Social media isn’t for everyone

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I know…blasphemy.  If you read the blogs and tweets of many social media proponents, they'll speak of social media like it is the holy grail.  Seek it…find it and all your marketing woes will be gone.

I don't think it's anywhere near that simple. 

Don't get me wrong — I still believe in the value and power of social media.  But I also believe:

  • There are levels of involvement and not everyone should do a deep dive
  • It's no magic bullet — we're talking a serious time commitment
  • It does not eliminate the need for traditional media efforts

If you look at this great diagram by Gary Hayes you'll see that there are degrees of involvement that correlate with different activities.

The Consumer:  This is the person/company who actively listens to what is being said online about themselves, their company, their industry etc.  This, I believe is the level that ALL people/companies need to be at.  (check out this great post by Jason Falls about listening)

The Sharer:  This is where you go from reading it to sharing it.  Maybe you tweeting great reads or you have one of those blogs where you just list other blog posts worthy of reading.  You might also be an association or company leader who wants to create word of mouth or keep your team current.  (Word of mouth elevates you as well as what you share.)

The Critic:  I take exception with Haye's label on this one.  Yes, at this level of activity, you might be criticizing something, but I think in most cases you are reacting to something that's been said.  You are adding additional facts, correcting a misperception or asking a follow up question.  (If you're doing a good job at level one (The consumer) you'll be able to respond quickly.)

The Editor:  There's nothing that says you have to create all new content if you want to deep dive into social media.  You could create a site like MarketingProfs that has many authors creating and re-purposing content  or perhaps you belong to a group (like my agency networking group) and everyone writes a little…which adds up to a lot.

The Creator:  This is where many will tell you that you need to be.  It's mandatory.  I think that's rubbish.  In fact, I think most people should not be here.  Why?  Because of the time commitment is huge.  Because there may not be any ROI for your company to be blogging/content creating.  And because most people will start…and then stall.  I'm not saying this isn't a smart strategy.  I'm just saying it's not for everyone.

I believe that everyone needs to be a consumer.  And as a result of actively listening…they can and should be sharing and critiquing when need be.  For many, that's where it should end.  And there's nothing wrong with stopping there.

What do you think?  Should everyone have a blog?  Are we all content creators at heart?

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21 comments on “Social media isn’t for everyone

  1. Leo Bottary says:

    Drew, great post. I agree completely. Social media is not for everyone in the same way direct marketing isn’t for everyone. However, it’s essential for companies to understand the complete range of tools available that can support and strengthen their brands. If social media isn’t for you, no problem. But I would recommend that leaders understand it first before they dismiss it. To eschew social media out of ignorance or fear is irresponsible.

  2. olivier P. Soares says:

    Great post ! I agree that a level of reasonability, and reality needs to be communicated to people looking into, or onto social media !
    It’s not the holy grail, and it doesn’t replace standard marketing effort. But it is a powerfull complement.
    Also believe that not everyone has to be a “Creator” !
    Cheers & Thanks

  3. Leo,

    I think every company has a responsibility to be a listener/consumer. We need to know what’s being said about our company, industry etc.

    The dangers of being completely unplugged are extreme. But, I think for many, that’s plenty deep enough.

    You’re right of course, ignorance is never a good basis for decision making. Although I suspect fear is behind much of the ignorance. It’s not so much that they don’t know, it’s that they’re afraid to know.

    Drew

  4. Oliver,

    I agree…social media is an excellent compliment to other marketing efforts. I obviously, based on my own behavior, believe it’s a potent tool that we can use to great advantage.

    But…like you, I don’t think that means the entire world has to jump on board.

    Drew

  5. Kathy Mills says:

    Great post! I am amazed at people who claim that social media will overtake all other forms of marketing. What a sweeping statement! Social media should be one aspect of an integrated campaign. However, companies definitely shouldn’t ignore it. Not only can they learn a lot from their customers and competitors, they can nip problems quickly. Just look at Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. One gets it. The other? Not so much.

  6. Kathy,

    As a general rule, I think our BS anntennas should go off any time someone claims that any one thing is the new “one size fits all solution for everyone.”

    I think we can all agree that social media tools are very attractive — low cost of entry, easy to use/share, you can build both a sense of intimacy and community when you use them wisely, etc.

    But…no one tool is going to work for every consumer in every situation. That’s why we preach the idea of an integrated campaign.

    We also have to remember that in these tough economic times, people are hungry for a magic bullet. It’s far too easy to offer up social media as that.

    Drew

  7. Nigel Dean says:

    Good post Drew,

    I agree that anyone with a ‘one-size fits all’ comment about pretty much anything will be wrong a lot of the time, and that is true for Social Media. Some people don’t need a blog, in the same way that some people don’t need TV ad’s, or a Call Centre. Each business needs to decide how it could work for them and if it is worth it.

    But I also think that every business should be creating content, whether that is a blog, whitepaper, case study, application note or recipe. It doesn’t need to take up too much time and can give huge benefits. Don’t think of content as a blog or nothing.

    Having said that, still a good overall point and a great post as usual Drew.

