Two Biggest Issues With Social Media Marketing

Since I wrote a post on the topic of social media and ROI, I’ve been thinking a lot about the problems associated with social media marketing in general. Some might have thought that I covered it with my post this past Saturday talking about the dangers of social media, but I didn’t. Matter of fact, that was geared more towards individuals; now it’s time to talk about the problems businesses have.

by Phillie Casablanca via Flickr

I believe there are two major problems with social media marketing; those are:

1) getting the message wrong

2) being ignored

For any other issue that one might come up with, these are the two biggest problems to date. I never touched upon the second one when I did the outline for my social media marketing seminar back in 2010, and barely touched upon the first one. That’s because I’m usually concentrating on educating people as to what social media is in the first place, not getting much into the details of it. I like to think I know something about social media marketing, but every once in awhile I have an epiphany and realize that I’ve just scratched the surface.

Getting The Message Wrong

Let’s get into it. We’ll start with the first premise, that being getting the message wrong. Man, is it easy to mess up. Just ask McDonald’s, which tried to have a Twitter media campaign asking people to use a certain hashtag telling the world why they love McDonald’s. The problem is that not everyone likes McDonald’s, or wants to own up to it, and thus there were a lot of negative responses that hijacked the hashtag and brought a modicum of embarrassment. A representative said the negative comments only amounted to 2% of comments overall but no one believes that. And even if it’s true, then McDonald’s still lost because the media has already spread the word; bad publicity isn’t always better than no publicity at all.

from Huffington Post

The problem sometimes comes from thinking you know your market when you don’t. I don’t hate McDonald’s, but I hear a lot of people putting down their food, although many of those same people will scarf down a box of fries if they got one; those things are tasty. Setting it up as a Twitter campaign to promote your company when you know there’s a lot of negative press about you from time to time (who hasn’t read this story nor seen the picture next to this paragraph about their chicken?) probably isn’t one of the smartest moves in the world. And they paid someone to create this campaign for them; they should have known better.

Late last year there was a campaign from the makers of Ragu (my favorite spaghetti sauce by the way) that seemed to make fun of the cooking skills of fathers and faced a major backlash about it. Truthfully, I thought it was a lot of fuss about nothing, but it was a fuss and the company ended up having to apologize to fathers for it.

This kind of thing happens all the time, and it doesn’t have to be this big. There was a woman whose book got a bad review on Amazon and she went after the person who wrote that review, only angering a constituency that hadn’t reviewed her book online because they’d thought it was horribly written and edited and just didn’t want to make a fuss, and once they mobilized and wrote all the negative reviews you can imagine the woman pretty much disappeared, with her book eventually averaging just barely over 1 star. Yes, social media can be deadly indeed.

Being Ignored

If getting the message wrong is a major problem, a problem just as bad is being ignored. Some time ago I wrote a post saying that social media marketing is just marketing. As true as that is, I didn’t expand it further at the time, mainly because I hadn’t thought about it.

When you watch your favorite programs on TV, what do you notice during the commercials? You notice that you see the same commercial over and over. During most sporting events on TV, you’ll often see the same commercial at every break. This year the big commercials seem to be from Papa John’s, who’s sponsoring the Super Bowl. The point isn’t that they’re paying millions to do that; the point is that they’re making sure their message gets across by popping it up there every 3 or 4 minutes on multiple channels to make sure we all get the message.

Let’s think about our social media marketing processes. I wrote about our reluctance to market ourselves, and it probably needs to be modified to say our reluctance to over-market ourselves. Indeed, if you read the comments on that post, you’ll see people admitting that they hate marketing themselves, instead spending a lot of time promoting others with the expectation that doing it helps to promote themselves. It does, but if one really wanted to earn a significant income, just how much marketing and self promotion via social media would we have to do?

The short answer; a lot. During my recent short period of pitching my request for a Shorty Award nomination I started retweeting that request every couple of hours. I did that for maybe 4 days before I started feeling self conscious about it; I even had it up here as a sticky post for that time period before putting it back into regular circulation.

That campaign only got me 26 overall votes, and what’s funny about it is how people said they never saw it; are you kidding me? I put it on Twitter, I put it on Facebook, I wrote about it on two other blogs. Yet that’s all I got; with a lot of people saying they never saw it, and I bet there are people right now who will say they never saw it.

The same thing happened when I was marketing my 2010 live presentation locally. I thought I was putting my message out there often, over many weeks, yet not only was the turnout not what I expected it to be, but when I mentioned it to people less than a month after it ended they said “I didn’t know you were doing that”. How often can one legitimately put their message out there?

One of the biggest complaints many of us have about some of the people we see marketing through social media is that they’re always promoting themselves over and over, to the extent that we’re sick of them and we stop following them. I’m one of those people, yet I’m starting to realize that if I ever really want to make money via social media marketing, or get better known so that I will get more consulting gigs or requests to speak at paid gigs that putting out the occasional marketing post probably isn’t going to get it done. And that doesn’t bode well for someone, whether it’s me or someone following me. People will do what people need to do to make money, and whether you or I like it or not if those people make money by those means, who are we to say they don’t have the right to make a living?

