8 Reasons Social Media Isn’t Made for Business

Social Media MarketingSocial media is hot, but is it
really good for marketing?

Social media is just that – social. It’s great for keeping up with friends and family, like sharing photos and reviews of the latest hit movie or new restaurant. But as an effective business marketing tool that will generate sales, social media leaves a lot to be desired.

It does have a role in a company’s communications and customer service, providing a channel to distribute news, special offers, and taking the pulse of the marketplace. Still, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has generated a significant number of sales from social media.

Brad Smith makes a similar argument in a post for FixCourse, an online marketing publication. Smith gave four reasons he thinks email marketing beats social media every time:

  1. Social Media platforms come and go. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are popular now, but for how long? At one time, AOL was the most visited site on the internet – now it’s ranked 73rd. It’s hard to build a long-term marketing strategy when you don’t know if your delivery system will still be around next year.
  2. They dictate the rules of the game. If you want to run a promotion, you have to follow their guidelines, or risk having your page taken down (even for an honest mistake). Smith calls it “building on their land.”
  3. They own the data – from every post to your followers’ contact information. You can’t access or use that data for your marketing. So unless you capture it offsite, you’re only creating revenue for them.
  4. The ROI is weak. Social media just can’t match email marketing for ROI (Return On Investment versus Return On Impression).

All in all, I think Smith is right. In fact, I can think of a few more reasons why social media isn’t really made for business.

Limited Space and Control

Most social media sites restrict posts to a certain number of characters. That leaves precious little space to create a persuasive message with any chance of converting the reader. Unless, of course, you give away something free.

And aside from uploading photos, you can’t change the layout at all, so key design decisions are out of your hands. Your posts and ads look just like everyone else’s. (Facebook does have customizable “tabs” that act like landing pages, but you still have to convince users to leave their walls and go there!)

It’s for Conversations, Not Conversions

Every social media post has an extremely short shelf life – minutes usually, hours at best. That’s great for a quick chat, but not so great for marketing. With every new post, yours gets pushed farther down the queue, and it competes with every other post that pops up on the page.

Compare this to when you send an email. Your message still competes with other subject lines, but it’s static and demands attention. It stays in the recipient’s inbox until they choose to open it or delete it. And once your message is opened, there’s no other message to distract them.

You Can’t Segment Your Followers

Want to send different messages to followers with different needs? Or maybe A/B test an offer? Too bad. Google Plus does let you segment posts by social circles – family, friends, colleagues – but that won’t help your business.

So targeted marketing becomes impossible, like performing brain surgery with a butter knife. The more irrelevant posts a user sees, the more likely they are to “opt-out” and stop following you.

Users Don’t Want Marketing, Anyway

It’s true: social media users love discounts and freebies. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it goes. They don’t want to be marketed to when they came to laugh at photos of a friend’s cat. Or, in the case of LinkedIn, make business connections. Wrong time, wrong place.

Again, I’m not saying businesses shouldn’t use social media. It should support your other marketing efforts as part of an integrated marketing plan.

But if you have limited resources and serious marketing goals to meet, I’d concentrate on building a database for targeted email marketing – and leave social media for those quick conversations it does best.

Which does your program focus on more, email or social media? Why?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. social media marketing on January 3, 2013 at 6:10 PM said:

    Every thing is all about “trending.” We are in advance of the curve with what’s hot and what isn’t.

  2. Pingback: 10 Insights to Improve Your Email Performance | Marketing Westchester NY | InSight Marketing of Westchester NY

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