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There Are Lies, Damn Lies – And Social Media Marketing

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

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OK, so hopefully you’re on board with the notion that social media marketing has changed business, that the popularity of social networking sites has changed customer relationships, so that companies can no longer promote their wares in the same way that they did a few years ago.

You get that the customer is now in control, and that by the time they contact you they’ve already done their homework. You understand that your marketing department, your sales team – in fact your entire organization – needs to realign itself to fit the expectations of an increasingly more-demanding, more fickle customer base.

So you’ve read a few books, subscribed to a few blogs, maybe even forked-out your hard-earned cash to attend a social media marketing conference or three.

You get back to work, itching to put into practice all that you’ve heard, with your head full of “customer engagement” this, and “remarkable content” that. You start a company blog, set-up a couple of social media accounts, and start “listening”, start “engaging” and start contributing to the “conversation”. You’ve well and truly drunk every drop of the Inbound Marketing KoolAid.

Six months down the line you see that actually, contrary to what you were told – or sold – there isn’t a line of customers beating a path to your door. That your company and its business value is still as unknown to your target markets as it ever was. That you’ve burned the midnight oil for six straight months hitting social media sites, yet got precious little to show for it. Mind you, that Twitter profile background that you commissioned looks pretty damn cool…

What went wrong? Simple: you were lied to.

Today, internet-enabled marketing is a little like the Wild West. There are no hard-and-fast rules or processes, since social media marketing welcomes (if not positively encourages) innovation. However, like most things technology-based, there’s an element of “what’s cool today is old-hat tomorrow.”

Similarly, as in the days of the Wild West, there are plenty of snake oil salespeople who are more than willing to share their ‘ social media wisdom’ with you – for a shekel or two.

Here are a few outdated notions, exaggerations – or downright lies – that today’s internet marketer might encounter on their (virtual) travels:

“Social Media is The Cure”

But what if I’m not sick? Sure, social media marketing might be just what the doctor ordered for many organizations. However, what many so-called “Marketing 2.0 Experts” fail to acknowledge is that, right here and right now, there are certain companies in certain industries that are doing just fine thank you very much – without any of this newfangled social media stuff. If your new and existing customer base AREN’T on Facebook/Twitter/GooglePlus/Whatever, and DON’T want you in their email Inbox, then there’s nothing broke that needs fixing.

“Companies Are Actively Embracing The Change”

Yeah, good luck with that. Ten will get you five that the majority of people in your company aren’t going to play ball.

Changing existing corporate culture is the single biggest hurdle a marketer will face in trying to create a more social media-centric organization. Change isn’t going to happen unless everyone – from CEO downwards – is on board and convinced of the merits.

“Traditional Marketing Is No Longer Relevant”

Another sweeping generalization. At the end of the day, the most appropriate method of reaching a particular customer base is totally dependent upon that customer base – is has nothing to do with your own wishes and preferences. That’s not to say that traditional marketing can’t learn from (and even integrate with) some of the new Marketing tools. It’s just an acknowledgement that some people still prefer to have a printed mailer in their hand rather than be forced to scan a QR code, for example.

More than that, many of the concepts of “traditional” marketing remain valid today. Just because the packet’s been updated doesn’t mean the ingredients have changed.

“Create Great Content And Your Customers Will Find You”

Don’t hold your breath. Sure, having good content is certainly very important. But unless you’re out there pointing your customers to it, you’re going to be disappointed. Customers didn’t fall over themselves to find you before. They’re not going to suddenly start now.

“The Death of { insert communication medium here }”

Blogging is dead. Email is dead. Twitter is dead. Google Plus is launched and five minutes later everyone says that Facebook is dead. Or maybe it’s Google Plus that’s dead.

Could it be that, perhaps, none of these things are dead, and that you’re just not using them as effectively as you could be? Perhaps the approach for Google Plus, for example, isn’t the same as for Twitter? (hint: it’s not).

I’m sure that you can come up with many more examples of such snake oil pitches and, if you’ve been bitten by any of them, then I feel for you.

Inbound marketing techniques and social media marketing channels are, without doubt, an extremely powerful and flexible tools. But that’s all they are: tools. The fundamental principles of commerce, of marketing and of sales haven’t changed. They’ve simply had to evolve as customers themselves have evolved.

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About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha is CEO and founder of KEXINO. He's been a marketer since the days of 56K modems, lectures on marketing and behavioral economics at a European business school, and was noted as one of the top 100 global business influencers by (those wonderful people who make financial software).

Originally from London, today Gee lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son.

Find out more about Gee at Follow him on Twitter at KEXINO, on Facebook at, or on LinkedIn at


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