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Social Media is the Customers’ Domain, Not Marketing’s

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 26 November 2016


            Release the Kraken!” – Zeus, “ Clash of the Titans,” Warner Bros., 2010

If Tim Berners-Lee, often called the inventor of the World Wide Web, had known that his development of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) back in 1989 would become a huge, unrelenting ad hose, he might have changed his mind about releasing it on humanity.

Okay, you can’t credit/blame him for all of it.


Someone had to develop the search engine and the BBS (Bulletin Board System) which evolved into social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Tumblr, Instagram, ad nauseam.

Nearly all of the 3.5B people on the Net worldwide are busy on at least one of the social media sites.


Social Minute – People are on social media more than 15 hours a week connecting with friends, family and people with shared interests.  However, it isn’t the place they go to first to look for product ideas.

That’s why, every day:

  • Facebook users post 4.75 billion items of content
  • Twitter users send 400 million tweets
  • Instagram users “like” 1.2 billion photos
  • YouTube users watch 4 billion videos

With all that action, it’s no wonder that marketing folks believe what the site folks tell them social media has:

  • revolutionized the way customers engage brands
  • changed how brands influence behaviors
  • become one of the best marketing tools our world has ever known
  • evolved to be extremely influential
  • become a huge necessity for business
  • become an extremely effective way of getting your brand in front of 100s/1000s  of people every day; lots of potential customers
  • proven to be the most inexpensive form of digital marketing that requires only minimal know-how and experience  - and it shows - over time

As a result, the programmatic ad bot servers contend that because of this, your brand has stronger market presence.

And since 91 percent of brands are using more than one social media platform, it’s not something where you want to fall behind.

Sorta’ makes you feel if you don’t have an all-in social media marketing/ad effort, you’re not even doing real marketing.


Revenue Source – Currently, the largest social media site, Facebook, encourages people to exchange information, ideas and video.  Then they point to the number of members and traffic volume and say the world’s largest ad platform is available to marketing … maybe.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against social media marketing; but the first step isn’t to stuff as many ad dollars as possible into Zuck’s money machine.

Even if you build a strong following on any of the sites, remember they are the site’s potential customers … not yours!

They may follow you but Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and the others have their name, email address and control what they see from you … which is all Zuck really wants anyway.

After all, according to BIA/Kelsey, U.S. firms spent $5.1B on social media as of two years ago and by 2018, they expect that to grow to nearly $15B.

eMarketer estimated that Facebook will take 64.8% of total social network ad spending worldwide.

That’s probably why ad blockers and Facebook are trading punches to keep ads visible/out of your company and personal Facebook page.  

It’s nothing personal.

Actually, it Is

People don’t visit social media sites to engage with brands but to interact with people they know personally and professionally.


Limited Influence – While social media marketers like to highlight their likes, retweets and followers; Gallup found that creative push advertising activities have a minimal influence on getting consumers to purchase products or services.

A recent Gallup study found that the vast majority (94 percent) of folks who use Facebook and the other locations do it to connect with friends, family.

They found that people were far less interested in learning about companies and products.

It’s true, consumers have always talked about what they like and don’t like; and social media gives them a platform to take that discussion more public and on a global scale … instantly.

The problem is many companies and their marketing people treat social media as a one-way communications tool.  You know, a tool for pushing their marketing agendas.

Unfortunately, most of the folks on the social media sites don’t agree.

Or, as Gallup concluded, “Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be.”


Target of Billions – S ocial media is an excellent way for young and old to stay in contact, share information/ideas and obtain information on things they’re thinking of buying or using.  Many feel ads are an unnecessary intrusin.  

The ubiquitous availability of information on the Web means they control the information … pricing, availability, competitive advantage, quality of products and service/suppor t. It means he/she is better equipped to make the right decision the first time.

Then they check with friends, family and user comment locations before they visit the store or web site.

But don’t throw in the towel.

Instead, shift your social medial efforts to what delivers the best marketing return … customer satisfaction--especially from your strongest, most visible/vocal and most committed customers.

They’re the people others go to for ideas, recommendations.  The folks others listen to.


Focused Influence – Thanks to the global Internet and Web, people can research an idea, product or service very quickly and often use social media as a source for information on product and company quality, benefits and performance--even before they visit the store or web site.

As Gallup recommended, “ “Customer engagement drives social engagement — the degree to which consumers will work for or against an organization within their social networks — not the other way around.”

Always keep in mind that social media is highly personal and conversational.  It’s no place for a sales pitch.   

While social media can’t be used to qualify/quantify likes and followers, it should be used to strengthen relationships with existing customers and assisting new customers…seamlessly.

Accent Marketing found that 72 percent of customers not only want to interact with brands using social media but also obtain assistance.

Because social media is open 24x7, many customers (75 percent millennials, 55 percent baby boomers) find it helpful to get answers to questions from other customers as well as company representatives.    

The company has to monitor, listen and be available to answer questions as well as respond to complaints and criticisms. Ignoring negative feedback is counterproductive and can only hurt your reputation.

After all, if you want new customers; the best way to do it is to take care of your existing customers.  


Keep in mind, social media enables people to message, comment, vote, blog, share, like, pin, tweet and see peer-curated content.


Always-on Devices – Millennials and Gen-Zers are never far from their mobile device where they exchange information, ideas, photos, videos and recommendations; and they often feel company ads are an intrusion.   As Mary Meeker, of KPCB, notes, they often really are bad intrusions.

It also allows marketing to listen, respond, test, crowd source, connect and engage with people who are their most valuable resource…customers.

Social media marketing isn’t what it used to be, the landscape has changed … significantly.

Management needs to approach it with a clear sense of purpose that aligns with company goals, objectives; and most of all, the customers.


If firms don’t, they will hear from customers and Perseus who said, “ Someday, someone was gonna have to say enough! This could be that day. Trust your senses. And don't look this b**** in the eye.”

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