5 Things Social Media Marketers Should Stop Saying

Social Media Marketing is one marketing channel.  I read much of what social media people say about their profession.  It’s useful. Usually informed.  And sometimes naive.

Lately, I’ve seen some strident criticism in the channel and I think it is warranted.   One blogger said that saying you are a social media marketing expert, by itself, is like saying you are expert at getting the bread out of the freezer,  when the point is to make a sandwich.

I think he makes a good point.  Here’s my unvarnished take on why “the backlash” is good feedback.

Some of the social media echo chamber dogma originates from people who don’t have sophisticated business or marketing experience.  They are discovering VERY basic tenets of business and marketing through the prism of their otherwise sophisticated social marketing skills.

Lots of us gray hairs, who think social media marketing does matter, cringe when we read parts of their breathlessly enthusiastic posts.  So here’s 1 caveat and 5 things to help (typically young) social media marketing practitioners avoid a career backlash.


Remember that you didn’t discover or invent marketing, sales, relationships, human nature and/or trust. (Or the business model of your company.)  When you discover a basic broad marketing or relationship tenet, check to see if maybe you aren’t just the last person to arrive at the party.

5 Things Smart Social Media People should stop saying right now.

Stop saying…

1.    It’s about relationships.

All of marketing and sales has always been about relationships.

When Og, the Caveman, was putting together his “hunting buffalo cave wall” campaign, he was quoted as saying “It’s about relationships”.

For me, hearing “It’s about relationships” is like hearing those 40 year old classic rock songs that I once was breathlessly enthusiastic about.


Marketing is about relationships.  We know that song very, very well. When you say “It’s about relationships”, experienced people take a deep breath and pray you will follow it with stats, measures, customer data and relevance to our bottom line. Do it.

Stop saying…

2.  It’s about relationships.  You can’t measure my ROI.

And stop saying this corollary often offered:

“What’s the value of a handshake?’

See? It can’t be quantified.”

Wrong.  Bold type wrong.

Get me a million handshakes.  I’ll quantify it.

Good marketing and business people quantify this stuff.  They measure and create models that predict outcomes.  Business people know the value of a qualified lead, the net present value of a customer, what it costs to get a new customer, vrs. what it costs to retain customers (a strength of SM).  Brand advocates and fanatics were being cultivated before this year’s version of social media marketing was conceived.

Marketing, and especially sales, measure all those hypothetical “handshakes”.   Someone in your company is going to measure your ROI.  It should be you.

…and Ok, now I’m just piling on but it matters

Stop saying…

It’s about relationships. You can’t measure my ROI… 

3.  …because I don’t have a direct effect on sales.

This is career advice.

Never say any version of that if you believe you are a marketer.  Never.

You must have, at least a plausible theory and specific measures of how you support and increase sales inside of the specific business model you are supporting.

Investment, expense, revenue,  profit, and cash on hand, are  “the score” in the great game of business. (Are you only expense?) To say you don’t affect sales is to say you provide a poor return on investment.  You wouldn’t want to say that.

Figure out your positive benefits and measure them.

And finally… stop saying…

5.  Social media is not sales.

This is also bad for your career.  Change your mind set on this.

First, own up that YOU (we!) are selling.  Everyone is selling at some level. So what are you selling?  Do everything you can to make your efforts directly support sales.  Period.  We understand how building brand equity (not a new concept)  supports sales.  CRM is another old business term. That’s customer relationship management.  If that’s what you do, fine.  Measure it. Brag about it. Get more of it.  Even occasionally MAKE a sale!

Hug a sales person today.  He/she will probably buy you lunch.

Marketing and sales understands the prospect funnel and sales process.  Social media should live in the sales process in your organizations business model.   Quantify it. Brag about it if the numbers are good.  Then make them better.

Social Media is about having good authentic relationships, where trust and mutual benefit is exchanged and value is created for all the parties.  Right?

That’s exactly what good sales people have always done.

Business executives understand social media.  They are waiting, not always patiently, for SM practitioners to understand business.


4 Responses to 5 Things Social Media Marketers Should Stop Saying

  1. Some great points. Reminds me of David Frost, on the BBC in about 1968, reading a letter from a viewer. “I would like to inform all those young bucks who think that they invented sex in 1968, that I invented it in 1947.”

    Most of the social media “experts” are self-proclaimed and shallow, but we must avoid sounding like grumpy old farts.

  2. Mike Coombs says:

    Thanks Graeme. Ha! You have my number! But I don’t mean to malign the craft. I think those same self proclaimed folks AND us grumpy old farts are going to develop amazing ways for us to choose the people, products, and passions that we choose to explore. I’m just saying, follow the money. It is an honorable and learned pursuit.

    • I didn’t think that you were maligning the craft!

      You are quite right about following the money, Mike. People and their human needs and motives haven’t changed, so the fundamentals of marketing should be unchanged too.

      I do believe, however that the internet and social media have brought such transparency and abundant information that buyers can know much more about their choices and about the reputation and performance of the seller. Marketers are becoming less able to get away with bullshit, to lie, exaggerate, manipulate and steal people’s time. I believe that we, as marketing’s wise and experienced practitioners (sounds better, don’t you think), have the opportunity to lead the change that is taking place. Instead of “doing marketing” to people, as a manufacturing production line does things to passing products, we must lead the charge in providing information, emotional support, reassurance and persuasion to buyers who seek our help. We must see our fundamental role as serving buyers honestly and ethically, in order to ultimately promote the business of the seller for whom we work. I love the idea of being proud to sell. And the money follows!

      This is one of the themes of a book I am writing.

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