Why “Social Media for business is” [not] “CRAP!”

I write this in haste and I am pissed. So watch out –

A friend just sent me this discussion on LinkedIn entitled:” Social Media for Business is CRAP! OK, I finally said it publicly, Social Media for business is Crap!”, written by a guy who has a digital agency – PPC, SEO, Web analytics – that sort of thing.

The article goes on for great length to say how social media is overhyped and not really useful for business. My first take was this guy was ignorant and he didn’t understand social media is just a tactic – not a silver bullet. If a business used it without success the goals were probably not clear.

I gave the article a second read. With a second look, I realize I had been too generous with the guy. He was not just ignorant; he is downright dangerous because he assumes that people are just robots – they can only be persuaded to buy when they are in “buy” program. Here’s the crucial bit upon which his argument of “why social media for business is crap” hinges:

Social media is used for entertainment and communication, ahh, socializing. “Socializing” people are not in the “consumer mode” when they are cruising the social sites. They are looking for friends, maybe a date, etc…you really cannot target potential consumers when they are out at their “buying behavior mode”.

In his view, if you’re buying you buy and if you’re not – you’re not – never shall the twain meet. So since social media can not lead to a direct sale (untrue BTW) it must be, therefore, useless for business.

What nonsense.  Aside from the fact that this POV does not account for the process of creating a customer, it does nothing to create a pool of prospects who may be future customers. But then he continues with what he thinks is proof for why “social media for business is crap”:

And yes, I have read the eMarketer predictions that social ad spend will increase by about 400% by 2013. But, these same groups are also publishing reports like today’s “Does Social Media Work for Small Biz?” where 88% of all small business owners say social media is not helpful to their business. Proof that most of us are not yet seeing the tangible benefits.

Uh – that’s one way to look at the data but that’s a distorted view to make his point. It would be far more accurate to understand these statistics by recognizing that most small businesses do not see the value of social media yet – because they have not yet done it! Social media is barely 12 months old and you have to wonder why small business is not relying on it yet? Come’on – .

Not until the end does he subtly reveal his agenda to the astute reader (let’s remember his agency sells PPC services):

Sure, you can start a dialogue [with social media} and maybe down the road they will recall your business, but the effort to generate business is much more ROI effective using PPC or SEO. The one bright spot for social media as a business tool may be list building, but my own results have been mixed (via measuring quality of opt ins).

So, according to him, the only way to get tangible results is to use the type of programs that he sells services for (hmm – what a coincidence). But here’s the rich irony of it all. As he disses social media for its lack of ROI,  who here wants to bet that traffic to his site quadrupled???? My take is if he can’t convert any of that extra traffic to paid customers – he is doing it wrong – not social media which did its job perfectly.

You may be wondering why this whole episode really ignited my fury. I got so angry because there was no intelligence in his article – no insight. He simply manipulated the social media environment by picking an obviously intense topic for his own blatant agenda.  It strikes me as shameless and without integrity. If an agency person wants to generate controversy – go to town. But be simple and direct and pick a topic that you can discuss with intelligence and honesty. Digital lynching of social media is so passé.

(I feel better now).

Judy Shapiro

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9 Responses

  1. As Brian Solis puts it: “In the end, social media is a privilege and a tool — one more opportunity to run a more meaningful and relevant business.”

    Sounds like your mate on LinkedIn is wedded to trying to protect his foundering legacy SEO /keyword business …

  2. Great Read. look forward to your next article

  3. well done – media manipulation is plain wrong and now easier than ever with all the networks out there. I am surprised at how many people fell for his trick 😦 I’m glad you called him on it.

  4. I had heard a response like this elsewhere – if social media for business is so crap why form a Group on the premier social network for business – Linked In – with linkbait as title?

    The argument about people not being in “consumer mode” when they’re using social media is absurd. Are people in “consumer mode when they’re interrupted in the middle of their favourite TV show to see a dish liquid advert?

    Most forms of communication based marketing are intrusive by nature, but they seem to work.

    Nice article.

    • Indeed — the whole thing was so distasteful to me — I felt the need to call it out. But I refused to do it on LinkedIn — it would encourage that type of behavior more. He did, after all , thousands of comments. Thanks. Judy

  5. Nice write up. Very useful for a newbie like me.

    Keep writing:)

  6. Awesome post

  7. Very well done indeed.

  8. I see why you didn;t like it, you’re just another social media Pimp, ….spewing your hypwerbole, wiht NOTHING to back it up……This guy was Dead On! Sorry, I know you’ll NOT publish htis as you did with all the other comments that challenged your empty thinking.

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