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Social Media Is a Big Waste of Time

We didn’t choose that headline on a whim. No doubt social media is here to stay. But lately, there are deep and frequent marketers grumbling that hefty investments in social media (including content generation, curation and management) are not paying off. At all.

According to a recent study by Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently using social media for their businesses. And while 88% of them want to know how to measure their ROI, only 37% are able to do it. That’s a pretty big knowledge gap. According to a joint study from eConsultancy and Adobe, only 12% of all businesses in the U.S. can tie their social media campaigns to revenue. Twelve percent? Holy smoke.

What types of businesses can tie social media to revenue? Definitely B2C and B2B companies using discounts and coupons on platforms like Groupon and LivingSocial. Non-profits and start-ups have found social media platforms to be exceedingly effective at generating ROI — just check out Uruut or ALS’s Ice Bucket Challenge.

If you aren’t a non-profit or start-up or willing to give away margin, the question becomes “What benefits can I get from social media?” We contend that social media is fantastic for brand awareness, customer/prospect engagement, customer retention and customer service. If your goal is any one of these valuable marketing objectives, you should be investing in targeted social media. Used for any of these purposes, social media becomes a “table stakes” marketing tactic, much like direct mail, trade shows and public relations, as well as an important part of an integrated marketing campaign.

We think it’s high time organizations honestly re-examine the true outcomes of social media and measure SM investment along with similar marketing tactics intended to achieve those goals. Then, perhaps social media will be recognized as an excellent use of time and money.