When to Use and When Not to Use Social Media

And A Bunch of Resources to Help You Determine

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As a report from Michael Stelzner recently made abundantly clear, although the majority of marketers are using social media, most still have many questions about how to use it.

The Majority Use Social Media MarketingOne of the biggest questions marketers and business owners have about social media use is, "How do I measure its effectiveness?" AdAge looks at a pretty interesting study that shows ROI may be measurable.

Perhaps an even bigger question though is, "Should my business be using social media at all?"

As I (and many others, no doubt) have said before, there are always going to be variables to consider before you can really answer that question. While social media has a ton of potential to benefit businesses, there are cases where some business might want to avoid it. BtoB Online gives some examples (which are elaborated on this article):

1. You’re in a high-ticket business
2. You fight with your employees
3. Management skepticism
4. Strategic vacuum
5. Privacy and regulatory concerns

An article from Liana Evans at Search Engine Watch points to a study from Gartner indicating that by next year, 60% of Fortune 1000 companies will be involved with some form of online community that’s used for customer relationships. According to the study, half of them will fail.

Liana Evans"If half of these Fortune 1000 companies — with all of their resources — will fail, does that give any hope to the smaller businesses who venture into the social media realm?" asks Evans. "To be fair, smaller companies tend to have some advantages, such as being able to act faster in their social media efforts due to the fact of less "red tape" to deal with. However, in this area of online marketing, what it basically comes down to for any size company is understanding what is really involved in launching a social media strategy." She goes on to discuss the following tips:

1. Identify your audience
2. Define your success measurements
3. Plan a Strategy that Includes All Stakeholders
4. Be transparent
5. Recognize that it’s not about you

On the other side of the spectrum a Netpointers article talks about some things not to do:

1. Don’t try to invent your own version of something that already exists.

2. Don’t try to take advantage of every possible social media site out there.

3. Don’t try to sell your product on social media sites.

4. Don’t use social media if you want clear editorial control over your brand and message.

5. Don’t use social media solely as a link strategy.

6. Don’t engage in social media if your company is perceived as an unfriendly, arrogant, cynical, and uncaring company and you prefer to keep it that way.

Business owners and managers ultimately need to evaluate their goals, and project the effects of their social media strategies. Social media itself is not a strategy. It’s a channel. I don’t remember who originally said that, but it’s a good way to look at it. You might find success from social media in a completely different way than another equally successful business does.

I certainly don’t have all of the answers. Nobody does. In fact, you probably have more answers for yourself than anybody else. You know your business and your customer base better than anyone. That said, I have compiled a list of WPN resource articles that may get you thinking about ways you can apply your business to the channel that is social media.



Trade your Facebook Friends For a Whopper
Social Media Boosts local flavor
Tweeting for Tacos
Examples of Local Businesses Using Social Media
What the Most Popular Brands are Doing Right on Twitter


Trading Diggs for retweets
Driving Traffic with Facebook
How people are succeeding on Digg
Driving Traffic with Twitter


Social media – SEO Equation
Matt Cutts on Social Media Links in Google
Twitter – Improves Search Rankings
Social Networking Continues to Drive Mobile Search
Using Twitter Search
Link Building with Twitter


Socializing Advertising
Talking Social Advertising with StumbleUpon
Advertisers and Developers Monetize Social Media Apps


Twitter Book Shows Business Usefulness
59% of 100 leading retailers are on Facebook
Company Blogs Most Valued Social Media Tool
Social Media Marketing Tips from SMX
Listen and Think Before You Tweet (Applies to Other Networks as Well)
Facebook Just Became a Better Marketing Tool
Using Social Media for Your Small Business
Fighting a Bad Online Reputation and Keeping a Good One
20 Tips for Getting More Out of LinkedIn
Getting More Blog Readers and Twitter Followers
Social Media Marketing Thoughts from Experts
Measuring Success of Social Media for Business
Business Goals Where Social Media is Most Effective

These are just a few articles on WebProNews. If you know of some other great resources that could help businesses with their social media strategies, please share them.

When to Use and When Not to Use Social Media
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • http://www.westcoastvinyl.com/windows.html West Coast Vinyl

    Being online and using social media is a step in getting involved with your customer. This is all good, in building rapport and customer relation.

  • http://www.lexolutionit.com Maneet Puri

    Is there a ‘If’ to the use of social media?? I think all businesses can profit from promoting themselves online.

  • http://bernaisesource.com/blog Dan Greenfield

    Great tips – Three others immediately come to mind:

    Social media is not short term: Effective social media requires a commitment to engage regularly. You can’t turn it off like a promotion and then return later. What you may save in dollars, you will spend in time.

    Social media does not live in a vacuum: It must be tied to traditional media efforts with some degree of consistency. As I maintain, they must be blended.

    Social media is not a marketing or customer relations strategy: It must penetrate the company as a whole where customer service, marketing and product development work together to engage customers.

    Without this understanding, I advise against deploying a social media strategy.

  • http://www.herbsdb.com herbsdb

    Communication has always been used by marketing people using medias to make us buy and think in a certain way. Nothing new here, and yes its a good thing as we now live in a time where basically everyone can be a media outlet. With industrial media also referred as traditional media, marketers were able to control the production to get global reach. Media production required high cost and specialized skills and training. Not anymore! with the Internet and social media, its been years we have been saying that, preaching and educating marketers how to fit in that new paradigm. Marketers need to let the information go its way without any control of the end result and more importantly lets the masses take control of the information.

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    I’ve been using social media to help market my safety and security web site as well as raise awareness for its products for over a year now. It’s definitely a process and requires time to develop. I enjoy interacting with potential customers and helping them with their safety issues; something online merchants miss with no actual face to face contact like the brick and mortar stores. Thanks, Chris!

  • http://blog.hichamaged.net/ Hicham

    Social Media -for me- is a matter of communication and virtual interaction among other people which is something has its pros and cons.

    p.s. It’s very ineteresting -yet important- to check the resources mentioned in this article so thanks a lot for gathering them right here.

  • http://www.digital-clarity.com Digital Clarity

    I think it’s a good idea for a company to look at whether Social Media is suitable for them – the answer will generally be yes but without asking that question you may not spot possible problems before they arise.

    A Law firm may not benefit in the same way as a digital media company and to carry out the same actions for both would be the wrong.

    I also agree a lot of companies don’t know how and why they should engage in SMO, thinking it’s a place to advertise their products directly and wondering why they have no success.

    This is something we touched on in our own blog and would be worth a read for those interested

    Social Media offers a lot to virtually any business but it’s important to know how and when to use it.

  • http://www.caninedistemper.info Alexis

    All enumerated tips are very helpful. Social media offers so many things. Despite of that, we should always be aware on how to use it wisely.

  • http://www.veefna.com Accounting Outsourcing

    Nice Post.

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