Is Social Media Marketing the New Snake Oil of Today’s Marketing World

Marketing on the Web has become a black hole of intuition and analysis of data that compares to augury practices from the Middle Ages. There is a vast array of “Thought Leaders” and “Typing Heads” that present themselves as authoritative on the inner workings of search engines, branding, social media marketing, email marketing, lead generation, and the list continues to grow with confusing acronyms and trade speak words that are yet to be defined. The proof is in the punch i.e. successful marketers, particularly successful digital marketers are difficult to find in the morass of self-promoters and dilettantes that flow through the electronic ether. It as if electronic marketing has become the highway of endless snake oil salesmen and sideshow barkers.

The confusion wrought on average business owners and even the more savvy CEOs due to their intense need to harness the marketing and sales power of the web has made many marketers rich while their customers have withered on the vine. Small businesses particularly have taken large bites of an apple they probably should have never attempted to pick. Examples of the huge sums of money pilfered from small businesses by marketers proclaiming to raise the web presence of small businesses abound. Numbers vary but they probably exceed the total GNP of some Third World countries. However; this issue will exist until companies, owners, and employees become educated about the realities of the digital marketplace and Internet marketing.

Many of our clients, big and small, have great branding and a web presence that people should emulate. There were defined campaigns and goals that could be tracked through analytics and ENGAGEMENT. Engagement is capitalized because it is one of the most important and overlooked elements in this era of digital marketing. Many businesses and companies are slowly coming to realize that having a website isn’t enough. The customer wants to have a personal relationship with a brand. That is why expenditures on human sales forces still continue to grow, particularly for B2B sales. Faces or at least names are wanted by users and consumers to associate with the products and services that they use, particularly ones that entail a large capital expenditure.

Multitudes of agencies are out there touting their successes in the realm of digital marketing. They have success stories and customer anecdotes of how their intense knowledge of the internet has helped their customers succeed. Digital media and social media marketing companies tend to portray themselves as knowing what was behind the curtain in the Land of Oz. This makes sense because they are marketing themselves(something I think that is forgotten by some very smart business types). Finding a great marketer is becoming more and more muddled due to the increase in the noise from electronic media marketing companies, particularly for social media marketing which is the area everyone wants to expand because of the perception of low cost per customer acquisition.

Social Media Marketing(SMM) has become the realm of cowboys and zealots proclaiming their abilities to tame the domain of social media. The realities and successes are more difficult to assess then social media marketers would like their customers and employers to know. Marketing and branding through social media takes time, patience, expenditures, and more than anything a plan. Planning and then staying with the marketing plan are two elements that are often forgotten by the business when their goals aren’t met, usually this is because of the expectation of immediate results.

Eight Rules That Will Make Your Social Media Marketing A Success

  1. Do not select a SMM professional without meeting the person/persons face to face.
  2. When a SMM person uses the words easy, fast, or cheap you should run.
  3. Social Media Marketing takes time and skill, don’t fall into the trap that your nephew can do it because he knows Instagram and Twitter – text and content still rule.
  4. Have measurable and attainable benchmarks that have no ambiguity that leads to confusion between yourself and your marketing person/team.
  5. Stay with the SMM plan i.e. expect to run a marathon, not a sprint.
  6. Engagement rules the roost! Engaging one user/customer will pay more dividends than 1,000 “Likes”(I wish the “Like” would have never been invented)
  7. Spend money wisely, if your team or marketer is blindly throwing money towards SMM it is time to make a change.
  8. Lastly, communicate with your marketing team what your message is, then let them craft it and the marketing plan to get your message across

Social Media Marketing adds to your existing marketing. It has become a powerful piece of the puzzle that makes brands and businesses successful. But it isn’t the end-all-be-all salvation for your business’s marketing success and success in general. Successful businesses still have two important things: Great people and good products/services. The best marketing cannot make a business or company flourish without these two things.

Author: Sean Johnson

Sean Johnson is the founder of 7x Strategy•Tactical.