10 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Sucks…

Written on November 20, 2007 – 2:35 pm | by Andy Beard |

…or more importantly, the way most people seem to be going about it, including me at times.

The Answer Is?

Social Media is currently being touted as the answer to life, the universe, and everything online, but there is a lot more to it than just hitching a ride.

Lets take a look at some of the things you need to think about before you even contemplate a social media marketing strategy.

  1. Undefined Goals vs Specific Goals

    I would regard the following as fairly undefined goals:-

    • I want more customers for my business
    • I want to launch this new product with a boom!
    • I want more people to read my blog
    • I need more links to rank higher

    With social media marketing, whilst many items are difficult to determine, if you start out without specific goals, you may well be wasting resources.

    Here are some ideas for more specific goals:-

    • My business is mainly local, thus I need to target regional specific venues, or vertical venues that might broaden my reach locally.
    • My product has a niche focus thus I will target venues frequented by media within my niche aimed at bringing in 20 media mentions in the first wave of my viral marketing campaign.
    • I want Danny Sullivan, Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwartz, Robert Scoble to subscribe to my blog – obviously I need to target people in my niche – specific linkerati and influencers.
  2. Aim for targets within your reach, thus if you don’t have a strong enough hook, don’t try to land a big fish.

  3. Random Activity vs Planned Method of Attack
  4. Whilst it is possible to become a bridge between online social circles and to target multiple niches simultaneously, it is certainly a lot more time consuming to do successfully.

    Defining a single core audience and becoming a thought leader in that single marketplace is ultimately a better long-term strategy than trying to become “all things to all men”.

  5. Random Stats vs Accountable Statistical Measures
  6. This one is a hard one to pin down – lots of aspects of social media are extremely difficult to track accurately, especially things like RSS Subscriptions or votes on social voting buttons.

    Try monitoring things like open rate in your feed stats, compared to number of comments and the number of links your receive on your blog. Surprisingly they do not always correlate.

    One of my most read posts in my RSS Feed on Andybeard.eu has but 2 comments – it is actually quite recent. Conversely my discussions relating to Google’s PageRank updates in October are poor performers in my RSS stats, but bring in a lot of links and traffic.

  7. Random Content vs Planned Content Strategy
  8. Plan your content strategy around your previously defined goals, not what is happening in the blogosphere. Look on discussions and events happening outside of your niches as opportunities if they are related to your goals, or can be leveraged.

  9. Random Encounters vs Optimized Role Management
  10. This is more on the corporate front. When you enter social media marketing channels, there will be a need for 2-way conversation – with customers and clients, members of the press and bloggers, raving fans and detractors in the public eye.
    A decision needs to be made on how you will react to different instances, preferably in advance with multiple options and a “plan B”. People do go on holiday, and things will not always go as you plan.

  11. Random Pathways vs Defined Traffic Funnel
  12. Again an enigma – traffic will be coming in from multiple sources and often they will have different preferences in how they can be treated whilst visiting your website.
    If you have ever done PPC advertising with multiple landing pages, think of how that can be applied to Social Media Marketing by offering a different landing page to traffic from different sources.

  13. Traffic vs Targeted Traffic
  14. Ultimately you are looking for people visiting your site who have some value, though that doesn’t necessarily mean direct financial value. A popular stumbler or digg user who likes your content but would not be looking to buy from you would be a good example, or possibly potential link partners in a similar niche.
    Even people visiting your site who ultimately just click away on some advertising are valuable, not just with PayPerClick advertising but things like site sponsorships. Bringing value to your site sponsors is also important in brand recognition and traffic.

  15. Topical Linking vs Strategic Linking
    • Link to a regular reader in your niche who doesn’t get much traffic
    • Link to someone in your niche who has never read your blog
    • Promote someone’s niche ranking list to get included
    • Included someone in your niche ranking list to get traffic
    • Link to like minded dofollow blogs because you get a link from their trackbacks
  16. Think out of the box with your linking

    Use tools such as Technorati, Google Blogsearch, Techmeme & Megite to your advantage – use them strategically.

  17. Reporter vs News Epicentre
  18. If there is a large conversation about a topic related to your niche, do you want to be a spoke on the wheel or the hub of conversation?
    Whilst it might not initially be possible to become a source for explosive stories, it is possible to become an acknowledge filter of the conversation.
    Services such as Techmeme and Megite allow you to identify hubs of conversation, and also to identify other bloggers who are also hubs of the conversation. Hubs of conversation are more likely to write followup articles on the same subject, and in general are link friendly, thus if you offer insight along with links to other sources of information, the chances of being brought into the conversation increase.
    Techmeme is itself a hub, but has the disadvantage of not offering commentary, and does get criticism for not covering niche bloggers as well as a human.