  8. I understand and agree with what you are saying here. Social media certainly isn’t for everyone, and it’s important from a resources of time and money aspect to understand what it could bring, if anything!

    Another thing which is often over looked is that Twitter, Facebook etc are no more than tools, to implement a social networking strategy, not the strategy its self. Like you say, you have to have reasons for the social interaction.

  9. Daria says:

    Drew,
    Interesting point of view. I think I agree with most of the point. It’s also true that you need to know your product and your customers, and if your customers are online most of the time, you should also be there. But yes, not every company needs to be a Creator. Our company tries to be one though. I work for a web-based project management software provider and our CEO writes a Project Management 2.0 blog that is marketing free. We believe, that the area we’re operating in has not been thoroughly explored yet and that we can help our customers and other people who are interested in innovating the project management space to understand the new trends here better. It does take a lot of effort to support such a blog though, as we try to publish only high quality content there. As for the traditional marketing means, I recently talked to a fellow marketer, who believes that email marketing campaigns are still very successful. I also recently came across some very interesting stats. Here’s an abstract:
    49%, or 746, of the 1,517 U.S. consumers surveyed indicated they receive permission-based e-mail from retailers. The survey, conducted by ROI Research, finds that:
    56% of recipients of permission-based e-mail from retailers say they are more likely to make purchases from the retailers that they receive e-mails from
    52% say they have a more favorable opinion of the retailers that send them e-mail because of the communications they receive.
    48% say they feel more loyal to retailers and their products as a result of receiving permission-based e-mail.
    So agreed, we should not forget about traditional marketing.

  10. Just from the simple point of Personal Brand, I strongly agree with your point. If you are not willing to put the time into Social Media, just placing a half-a*sed profile on Linkedin or Facebook says more about your Personal Brand than most things would. Thus, if you don’t have the time to put the effort into it, stay away cuase it can do more harm to your brand than good.

  11. Hey Drew –

    Looks like great minds think alike… Although it doesn’t have quite the breakdown your post does, AdAge wrote a similar article on the “Not everyone…” theme… “Not Every CEO Needs to Be a Social-Media Star.” http://tinyurl.com/n2rv24

    Ironic?

    Great information. And I couldn’t agree more. This conversation has been stewing in The Brand Chef’s pot for some time. I’m glad you were there to open it up for conversation.

    Keep Cooking!
    Andrew

  12. Gila says:

    I agree. I’ve been struggling for a long time to figure out how the company I work for could create an effective blog. And, so far, I’ve come to the conclusion that it wouldn’t work to our benefit. Because our audience is not going to be looking for a blog from us. But, we are on Twitter and Facebook. You just have to figure out what makes sense for you or your company.

  13. Hi Drew,

    I think you raise very valid points in this post and the ensuing comments have added value to the conversation. I have several clients right now who are involved with social media but not willing to spend the time needed to create new content for their customers and prospects. Yet they expect social media to deliver streams of new leads to their websites without fresh content.

    Very frustrating. And yet, I understand how hard it is to keep up with blogging (someone recently equated it to adopting a new puppy; using that analogy, I am a terrible pet owner then) because I struggle to regularly update my own blog.

    Thanks for your excellent post. I will now tweet the link to my twitter followers so they can enjoy it as well.

  14. Social media is about people, conversations, friendships, education, and communication. Social media is not a race. If you get over-competitive with people over followers, retweets, and popularity, you lose sight of the communication and learning aspects of social media, and the fun gets sucked right out.

  15. Hi Drew.

    I jumped into social networking with both feet and found Tweeting very daunting. (Who wants to hear what I am doing/thinking?) However, I have found that I learn a lot about clients through LinkedIn and blogging can be simply journaling thoughts and perspectives I find many people can identify with.

    Thanks,

    Lynae

  16. Marcy says:

    I agree. Social media is not for everyone. You need to understand your business’ needs first before you can decide if it is something you need or if you just want to be involved since it’s the new trend. Having said that, I also think that even if it’s not necessarily for you, you should at least familiarize yourself with how it works. Just in case. 🙂

  17. This could be a great item to pass onto my members seeing as we’re in a similar niche. Is it OK if I pass on the url?

  18. Great comments everyone — thank you. You always add such context and real examples to the topic. Every one of you came at the discussion and the use of social media from a different perspective…which is exactly what I am talking about.

    Social media in all its forms are just marketing tools (from a marketing perspective…I recognize they serve more than one function). We each have to decide which tools, which timing and in which combination will help up get to our goals.

    Drew

  19. Matt393 says:

    I think I generally agree with what you’ve said, but social media can also be used for marketing in a way that doesn’t require active engagement with your market in the sense that you have to “keep up” with them. For example, creating a video and uploading it to YouTube, AdWido, Veoh, and so on does not require active engagement, although it would certainly be beneficial to check for feedback once in a while.

  20. Social media is a valuable channel to the extent your buyers are influenced by it. It all boils down to a simple formula: know your buyers, where they go for information and what motivates their buying decision. Then the channels become much clearer.

  21. David,

    And when you put it that way….the “new” marketing sounds a whole lot like the old marketing!

    Drew

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