The Problem With Social Media Marketing

Filed as Editorial on February 10, 2011 8:04 am

I’ve been immersed in some form of Social Media for the past 5 years. My latest experience; working with Social Media Marketing both interested and disappointed me. The potential of networking is amazing but it’s all moot if you have nothing worth sharing and you come off as a pitch man.

The biggest problem I have with Social Media Marketing is just that, marketing. I’ve always used Social Media as a way to discover and share content not to promote, push or publicize a company or a product. Making the switch from “I like sharing and creating content to create a positive impact” to “I need to make what I do turn a profit through marketing!?” was radical for me. I felt like going from a hippie to a cleaned up suit wearing executive in one job interview; it wasn’t comfy.

But I avoided the marketing aspects as much I could. I experimented with many different methods of bridging the gap between clients and their target audience, turning 1′s and 0′s in to a 1 and a lot of 0′s after it and increasing site traffic. Experimenting with my approach to Social Media Marketing made me enjoy my work more and more. I like creating content and I got to continue doing that without being labeled a marketer save for any official references to my work.

While I pushed myself to create a community for clients, increase their ROI and drive more traffic to their site, I often times hit a brick wall and I hit it hard. The agency I worked for had massive overheads which trickled down to me. Clients paid a lot and expected results but the hours I had available per month were limited (about 5-25) by overhead. I soon found myself expected to fly to the moon and back but only made it to earth’s orbit. The rigidity of packages sold to clients meant a cookie cutter approach to something that should be unique.

Ultimately I found myself limited by overhead, limited by cookie cutter pricing packages and pressured to achieve results relative the money being spent sans overhead.

Somehow I managed but ran in to another problem: the agency’s cookie cutter packages promised a specific amount of community growth per month. I often missed the bar, I’m not ashamed to say it but I quickly altered my approach and tried again. Time and time again I failed until I realized how intangible Social Media really is. Anyone who can promise a specific – and relatively unrealistic – percentage increase in relevant Twitter followers (not bots) has no idea what they’re really selling. Dabbling in paid Twitter followers and data mining to find so-called “relevant followers” irked me to no end. I found that marketing interfered with my work in a bad way.

“Why can’t we let the community grow naturally instead of recruiting people who don’t care to follow us?”

Unfortunately for me the client’s proposal didn’t say “naturally.” I tried embracing how unpredictable Social Media is by focusing on creating great content coupled with good SEO but was quickly reminded of “the client’s needs” which were artificially created through an unrealistic proposal.

While I quit from the agency for a few reasons, one of which was creative differences, I still gained a lot of valuable knowledge. If you are thinking about Social Media Marketing in any way, don’t. Use Social Media but don’t mix marketing would be my best advice. Let Social Media be natural but keep in mind using it will amplify whatever you’re saying.

If you have nothing worth saying or doing, Social Media isn’t going to help you as much as you want it to.

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