Coming To The Defense of Social Media (among other things)

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The word “easy.” Has lots of connotations and meanings. I mean there were The Eagles telling us all to Take It Easy. We had Staples telling us to hit the Easy Button whenever faced with something difficult.

Then there is “taking the easy way out” of something.

You know, the lazy way, the path of least resistance or as someone once said: “The easy way out is the choice of the myopic.”

So what does all this have to do coming to the defense of social media? This recent Forbes’ article title Social Media Has Over-Promised, But Under-Delivered For Retailers. Here’s The Fix.

The Defense Does Not Rest… Yet

When I first read the title, my immediate thought was this was going to be another social media bash fest and sure enough there were the obligatory survey says stats speaking to the horrors that is social media:

  • Only 34% rated Instagram “very effective”
  • Fewer than 20% rated Facebook “very effective”
  • While another 23% said Facebook was of “limited effectiveness.”

Now these results are from a study of 200 luxury goods company execs so they need to be taken with multiple grains of salt. For one thing, it’s only 200 people and secondly, it’s limited in industry scope.

A few lines later, however, the author shared the results of an SMB study which revealed both Facebook (53%) and Instagram (50%) advertising as being only “somewhat effective” in promoting their businesses.

At this point of the article I was ready. I was ready to spout off on those who seemingly take the easy way out. Blame social media for failing when in fact it is more than likely you, brand managers, SMBs, etc., who are to blame.

However, the author says it best in the very same article:

“Companies approach social media primarily as an advertising and marketing media: post images to drive sales and store visits. As a result, they measure it like any outbound advertising campaign.


But consumers don’t want to be advertised to on social media. They want to be engaged on social, like they are with their friends and families. For them, it’s primarily a communications and information platform.”

Now do you see where I’m going when it comes to taking the easy way out?

Well listen to what Jamie Gilpin, CMO of Sprout Social said:

“We as marketers always want to have that immediate impact, But consumers are looking to social to learn about brands and engage with them. Many businesses haven’t gotten totally comfortable with that shift.”

Immediate impact = easy kids. You know I am right. And when that immediate impact does not come, well then, heads must roll and in this case, social media is to blame.

I highly recommend you read the article in full. Pamela Danziger lays out some great ideas on how to best utilize social media and do so from a realistic perspective.

The Blame Game (paraphrasing Shirley Ellis, see below)

You may be thinking by now that I am the world’s biggest social media apologist. Hardly.

The point I want to make crystal clear is we humans (and yes, that includes marketers, at least until AI takes over) tend to look to blame some one or in this case some thing. It’s ok, we ALL do it from time to time. It’s a human instinct. The problem or challenge is blame becomes a crutch; a safety net; the easy way out.

“Well if this doesn’t work, we can always blame XXXX.”

This phenomenon is hardly limited to social media. For example it happens in the technology world all the time. Company X makes a huge investment in a given technology, doesn’t see the ROI they were hoping for or expecting and their immediate reaction? Blame the technology.

‘Why did we spend all this money? We’re not seeing anywhere near the results you told us we would. We made a mistake.’

Borrowing From Big Data

Remember when the term ‘Big Data’ came into vogue? Soon after was this omnipresent mandate: “It’s not big data it’s the RIGHT data” which of course meant while data was in abundance, it was identifying and using the RIGHT data that was the key to success.

It is the exact same principle here, boys and girls.

It’s not (insert name of social media platform here) or (insert name of tech here). It’s using these tools the RIGHT way which includes the RIGHT, and dare I say, realistic expectations.

To the fewer than 20% who rated Facebook “very effective” — my questions would be:

  • How are you grading effectiveness?
  • What were your goals for social media?
    • Awareness?
    • Engagement?
    • Sales?
    • All of the above?

And when it comes to technology it’s the same: Are you using the tool the RIGHT way but when it comes to tech, are you maximizing all that is available to you? Or are you not utilizing Tool X to its fullest? Are there functionalities inherent in it that you are not capitalizing on for one reason or another?

Happens all the time. More than you know.

And you know what else happens?

The blame game.

So before you knee-jerk react to something, do yourself and everyone else a favor: Get all the facts, first.

And then you can react accordingly.

You have my permission.


Shirley Ellis was an American soul music singer and songwriter of Carribean origin. She is best known for her novelty hits The Nitty Gritty, The Clapping Song and this, perhaps her most famous song, The Name Game.

Warning: Once you watch and listen to this song, it will be stuck in your head in classic earworm style.

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