When to Use and When Not to Use Social Media

    April 30, 2009
    Chris Crum

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.