Social Media Marketing needs fixing!

While I had written this post much earlier, it has taken me a really really long time to publish it. I have been thinking about this for a while now and I guess its time to address it.

We in Social Media Marketing (SMM) are sitting on a huge problem, while we do have the ‘virtual’ numbers, here are some of the most glaring pitfalls of the medium:

We Don’t Own The Platform: This, in my opinion is the biggest problem. We think we own our Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and Pinterest Boards, but do we really? If they are accidently deleted, do you have a backup which you can restore? I have seen the trouble Brand Managers have gone through when their brand Pages got deleted by Facebook. You’d never have this problem if you owned the platform.

Marketing Silos: Every Social Media platform is different and unique from the other. This creates marketing silos where  you have to tailor your marketing communication according to the platform. E.g. You cant post images on YouTube. This ensures that your customer will never get to experience your full marketing campaign unless he visits all your SMM properties.

This leads us to another problem – an over-dependence on Facebook. Since all our marketing is so majorly focused on Facebook, we get into a false comfort zone, where we think contests mean engagement. We run all these meaningless contests and give out expensive gifts. All for nothing.

A lot of companies are more focused on campaign-based online properties than actually building communities for their brand, which brings me to another problem…

Can’t Control Look & Feel: Yes, SMM platforms allow you to ‘customise’ how your properties, but you cannot truly control how they look like.  You have to play within the boundaries of what can be done, which is always very limiting. It makes you like everyone else and stifles creativity. If I dont want to display dates on my Facebook status updates, I should have the control to hide them. Unfortunately not.

SMM platforms are also constantly changing their look and feel – it was Facebook the other day, before that it was Twitter and Google+ just recently. Would you be happy if someone changed your website layout every 3 months without informing you of it?

No Fan Details: The ultimate goal of every marketing campaign is to increase sales. Always. You may call it different names like Sampling, Branding, etc. but in the end, it all indirectly leads to Sales.

Seasoned marketeers know that if you can learn more about your customer, you can increase sales to them. However, inspite of investing so much resource on your SMM properties, you will hardly know anything about your Fans/Followers. You can learn much more about your customers from a website or email.

Focus on Wrong Metrics: There is absolutely no consistency of metrics on SMM platforms. Facebook is especially guilty of this. There are some crazy metrics out there like Fans/ Follower count, Newsfeed Impressions and People Talking About This.

A lot of brand managers get caught up in the race to increase fans/followers. The logic I have heard is that they will eventually monetise these communities. Its been 4yrs since I have heard this logic. People are still wishful.

Smart managers know that their only goal should be Sales. So if your purpose on SMM platforms is to provide Customer Support, then improved Customer Support should lead to increased Sales. There should be a metric created for this – internally.

Terrible Analytics: Before Facebook released its real-time analytics, the situation was terrible. Sometimes, data wasn’t available for more than 4 days! The situation on other platforms is even worse – Twitter and Pinterest have no robust analytics, while Google+ uses Google Analytics that was not designed for Social.

Everyone is an Expert: Let’s be honest, we have all called ourselves ‘SMM experts’ in the past (when it was more *cough* fashionable *cough*). However, we have quickly realised that you cannot be an expert in Social Media. Things are constantly changing. Just when you figure out how to optimise your edge-rank, Facebook will go and change something in their algorithm. Same with Twitter – try and reach too many people too quickly, you get labeled as spam.

That said, the barrier to entry in social media is so low (free, actually) that even a college drop-out can start his own ‘agency’ from the comfort of his bed. This ensures that everyone is trying to be different from the other. Suddenly, there are too many influencers and experts everywhere with their own theories on how things should be done. Some ideas have merit and some are just smoke screens.

I strongly believe that we need to re-look at our Online efforts. The offline-online campaigns not only need to be in sync but should compliment each other. I really like Ebay India’s current campaign. One simple message across the board – offline, TV, email, website and SMM. Good stuff!

Do you agree with these problems? What else can we do to fix Social Media Marketing?

Update: Just 5 mins after I published this post, I found this amazing comic from The Oatmeal. Its awesome and nails what I have been trying to say 🙂


  1. If i sum up, your major issue is – since you don’t “own a platform” thus don’t have reliable stats.

    To me, owning a platform for a company/brand is not a big deal. Problem will be to bring thousands of people to their platform everyday. And thats exactly why they choose FB, Twitter or any other site over creating their own platform.

    Second, we indians never have this concept of “engagement” due to
    a) Over Population
    b) Due to our cultural thing of not asking questions to our elders & thus expect that our younger’s should also not ask anything and should accept whatever we say.

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