Is the Hoopla Over Social Media Marketing the Biggest Myth Ever?

social“Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be.”

That’s a bold statement, but it comes from premier research company Gallup, which recently surveyed more than 18,000 consumers about the influence of social media on their buying decisions.

According to Gallup, “Sixty-two percent said they had no influence at all. Even among millennials (those born after 1980), whom companies often think of as the core social media audience, 48 percent said these sites were not a factor in their decision-making.”


But it makes sense. Even as social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — to name three — plumb the depths of their advertising options and offer something new seemingly every day, users of these sites may react by steeling themselves against the marketing onslaught.

Besides, that’s not why people use these sites, according to Gallup’s data, published this by the Wall Street Journal.

Gallup research shows that “the vast majority of consumers (94 percent) who use Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking channels do so to connect with family and friends. They are far less interested in learning about companies and/or their products, which implies that many companies have social media strategies in place that may be largely misdirected.”

Double ouch.

What to do? For starters, companies that assume they can use social media to increase brand awareness and augment a customer base need to broaden their focus.

“If companies want to acquire new customers, their best bet is to engage their existing customers and inspire them to advocate on their behalf,” advises Gallup. “Customer engagement drives social engagement — the degree to which consumers will work for or against an organization within their social networks — not the other way around.”

In other words, you have to make them like you before they’ll bang the drum for you on social media sites.

“Gallup has consistently found that customer engagement is influenced in large part by how well a company aligns all of its touch points,” notes the WSJ. “Social media do not exist in a vacuum, and consumers rarely interact with companies through these channels alone.”

The entire article is a must-read for today’s social media-obsessed marketing professionals.