Social Media Marketing Has Its Limits

This past weekend I went to a local seminar on motivation. I don’t get to things like this all that often, but every once in a while it’s a good thing to go hear someone else talk on a subject that you also talk about because, when all is said and done, even those who motivate others sometimes need a bit of motivation as well.

It wasn’t a bad turnout, but the group was very diverse, to the point that I’m not exactly sure the presenters got who they hoped to get to come. Still, it was an interesting day, and I got out of it what I think I needed to get out of it. I knew one of the presenters, and had seen enough pictures of the other presenter that I felt I knew her as well.

During the seminar, when it was my turn to speak the lady that I knew threw out a statement saying that maybe I hide behind my social media activities when it comes to doing business. I agreed with her on that, although in my mind I was thinking how I have so many more connections through social media than I do live. But she continued by saying that we should talk after the seminar and I quickly agreed.

When it was over she and I walked across the street to a park and sat down on one of the stone benches. She then told me that out of all the people that had shown up, I was the only one that had come because of social media. She had put out the event on Facebook, and out of the nine people that said they were coming, I was the only one that actually did. Everybody else who was in the room was the result of either a book signing that she did or came because of a couple presentations she had put on locally and mentioned it.

In one way I was shocked, but in another way I wasn’t. I ran into the same thing last year when I tried to promote a local four hour seminar that I was going to put on. I reached out to all of my social media contacts, and I reached out to an overwhelming majority of other people through e-mail. In the end, I had to cancel because I only had one person who had signed up for.

At the same time, there was another event last Friday I found out about that was being held at a hotel about 10 minutes away from me. The guy who worked at the hotel had put it up on Facebook, but really hadn’t invited anybody. So I went through the process of inviting a great number of people who I knew lived in the area, many of whom I knew wouldn’t be able to come but I wanted to give them the opportunity. Just by doing that at least 9 or 10 people showed up that wouldn’t have if I hadn’t reached out to them on Facebook.

Still, her point was valid. Even though social media is the fastest growing medium for people to connect with each other, there’s still something about face-to-face communications that seems to help to encourage people to interact more with you. It might be because, though social media is easy to say something to make someone feel good, just as it’s easy for people to say bad things because they’re hidden, they can say something and not have to follow through. In being truthful, I hadn’t decided I was going to the seminar until the Monday before, even though I had known about it for three weeks. I had put a “maybe”, which is mainly a noncommittal way of saying no, before changing my mind.

Social media marketing is definitely an important thing that all of us need to get used to. But at this point in the decade it’s still not strong enough to really get people juiced up to do anything. You might be able to get people to come to your website, or to read an article or blog post you’ve written, but getting them to take action is still going to be really tough to do. We all need to acknowledge that in order to figure out ways of getting people’s attention, especially if we have as an intention the hopes that we will possibly generate some kind of income from our actions.

How do you see your social media marketing initiatives going?

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31 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing Has Its Limits”

  1. Hi Mitch. Firstly, great site. It’s my first time here. As far as the article goes, I totally agree with the header. i think that it does have it’s limits. Especially when people flood social streams without providing something worth reading or looking at.

    1. You’re right Michelle, that’s probably one of the big issues with social media. Then again, sometimes you’re never quite sure what kind of thing someone will go for whenever you share a link.

  2. Interesting, I think I agree except when I thought of the overturned governments through social media.
    I did recently receive a birthday invitation via Facebook and noticed days before the event the person reached out to everyone again. So I’m seeing both sides of the coin on this one. Love to hear more from others too.

    1. Interesting input Lisa. What you mentioned wasn’t really social media marketing, which is why I didn’t count it. Sure, movements can happen through social media, and of course we learn things quicker through some social media outlets. But the marketing piece doesn’t work as well unless you’re already well known. At least I’ve yet to hear anyone really talk much about their successes.

      But it doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep trying.

  3. Based from my experience, I’d still prefer to be invited personally. There are times when I ignore event invites in Facebook or sometimes, I’m not really too convinced to go. I guess if I was invited personally, it would have made a bigger difference.

    1. Sara, do you mean invited personally through social media or having someone call you up, or being at an event and having someone tell you? There are those people who invite folks on Facebook to events that are local but the people aren’t; that’s irksome. I always make sure to only invite people to local things if they’re in the area, but one day when I start doing more webinars then all bets are off. lol

  4. I’ve observed that among the young generations, invitations via social media works really well with them. I guess it’s because they’re more active in social media sites (Facebook) than the older ones. And aside from that, I’ve also observed that it’s impossible to take them away from the internet, it’s like their lives are connected to it.

  5. I spoke about this at a recent conference, and my conclusion is the same as yours. Most people prefer to be acknowledged with a personal invitation, it makes us feel important and respected. When it’s generic it’s easy to think ‘oh well someone else will be there, I don’t need to make an effort”.

    I’m bombarded daily with invitations to this, that and the other and I know the invitations could be going to hundreds or thousands of others and I’m less likely to make a commitment than with a personal invite.

    1. Sue, I don’t get as many invitations, but I do get some blanket ones that I just ignore. But it doesn’t mean I ignore them all, kind of like the seminar I went to on Saturday. Still, it probably says more about me and being up for more social media connections and events than many other people my age might be.

  6. From all my projects and client projects I have promote on social media, it seems that different niche benefits much differently and the strategy might be completely different. Well, it seems that location based services and products suffers, but digital downloads seems to do very well and there are no limitations. Only once I tried to create an event and promote it on social media, well actually we cancelled the event, but I think may be 8 or 9 people confirmed.