Those of us hoping for positive things out of our social media presence and social media marketing have to decide what it is we really want to do to reach our goals. I haven’t decided yet, but I’m still leaning towards not being too much of a pest. But maybe I can be slightly pesty, if that’s a word; I’m not sure. An interesting question is whether I’d do it for a client that asked for it. I’d have to answer that with an affirmative, which means we’re back to an old Redd Foxx joke, where the punch line is “we’re just arguing over the price”. One of these days, if prodded enough, I might tell the rest of that joke. 🙂

Meanwhile, think about it; what would it take for you to decide to put yourself out there more in social media, and just what would that mean?

28 thoughts on “Two Biggest Issues With Social Media Marketing”

  1. Hi Mitch,

    Social media marketing is one of the best thing to expand your business world-wide. I am totally agree with you that careful strategy is the most important element to get maximum traffic. Your tips are very helpful for beginners in this industry. Interaction is the main part to jump up traffic to your business.

    Social media marketing is growing day by day and it is playing a vital role in the development of business. All the points you mentioned are very effective interaction with people will help a lot in the growth of a business because after getting there trust one can easily promote or sale product.

    Thanks for sharing such a knowledge with us.

    1. No problem John. Whether one is using social media for business or pleasure, doing something stupid will get you grief and it lasts forever online. If you’re a business, it’s crucial to have some kind of plan, even if it’s a sketchy one. If you’re just someone who likes to interact with others online, there still needs to be a modicum of discretion because unless you know someone in person, you never really know what someone else might be like. It takes time to really get to know someone every once in awhile, and I don’t think enough people take the time they should.

  2. Mitch, as you know, I’ve taken a different approach. We must learn to stop waiting for Social Media Permission. You can no more make a person vote for you or buy your book than you can make grass grow.

    But you can plant seeds.

    The problem I had with Twitter and Facebook is that I joined for the PERSONAL benefits. Later, after much reading and following of “experts”, I tried to retroactively shoehorn marketing into the mix.

    Basically, throwing seeds upon the concrete sidewalk.

    I slowly learned that what works for some is not necessarily going to work for me. I looked at all the naysayers and bad-mouthers and nodded in agreement. I initially had some negative things to say as well, but I told myslef that it’s not cool to belittle the tactics just because I might not understand how to duplicate them.

    Instead of feeding into the naysaying, I left the arena. When I came back, I had a new game plan: use one account for personal stuff, use other accounts for business-related messages.

    It may not be the best system, or even a good one but, it’s my yard and I get to put the seeds in the soil.



    1. Hey Mitch,

      At least you came back with a plan. I don’t have a written plan but I have my manner of how I use social media and I’ve shared it often on this blog. Those who fit in with what I want to do get to play with me; those that don’t… well, I just ignore them and move on. The thing about social media is that there’s no right way to do things, but there certainly are a lot of wrong ways to do it, and people will let you know when you do it wrong. In the long run, we all get to decide how we want to proceed and use social media, and hopefully those of us with some kind of goal will be able to attain that goal.

  3. Social media is very powerful, but have always being a bit different that general marketing campaign. I mean that if you see 10 commercials a day on TV, probably you will see 100 different requests on social media and your are right, most will be ignored. One other thing conversion from social media is very low for about 80% of all business nice. It is so difficult to convert those exposures and views into customers or followers and the reason is quite obvious, lets take Facebook – people are there to communicate with friends. That’s why the best approach is to be social and engaging with other people, even never met them in person.

    1. Carl, that’s kind of why I wrote this particular post. Someone’s figured out how to make a lot of money via social media, and we have to ask two questions; one, how’d they do it and two, should we do it. We never know what will go viral but when those things do, the originator doesn’t have to do anything because others will pick up the cause and spread the word; it’s kind of what I hope eventually happens with my Friday series. When things don’t go viral it means that we might have to manufacture it in some fashion. Some will post something a lot of times, others, I’m sure, will hire someone on Fiverr to do it for them, which I find repugnant. When it’s all about the money, people will sometimes do whatever they need to make the almighty dollar.

      1. About 3 years ago, I’ve made a video for Youtube made by photographs, it was related for one particular destination in the world, it hit 300k visits in less than 3 months. After that I’ve made research and I found out that it is not the video that had impressed the viewers – it was the music. Your new section have the potential, as it includes partial key phrase “Black Friday”, at least for one particular part of the year, I suppose that you may expect to hit million visits and it is quite possible good percent of those visitors to become loyal readers, as you always offer good content.

      2. Me? One million visits? Carl, I don’t see myself as getting that kind of traffic any time soon, but hitting even 1,000 visits a day would be pretty sweet. However, talk about confusion; according to my host I’m hitting that and more on this site. Traffic stats can be so weird!

