Last week, two specific conversations about Social Media and that state of things struck me. One being with a fellow mate who genuinely had a point when he mentioned that there are approximately over 75 million blogs in which only a handful few have many readers. Also, there are more people who writes, evangelizes about social media than actively listening and practicing it.

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The second one, being quite interesting which I had with one of my company’s top honcho who mentioned the power of listening being one of the most important trait of being a good marketer. Now putting it in a framework, I felt there is a wide yet subtle difference between *Social Media* & *Social Media Marketing*. Social media is a tool or to take it further, we can think it as a platform while Marketing is more of a channel.

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So this post is the outcome of those two conversations which led me to ponder deely about it and pen it down. What came out was 5 problems with social media marketing.

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First of all, lets start with what is Social Media (Source- Wikipedia)

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Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).

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I agree to wiki definition. If we read the bold words, it never tells us that social media is like marketing. Infact, if we put marketing, then the very authenticity and transparency is lost. But I do understand that to use a tool/platform to spread message is very important for any business. Infact, viral is one of the most important outcome that a social media marketer wants. But then we really can’t agree with Social media being Social media marketing.

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So five problems which I believe is inherent in social media marketing are:

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1. Viewing social media as being a new marketing channel, when actually they are communication channels.

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2. Since social media is viewed as a marketing channel, attempts are made to push marketing messages through these channels.

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3. Attempts are also made to directly monetize the social media efforts which most often than not fall flat on the ground.

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4. It’s about building a real relationship with your audience and not marketing or pushing messages across the board.

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5. Viewing social media as a channel only to create buzz. Now that is fine but without active listening, it won’t see its broad daylight. Also social media is just to amplify public opinion and in the process may be, just may be it will spread across to give enough traction.

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To end it all, before getting into social media, we should be aware of our goals. Like for example,

  • Is it to increase awareness and credibility?
  • Is it to increase online conversations?
  • Is it to create a community of unified spirits who may turn out to be evangelists?

Finally the easiest way to fail at ‘social media marketing’ is to use social media as a way to broadcast your marketing messages with a goal to sell more stuff!

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