      1. That’s right and the best way to achieve success is with massive social media marketing campaign. Most professionals are limit it to few of the top social networks, but from my personal experience I have found that it really worthy to try most. Right now there is a boom of niche based social networks which can drive niche traffic, beating the big boys, including Google.

  7. I do not think social media is good for events. To date, I get more feel good messages and group re-tweets on Twitter than actual content. However, the encouragement and support is great. There is a downside. I look forward to tweets from former strangers more than text messages from people I know.

    My time spent on social media has yet to translate into dollars. However, I hope that changes with my book. We’ll see.

    1. I’m pulling for you on this one Marcie, for more than one reason. lol As to the other, you’re right, it’s always a pleasant surprise hearing from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile. Then again, I always like when anyone talks to me. πŸ™‚

  8. I think that Facebook and other social media really do spread the word about the events, but the reply to the invitation is, somehow, not that binding than the one face to face. So, it’s not that it doesn’t’ have its advantage but it’s not that powerful.

  9. I think the only thing people show up for when promoted on social media is parties. I remember this one kid who advertised that he was having a party on Facebook because his parents were away, Apparently hundreds of people showed up who then trashed the party and a little of the neighbourhood πŸ˜€

    1. Sire, I knew that was a movie, but did that happen for real? Actually, Lisa might have gotten it right earlier when she stated that it seems younger people are more apt to respond to social media marketing because in a way they grew up with it, while the rest of us are still kind of skeptical.

  10. Enjoyed this. I think with networking/building relationships in person there’s more of a lasting impression, especially when you find that common ground or connection. Or you find a way to really serve that person.

    You can, of course, achieve that online as well, but there’s something about eye contact, a handshake, etc.

    I’ve made too many meaningful connections online, so I know that will always be a a great way to connect and serve others, but we should definitely take a brake sometimes, and get out there in person.

    1. That’s true Denise. The thing about social media is that its reach is so vast that it gets us believing the numbers that can be generated will be substantial. They could be, but then we have local events and in that case it could be harder getting people to come.

  11. Hi Mitch,

    As you know, I’m creating a location-based directory for small businesses in my area. Conventional wisdom says to ply the social media avenues, but I know better.

    Your article confirms my own thinking that “face-to-face” will yield better quality results. For this reason, I expect the directory to grow slowly as I take the time to have the in-person meetings, attend local events, talk to people on the TELEPHONE, and network the old-fashioned way.

    Of course, social media plays a role, but it is only one of many tools. Like you said (in so many words), the times are a-changing, but they ain’t changing *that* fast!

    1. Great point Vernessa. Social media will get the word out, but it might take other interactions to get the action going. It’s too bad, but that’s how it seems to be right now.

  12. The problem is talk is cheap and ‘friends’ are disposable in the Social Media world. Its all too easy to hit all your friends on Facebook with an invite to something which they then add to the 100 or so other event invites hitting their inboxes. Ive got 100s of ‘friends on my Facebook account and I’ve no idea who most of them are or what they do, they are just people that add me on a daily basis.

    People in person develop relationships through personality traits and chemistry so I just cant see how social media is ever going to replace that.

    I automatically post from my blog to a Facebook page and rarely unless I prompt them do people bother to drop likes or comments.

    On one hand you cant ignore social media and on another it takes an awful lot of effort to grab peoples attention.

    1. You’re right Peter. I don’t get much interaction with either my personal or business page on Twitter, and the same goes for LinkedIn. Twitter works in getting people to talk to me but for business, it’s not going to get it done for a very long time.

  13. Social media which includes Facebook and Twitter in huge demand now a days are best to bring high traffic however we must need to do other tactics also for raking our blog high and only traffic does not counts in this scenario. great input fully agree with your main headline.

    1. Actually Reeha, I might debate you on that traffic thing because I’m not sure those drive much traffic anywhere. However, one can’t give up on social media to make connections, whether it drives traffic or not. We all just have to realize its limitations.

  14. You’re conspicuous by your absence if you don’t have a social media presence.

    Has SM helped me with business? On the whole, I would say yes. I’ve found clients and them me, because of this new electronic click world we live in.

    In fact, if it weren’t for you Mitch, I might have never started blogging. I remember you saying “Steve, you’ve got experiences and lots to say. There are people out there that can benefit from what you have to say.” Thanks Mitch. My blog has helped me connect with my audience.

    In regards to marketing, you need to use multiple avenues. Tweets, posts, emails, blogs, direct mail (which is coming back btw), and good old fashioned phone calls. You never know how people will find out about you or your event.

    Now, as you mentioned, I would have never known about the DoubleTree event if it weren’t for your invite post on Facebook. I wonder how many learned about that event via social media?

    I’m amazed how our world has changed. I started out in the technology biz back in 1982 selling the Apple IIe. Now we walk around with hand held devices that connect us with the world. Amazing, isn’t it?

    1. Yes it is amazing Steve, and you’re right, we do have to use all mediums in figuring out our marketing strategy. Social media has its place, and it has a great reach, but it’s also limited because there’s a lot of folks who still haven’t grasped social media and what it can do for them, especially in some industries I’m trying to market to. I’ve also gotten clients via social media, but not close to enough. Thanks for your perspective, and of course keep blogging because you’re good at it. πŸ™‚

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