      3. It is quite possible to hit this number as everybody would search for “Black Friday” around the time of Thanksgiving and as you have already established a category long before this time, most likely Google will pick your website. About your web host log file, that’s definitely the accurate number, not everytime GA javascript code can kick, however the server log stat programs like AWStats record every hit.

      4. Really Carl? I’ve never understood why Google always seems to under count things when we have the code on every single page. They must not consider certain things are legitimate hits or visits, but that’s just so strange.

      5. It isn’t Google to blame. JavaScript is client side script which is executed by browser, sometimes for some reasons, there can be temporary glitch in browser support or browser may not support JavaScript (some does not for example mobile platforms) another case is when a spammer is trying to access your website or comment using software. That’s why numbers in GA are lower compared to server log data.

  4. I’ve decided not to invest not even 5 minutes with social media in general. No matter how much I tried and how many methods I used it didn’t work, it just didn’t do it for me. To much work for such little payouts, why bother all together?
    I’ve just learned to focus on what works at the moment as well as always looking for new methods that actually work.

    1. Actually Cristian, you are participating in social media just by commenting on this blog and by writing your own blog. As I was telling Sire, if just one person shares our link on Twitter or somewhere else then we’re part of social media, the original part. So this means that what you write on your blog puts you out there as much as if you were on Twitter or Facebook, probably moreso since it’s your words unfiltered.

  5. I believe that social media marketing is one of the best way to improve your investments through out the globe. A great stratagem will help you get maximum traffic. Your points were very clear and beginners like me can use it a lot.

    Thanks for the information.

    Amber Lee

  6. I agree with you about being ignored. Your talking about the same problem on any platform in any type of communication – be it social media, email marketing, whatever.

    I now use Twitter, FB and You Tube and find the vast majority of traffic is not interested so its either my messages not getting across or there is simply to much ‘noise’

    How many groups do you get invited to on FB? How often do those groups then do something almost daily trying to flog you something? This is where they become annoying.

    Promoting will only ever get anyone so far – I think the art is being able to turn yourself into a source of authority by providing good solid content at defined intervals is probable whats needed then some viewers may become customers.

    Apart from that I think social media should be used to engage with visitors rather than promote – its a v diffcult art, I think I know what needs doing but making it work is v difficult and time consuming, I think twitter is good though because you can schedule tweets and answer replies later.

    In all if I continue to not be happy with my social media efforts I think I’ll do a crash course of psychology because the fundemental question to all this I believe is how do you position yourself to be the entity that fulfills everyones WIIFM needs?

    Hope you like my new gravatar LOL!

    1. Peter, I do like the new gravatar! 🙂

      Actually, I don’t have a problem with there being marketing via social media because people and companies need to be where the people are. We of course have our ways of opting out of some of it while ignoring the rest. For someone like me, the marketing is quite subtle and indirect, which doesn’t help me much but fits my sensibilities fine for now. Still, I like the sociability when I can get it, which is often. And strangely enough, I don’t get a lot of requests to join FB pages, although I have found myself added to some with this new thing that I didn’t even know existed, let alone asked for, and most of those I immediately leave.

  7. I totally agree about the power of social networks! But I believe that not very aggressive and balanced approach is more likely to succeed.

  8. When we work on ways to try to catch the attention of others we either resort to stepping on others people’s toes and getting on their nerves – although sometimes unintentionally – or just promote ourselves shamelessly whenever we can. I noticed that on fb there seems to be a timing involved when you post something whether a status or a picture. If I do it on a Friday or Saturday I get almost no likes. But when I pose it on a Sunday, I get tons of them up until Monday. So aside from making sure you are being politically correct, timing and studying your target market matters as well.

    1. That’s interesting stuff Reese, but you’re right, for some things timing does seem to have a great impact on effectiveness. As to the rest, well that’s the major dilemma isn’t it? I’ve asked here and there how far people are willing to go to make money. I think shows like Fear Factor and Survivor have pretty much answered that.

  9. I think that McDonald’s campaign in Twitter is very demonstrative example of the situation when people don’t formulate the message correctly or other people understand the message wrong

    1. I think you’re right Amanda. Major corporations have to know that there’s always someone that doesn’t like them, so getting their marketing message out properly is delicate, but it can be done.

  10. Hi Mitch,

    Social media is a great tool to improve your business but relying your business with it is not a good idea. I think social network should be just and aid and you must have other techniques to for your business. This problems that you have shown us are all true and most of the businessmen are suffering this things.

  11. I think getting ignored is a big potential problem. These days there is so much noise on social media platforms that its easy for people to miss your message. A lt of platforms have fast moving updates, so that your posts, tweets, or messages just fly off the screen as soon as they are posted. Also, it’s getting harder and harder to separate the noise from the legitimate posts.

Comments are closed.