Why “social media marketing” isn’t really marketing

Image of a facebook business page

A tool for some businesses, but is yours one of them?

Social media marketing: business activity. . . or waste of time?

Have you got a Facebook business page? Did you know that, on average, only 1 in 10 of your followers will see a post from your page?

“Social media marketing” may be a popular term, but the impact on the average business has been less than dramatic. Sure, it makes business owners feel good. But bottom line? Little to no positive impact on the business in the majority of cases.

Why? Quite simply, because “social media marketing” puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. Posting updates on social media shouldn’t be construed as “marketing”. In reality, it’s a form of unpaid, vanity advertising.

Don’t get me wrong — I believe there is a lot of potential in a platform like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to help connect you to potential customers. But calling your posts on Facebook or Twitter “marketing” is an overstatement.

I am more and more convinced that most businesses are wasting time and energy on social media. With the exception of a few entrepreneurs who are a “brand” in and of themselves, the majority of business activity on social media, particularly Facebook, is unfocused and ultimately ineffectual.

And until you can track it, and measure the revenue you generate as a direct consequence of it, don’t call it marketing.

P.S. If you’d like to engage in marketing you can measure, get in touch.

One thought on “Why “social media marketing” isn’t really marketing

  1. Morgan Mitchell


    Great article… definitely one to debate!

    Having worked in PR and digital (“social”) media marketing myself, I’ve noticed that the main goal in both industries is getting your client or client’s product talked about. Whether that’s through a magazine, local newspaper, or on Facebook, I suppose what I’ve learned is the channel through which you target your “could-be consumers” isn’t important; what’s important is how you create your brand image through use of any channel.

    While only 1 in 10 of your followers may see a post from your page, that one person will remember your brand because you are keeping it at the forefront of their mind. I’m not saying to post annoying, highly-promotional posts or even posts for the sake of it; rather, post anything that could give your potential consumer insight into what the brand is about. Take a look at Innocent Smoothies, for instance. Their social media strategy has been revered by marketeers for being successful because of their engagement with customers. It’s about the full package: imaging, engagement, and creating a sense of character in the product you’re selling because that’s what consumers buy. Toms shoes, in the same manner, were so successful because they created a story around their brand. It just so happens that the majority of people are on social media these days, and if you are given the opportunity to target 10,000 readers of a magazine or 10 million people on Facebook, it’s the natural tendency to do the latter.

    And with so many people using social media as a sales platform today, Facebook and Twitter have evolved to accompany the demand for built-in analytics so anyone can track the success of any post they put out into the social media ether. And while “success” can be measured in a number of ways, for social media marketers, a lot of the time, this success is looking at website visits, which then, can be tracked to see how many conversions (sales) are off the back of any social media activity. So social media marketing is very much a measurable activity.

    To sum up, I completely agree with you about “vanity” posting being a waste of time. What we should remember is to instead consider our marketing strategy and make the most of any channel we use to target consumers by creating a positive brand image.


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