  19. Self Orientated vs Customer Orientated
  20. Social media is just that… social – if your motive for getting involved is purely for personal gain, you are wasting your time.
    Social media site users are smart, and opinionated. If they feel they are being manipulated or gamed, they are going to call you out on it, and there can be negative ramifications.
    The best way to demonstrate to future subscribers and hopefully customers why they should be reading your content, or doing business with you is to interact with them.
    In some lines of work you must be prepared to “move the free line” thus you will be giving far more of yourself than you might initially receive in return.

I will be addressing each of these topics in much greater detail in future posts, but I would love to ask you which aspect of your social media marketing strategy you find most difficult to pin down?

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  1. 87 Responses to “10 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Sucks…”

  2. By Matt Garrett on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    just a couple of ‘thoughts’:

    Random Content vs Planned Content Strategy

    it’s so easy to get influenced by “what’s going on now” and go off at a tangent, which can ultimatly water down the intended message…

    Random Pathways vs Defined Traffic Funnel

    ah, the good old “splatter gun” method of trying to make money that so many blogs seem to employ. just slapping up a few ads that look good isn’t a real strategy for making money, the “funnel” should be planned out first, to make sure it’s as “slippery” as possible!

    Of course, I’m guilty of both the above too.

  3. By Barry Schwartz on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I subscribed. 😉

  4. By Brian Auer on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Great write-up Andy. I think social media is misunderstood by many people, and thus not utilized correctly. Social media takes time… lots of time. And like you said in point #10, using social media only for personal gain is quite transparent and it will get you nowhere fast. It’s all about community and contribution.

  5. By JMorris on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Excellent post Andy!

    To answer the question…”which aspect of your social media marketing strategy you find most difficult to pin down?”

    For me it is “Reporter vs News Epicentre”. I’m in the acknowledged filter phase.

    This is something a lot of bloggers lack the patience to get through. Just like any other aspect of life, you have to pay your dues and earn your name.

  6. By sir jorge on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    this post is definitely one of the best, well written, posts on social media!

  7. By Megan Carruth on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Valuable points here for sure. I reduce it to the “ready, aim fire” approach vs. the “ready, fire fire fire” approach, which is applicable accross the board, not just pertaining to SMM or its suck factor.

    “Ultimately you are looking for people visiting your site who have some value, though that doesn’t necessarily mean direct financial value.”

    This is the #1 misconception I see in onine marketing.

  8. By Mack on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Traffic vs Targeted Traffic

    I think this is one of the best points. Too many flip sides to this to really drill it down. Almost any visitor has the potential to bring some type of value. So I support them all :)

  9. By John Honeck on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    really s l o w feed pickup. I saw the post referenced in 3 different locations today before I read it in my feed. Just an FYI.

  10. By massa on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    social media has fallen way short of the promise of web 2.0 and become little more than the meta tag stuffing advice of 1999. It’s a shame and I’m thrilled to see someone, SOMEWHERE trying to get the concept across to just BE REAL. Good luck with that.

    Happy Birthday BTW. Enjoy it while you’re young 😉

  11. By Max on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Good read. I’m looking forward to the future posts in more details on each of the points. Would be even better with examples directed on small businesses 😉

  12. By SEO Buzz Box on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Social Media is a bunch of geeks trying to figure out (via technology) how to communicate with normal humans. It’s like one big farking revenge of the nerds!

    If you consider other humans “fish” are you a sociopath?

  13. By Advice Network on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Ow, you got me. This article could have been titled “Why Alex’s SMM sucks.”

  14. By John W. Furst on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Wow! Sounds like ’10 Points to Win the Battle’. I am looking forward to read the detailed posts on each sub headline. –John

  15. By multippt on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    That about covers all those misconceptions about social media – especially the part discussed in “Traffic vs Targeted Traffic”.

    Nowadays people just submit articles to sites like Digg in the hopes of getting cash that will never come.

  16. By James - DigitalKeyToInfo on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    How many references to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are in that post? I count 3.

  17. By Pony on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I think the statement ‘social media users are smart, and opinionated’ pretty much sums up why most marketing efforts fail. The users just aren’t as gullible as we pretend they are.

  18. By Hobo on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Nice post Andy + one more subscriber :)

  19. By Sam Freedom on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Andy, I almost had my lawyer call you for infringing on my niche. The title was a powerful one. In fact, tonight or tomorrow, I was going to publish “TechMeme sucks” so something weird must be in the air…

    Anyways, I enjoyed your “vs” analysis. And I like your suggestion to give a link to get attention. After all, flattery, at its subtle best, is truly effective.

    But you already know that. 😉


  20. By mblair on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Andy, I completely agree that accountable statistical measures are tough to pin down. I’m looking forward to your future articles on this theme to see you flesh out a balanced methodology for benchmarking/trend tracking in what is really an uphill battle on roller skates.

