The downside to social media

downside to social mediaHas the social media “spin cycle” finally run it’s course?  Now before you get your bowels in a snit hear me out.  There is no doubt that social in part of our everyday online life.  Everytime I mention something bad about social media the social media consultants and promoters throw back irrelevant numbers of people who use social media in my face.  My position has been, and continues to be that social media, as a marketing channel, is way over-hyped simply because consumers don’t have time to engage a lot of brands and use social media mostly for news and to stay in contact with friends and family.

Back to the possible downside of social media.  When we depend on social media for our news something happens that we really don’t think about too much; we see filtered and tailored content based on what we have clicked on before.  This means news stories that more closely align with our views, but it also means that we don’t get to hear both sides of stories so that we can really think about issues (think, now that’s a novelty).

Twitter, now a public company, needs to make money so they are bombarding my Twitter feed with posts from other users and brands to the point that when I go away and come back I have over a couple of hundred Tweets waiting for me.  As I use Twitter to stay on top of marketing news and trends sorting thru the promoted Tweets can be a real time killer.

too much online noise

Even with all this “noise” on the Web, brands still need to be on social media because consumers expect us to be there when they have a question or issue with our brand/product or company.  Of course the other downside to this is that social media platforms like Twitter have become a bully pulpit for people who have anger management issues.  On the upside social media can really help ‘tell the truth” about brands and products.  A quick Google search, for example, of Liberty Mutual indicates that consumers are not buying their positioning via the latest TV ads, especially when their CEO uses millions of dollars to redo his office while they cut employee benefits amid increasing revenues.

truth in companies

While a lot of brands are sinking more money into social media, I am starting to see more and more social media community managers being downsized.  In my opinion, it’s happening because organizations expected too much from social media or that the didn’t have processes in place to really converse with consumers.

Finally, there is this brief story. A small pasta sauce manufacturer (client) spent over $200,000 developing a social media presence on different social media sites.  After 6 months they really had not seen the type of ROI they were expecting.  As I did a product audit I noticed that their products were on the lower shelves of local markets.  I recommended that we do a test to pay retailers to put the product at eye-level and low and behold their turnover increased 3X.  Just shows that for some products, marketing basics still works over social media.

really that simple