point to a website.

    avatar Ricky Wilson says:

    The Social Media Tribe just does NOT understand MARKETING. They are lost in Social Contact with Poor Measurement Concepts. I would suggest that the Social Media Tribe is Clueless when it comes to time and money in Marketing Results. Social Media produces very little value in EVERY Marketing Survey that has ever been properly constructed with Marketing Measurement Concepts. SHOW ME THE MONEY … Talk is Cheap with the Social Tribe. Free as a matter of FACT to them !!! But Free is NOT Free for me,as they would state, because time is money for me, but worthless for them. Wasting your time and money without significant measurable results and not understanding Marketing ROI is a failure in Marketing and the Measurements required for Success. Social Media has been an EPIC failure at this juncture in Marketing. HYPE comes to Mind. More Likely The Social Media Tribe is ” Ahead of the Times ” and the Marketing Results are Yet to prove effective beyond the HYPE. Read the “Social Media HYPE Cycle” and then you will have a better understanding, to get measurable Marketing results from Social Media.

    http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/a-hype-cycle-view-social-media/237124/

    For the writers and authors out there, it would be great if the publishers and marketing people would understand this. Authors get pushed to spend incredible amounts of time promoting and building platforms. Publishers want a social media platform before taking on a new client. Even in that industry, the value is negligible from what I have found, especially since most of the people using those tools have no technical skills and no idea how to “make it work” or analyze the results.

    I totally agree. In the end it’s all about selecting the right media and target market. Just keep with your old marketing lessons and do not get distracted by the hype of something with large member numbers. What is the use of 500M members of they are not your target market?
    I always suggest my clients to follow the old lessons. They still count. If you have a product that does well B2C and has a probability to go viral between consumers than Facebook is your media. If your targets are professionals and your product is professional then LinkedIn is better and so on.

    Hello Marilyn,
    Finally, I find someone who speaks what I have been bottling up for over a year. As a creative writer, I am forced to market everything from a slogan to content on social media channels for my clients. There are times when I forget creativity because I need to check on links and re-tweet and so on. I understand the necessity but it is blown completly out of proportion and the time spent in doing it always cannot be justified in terms of conversion. I am happy that someone finally said it loud in the open.

    I thank you sincerely.

    Hi Marilyn, I completely agree… what is the solution? I’m a small e-commerce business owner and would like to know how you could help me.

    Cheers!

    Dinesh, The Spicy Gourmet

    Social media is for consumers. Business people don’t waste their time sharing photos and playing FarmVille.

    Social media is nothing but a pool of consumers when you need to make money you advertise your products and services.

    Consumers job is to create contents and business people’s job is to make money out of it. everyone is happy.

    No one had become rich because of their SEO tactics. Advertising works instantly and effectively. Invest time in learning how squeeze the last bit of every advertising technique is the way to go.

    I wasted a lot of time charging after facebook and twitter then it downed on me. I’m a businessman why I’m acting like a consumer? Then I sat down and learned how to build a momentum from advertising in one place and make it go around all social media websites and more.

    On Facebook give people a good offer and they will happily click that like button.

    There’s nothing wrong with Facebook or Twitter. The problem is when business people go out of their ways just to save few bucks.

    Thank you Marilyn for being brave about it and sharing your findings with the world.

    avatar Rubel Bogra says:

    Thank you for a very informative blog. What else could I get that kind of information written in such a perfect way?
    I have a mission that I am just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such infosocial media craze

    avatar Ian Smith says:

    While I would have agreed with you 12 months ago – I must confess to having joined the socialsphere!
    I am now suitably convinced that the system does work – BUT find the right ‘bits’ for small businesses and therefore optimising time-spent is the big challenge.

    avatar Johnny says:

    I definitely agree with some of the other sentiments regarding Facebook’s New Feed. Even when using FB for business purposes, you often get flooded with posts that aren’t related to your product or business and it can be hard to sort through it all.

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