  21. By Maki on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Tunnel-vision, inexperienced social media marketing sucks. Don’t bother listening to or reading the articles of these marketers.

    Lateral thinking, experienced social media marketing doesn’t suck. And when these people hype up SMM, they validate it by their knowledge and successes.

    Most difficult to pin down? The perceptions or opinions of social media traffic after they come across your site or offer.

    I guess a positive/negative vote or conversion/no conversion means they like or hate it but it would be nice to have more information how they felt your service could be improved.

    It’ll all seep in over time I guess.

  22. By Online Money on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Social Media Marketing can play wonders if worked strategically. Social networking as the name says is a place where you can network with like minded people. Now when you build a bigger community in these networks, you naturally get a lot of visitors.

    I believe traffic is good. Even if it is less targeted. It is better than no traffic at all. I think social networking has proved itself to help many online ventures to market their products successfully. This is one of the reasons why social networking sites are attracting so many users and why they are valued very high.

  23. By Andy Beard on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Aaron, I look on Social media as any kind of venue where some kind of communication takes place, not just social news sites.
    As an example blogging for me is a conversation with a specific group of people, some are already listening, and others walking by overhear and join in.

    Sam, you don’t have a trademark on controversy :)

    Maki, I certainly wouldn’t class goal setting as the same as tunnel-vision, and success also depends on how you define it.

    I know some very experienced social media marketing professionals who could achieve much better results for their clients.

  24. By Susan on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Not to be picky, but I’m an English & marketing professor, and fyi, there’s no such word as “orientated”.

  25. By Maki on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    I didn’t lump goal-setting with tunnel-vision.. just making a general statement about certain marketers. You know the sort whose only strategy is to spam their IM list/network and get votes in order to get to the Digg/Sphinn frontpage with mediocre content which they think is terrific.

    I define success as having met your own or your client’s goals. As for doing better, we all could always do better for ourselves or our clients in every scenario. I’m only saying that quality marketers walk their talk.

    The hype is there to sell consultancy and if they can do what they promised, it’s all good.

  26. By Andy Beard on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Susan that is being picky, and according to the Oxford dictionary, and as I am British that is the spelling I grew up with so is sometimes hard to shake, I am correct in my usage.


    Which is the correct spelling: ‘oriented’ or ‘orientated’?
    It really doesn’t matter: it’s a matter of personal taste. Orientated is currently preferred use in general British use. Oriented is prevalent in technical use, and in the US.

    I am sure there are other mistakes, living as an expat for 14 years is detrimental to language skills but fortunately this isn’t a master’s thesis.

  27. By Ken - Hoobin.com on Nov 22, 2007 | Reply

    I hear you, this is what i thought about social media, quality traffic – is a big issue in social media marketing.

    I don’t need traffic, I need traffic that stick around.

  28. By marshal sandler on Nov 22, 2007 | Reply

    Susan be Picky ! Anyone who writes as well as Andy should also be chastised for using ” Sucks !”
    in a headline ! He writes a beautiful deck and article and kills it with a useless headline ! It turns me off when talent s wasted ! No offense Andy I expect more when I am a fan of someone !

  29. By Andy Beard on Nov 23, 2007 | Reply

    Marshal you can’t please everyone which is in itself a lesson.
    I don’t think I have ever minced words, and even though I did ask a question at the end, it wasn’t a “What do you think?”, I was more looking for specific information.

    The title was picked because

    1. It creates a reaction
    2. My “Why Blogs Suck” post on andybeard.eu had the highest open rate of any post I have written on that blog, over 90%
    3. I wanted to present a list to start a series of thoughts and topics for discussion
    4. I wanted some useful anchor text that sites couldn’t resist using.

    It will be interesting to see what the final tally is, but I expect open rate to be in the top 10% on my blog, and reasonably high here. We don’t have enough subscribers yet to make statistical comparisons here other than things like the number of links, comments and Sphinns.

  30. By AgentSully on Nov 23, 2007 | Reply

    It’s so easy to get distracted as you roam the blogosphere. Thank you for this reminder to be more strategic and less reactionary!

  31. By Michael Brito on Nov 27, 2007 | Reply

    1. Traffic vs Targeted Traffic

    This is a challenge because the demographics of social media users are changing daily.

    2. Random Encounters vs Optimized Role Management

    Love this. It’s the difference between content versus copy; whereby content is writing to tell a story and copy is written to sell a product.

  32. By Demond Jackson on Dec 10, 2007 | Reply

    Andy, loved your post.

    I really liked the part about being specific with your goals. With everything in life, the more specific you get the more focus and power is available to you. Keep up the good work.

  33. By brettbum on Jan 29, 2008 | Reply

    I just blogged about this article, but noticed you may have a mis-spelling.

