The Impact of Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sometimes I wonder if analysts will ever put together the journey that customers take from thought to purchase. It seems that many are simply too lazy, but I’m growing weary of how many don’t take the time to find the impact that companies have when working in social media.

From the post:

Regardless of whether your brand is talkable or boring, as you launch these social applications, you’ll generate something very valuable ? people who care about your brand, or at least the problems it solves. I’ve begun to ask brand marketers a question: who are your most engaged customers? I don’t want an answer like women 25 to 34 with at least one child. I want an answer like Emily DiBernardo, she lives in Kansas and she just can’t stop talking about us. With social applications, you’ll find Emily.

If your brand is talkable, your social efforts will surface the brand enthusiasts who have the most influence. If it’s boring, your social applications will help you find your rare but valuable brand enthusiasts, or even generate a few. Pay attention to these people. Because as advertising clutter rises and word of mouth becomes more important, they’re about to become some of your most important corporate assets.

Puke. All the buzzwords and shiny objects shoved into a couple paragraphs. Where’s the proof? Where’s the data? As I’ve said before, this version of engagement is ridiculous… and there’s never any proof in these posts that more comments leads to more sales.


The chart is based on the question, How interested are you?. How interested am I? Well, I’m very interested in the latest car models that are being designed overseas and here in Detroit… but I’m not buying a car. I’m very interested in solar technology… but I live in an apartment. I’m interested in dating… but not seeing anyone.

The problem with this approach is it misses the entire boat on the necessary question, Where are consumers or businesses researching and make purchasing decisions? The problem with the vast majority of social media sites and marketing is that there’s very rarely a path to purchase through these mediums. As well, there’s no intent on the side of the buyer. When is the last time you went to Facebook to buy a camera? I thought so!

Consumers and businesses are researching purchases primarily through search engines. Why doesn’t Forrester take the time to report on this simple behavior of businesses and consumers? It seems they’re blinded by the shiny objects as much as everyone else. I believe it was actually a Forrester report that said that 90% or more of Internet users start their session with a search engine or in email.

Hmmm…. seems to me that, if I were a business, I’d want to be at the end of that search query… or that I should be sending out emails to my customers to keep them informed, retained, and taking advantage of upsells.

It’s not that I don’t believe in word of mouth marketing or the power of social media on a brand… I do! But I’m also practical in stating that businesses need to put their valuable and limited resources where they can make a difference. A great company, product or service will rise in social media… but you can’t control that conversation. You can control a search result or the compelling message in an email.

Business Misuse of Social Media Marketing

Tonight was a great night. We had quite a number of folks show up for the Southside Smoosier Technology Club and Indy Tweetup where some of the conversation turned to, of course, business use of social media. We spoke about some of the fantastic examples of its implementation and other terribly poor implementations.

The majority agreed that each medium and technology has its strengths and weaknesses – and those who do it poor, more often than not, tend to misalign the goal from the technology. It’s a lot like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. After the campaigns are long over, the marketers scratch their heads and wonder how they could have failed.

Social Media Mediums and Example Uses

  • Social Networking – networking, viral applications.
  • Blogging – building authority, trust, audience
  • Micro-blogging – communication, chronicling, presence, promotion
  • Mobile Marketing – time-based marketing, alerts, instant communication, 1:1 permission marketing
  • Wikis – collaboration, sharing, self-help
  • Video – personalization, humor, viral, explanation
  • Social Bookmarking – promotion, sharing, crowd-sharing
  • Forums – self-help, debate, conversation
  • Events – coordination, scheduling, RSVPs
  • Virtual worlds – entertainment, companionship

I realize that you can build some fairly complex social media campaigns that incorporate uses and mediums in ways that don’t match my options above. I’m just throwing out some general uses of each of the mediums to provide some insight into how they can be used differently.

Many marketers tend to gravitate towards the coolest medium or the one that they’re most comfortable with. This is an accident waiting to happen because they aren’t leveraging or combining the mediums to their fullest potential.

Social Networks versus Search Engines

One of the largest misconceptions of Social Media Marketing is that, if you wish to sell your product to more people, you should go do it on a social network. Social network is synonymous with people, right? Perhaps… let’s look at it a little differently:

  • The intent of people joining social networks is not to buy your product or service. In fact, your advertisement, or worse – your spam, is simply going to turn them off.
  • 4% of Internet activities incorporate social networks.

On the other hand:

  • The intent of a search engine user who types in the product or service you offer – or the problem you solve – is to research and/or purchase your product (if you’re there to be found).
  • Over 90% of Internet activities incorporate search in the process.

If you really want to utilize social media to acquire new customers, then you need to review which mediums will garner the most attention by search engines, not advertise in a room full of folks who aren’t the least bit interested.


  1. 1

    I couldn’t agree more, I use to be the one at a party trying to pitch my video work to musicians! And even if they were interested, they were not in the right mindset, not like when they are online and find my site and then spend some time looking at my work, now clients contact me.

    As far as the using video to personalize yourself, is it better to just stick to write posts for the indexible words or do you think vlogging is also a good idea?

    • 2

      Hi Edward,

      Thanks! The benefits of blogging with video to provide searchable terms is still a winner in my book. A minority of people utilize video searches – and within those, many do not take the time to properly describe the video.

      Combining the two is powerful but takes a bit longer, though. Being able to publish a Video Blog (Podcastable), AND blog about each video will definitely improve your chances of being found!

      Happy New Year!

  2. 3

    Great post Doug. I have seen a lot of private business owners misuse social networks. It not only looks like spam, but it stinks of cheap spam. Better approach is to take the time to build online content (blog is great option), create expertise, show your excellence in your profession, and win search results.

  3. 4

    Doug this is a great post. As a quite diverse web company, we are constantly trying to find new ways to use social media to effectively increase our sales and marketing position. I think you hit on some very strong key points about the misuse of social media, things I think even experts should keep in mind.

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