    Reporter vs News Epicentre

    Not sure if Epicentre is maybe a french or alternate english spelling of that word that I am not familiar with, but in my spell check it ends with ‘er’

    Great article btw, got a lot out of it, and only make mention of the spelling thing in hopes of giving a good first impression to anyone that follows.

  34. By Andy Beard on Jan 29, 2008 | Reply

    Brett I would love to think that that is the primary way to spell it, but the population of the US is greater than the UK, and I am not 100% sure how the rest of the World spell things but Wikipedia suggests that “re” is used throughout the commonwealth.

    Whilst I hate referring to Wikipedia for things, it does take a lot less time.
    UK vs US spelling
    But of course as it is Wikipedia don’t trust it 😉 –

  35. By Internet Marketing Tips on Mar 31, 2008 | Reply

    nice post andy,
    I like the 10th point “Self Orientated vs Customer Orientated” very much.
    really social media users are all webmasters, if the content or product served is good enough, then only you can expect targetted traffic otherwise you may end up with negative comments (with stale content)
    I would love to read detailed description of all the points too

  36. By g dewald on May 27, 2008 | Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been trying to move clients to get specific and strategic for some time. This article will help serve as a starting point for helping them do just that.

  37. By xposed design on May 27, 2008 | Reply

    Great article, made me think again about creating a social network presence, the main thing holding me back? my target market Isn’t lonely geeks.

  38. By Andy Beard on Jun 16, 2008 | Reply

    xposed design

    You are missing out on lot and lots of juicy links from your peers in the design field.

  39. By Jeff Flowers on Aug 5, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting post.

    Most people don’t realize that it takes ALOT of time to build a successful Social Media presence. It’s a commitment, and not just something that is going to happen over nite.

    I think there are alot of people attempting to utilize Social Media, but end up falling short, because they don’t know how the system really works.

  40. By Stephen on Jul 30, 2009 | Reply

    You have to be customer orientated with Marketing. Nobody wants to read a blog etc which is all me me me. Our generation (in my 30’s) will quickly get swallowed up by younger more willing to give for free (20 somethings). We need to understand that if you “give a little you get a lot”

  41. By Daniel Gibbs on Aug 19, 2009 | Reply

    Never knew that (I always use orientated) but after a quick google…

    “Orientated is currently preferred use in general British use. Oriented is prevalent in technical use, and in the US.”

  42. By Jim Clark on Jan 20, 2010 | Reply

    What a wonderfull post dude, thanks for sharing this. For sure i will check your another post later, i just bookmarking this site. Again happy posting

  43. By John on Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

    I feel the success or failure of social networking can be very industry specific. In my case, I have a home design and drafting firm in Fresno, CA, and I have had very limited success with online social networking. My time is better spent doing in-person social networking.


    Creative Home Concepts – Design and Drafting, Fresno CA

  44. By Mail Print on Apr 30, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve always struggled with how to use social media as a B2B marketing tool; I now have a clearer vision for moving forward (your example “specific goals” in step one were especially helpful).


  45. By Social Media Marketing Agentur on Jun 22, 2010 | Reply

    Fantastic article and great advices! i totally agree with every single point and it’s about time, that companys stop using social media wrong, and than feel that it’s not working at all. no wonder, if the only thing they post are their press releases.

  46. By chirurgien dentiste dans paris on Nov 5, 2010 | Reply

    It’s a website with a lot of information and images. In addition, it allows to highlight the side design and form of the website.

  47. By Carmen Brodeur on Jan 9, 2011 | Reply

    Good article. Very valid points that social media presence should be well thought out and targeted. Takes a lot of work to do it right.

  48. By Edward Beckett on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    “Random Stats vs Accountable Statistical Measures” …

    Worrying about how Britt’s spell -vs- Americans …

    Wow – that’s valuable …


  49. By Ryan Critchett on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    Even though you wrote this years ago, there are still some valid points!

    I like how you put emphasis on being definitive and clearly defining outcomes!

    Great stuff.


  50. By Peter Chang on Jan 28, 2011 | Reply

    Even today, 3 years after the post was made, more than 50% of companies go into social media without a plan. This shows how long people are just willing to ride without really thinking.

  51. By James Sanson on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    I see randomness like preschool they are doing everything with no logic whatsoever. One second picking their nose and eating it, another time running with the kids screaming for no other reason than to scream, and another moment crying to just cry. A planned system allows you to accomplish so much more- scheduling, doing things for a reason, etc.

    I think we would have way better social blogging if Yahoo, Bing, and Google did not give it any weight. Then people would have to write, because they want to share something of value vs backlinks, etc. They have us chasing domain authority, page authority, etc.

    However, to sum it up – you are right.

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