Is social media the friend or foe of a marketer?

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“What Social Media does now, with brutal efficiency, is expose weak offerings, poorly developed programs, manipulative lead gen practices and BS laden marketing campaigns.”

A top marketing expert and good friend, Gregg Meiklejohn, recently wrote a very thought-provoking piece about the true value of using social media for B2C lead generation efforts.  His point is not that Facebook and the like are not without merit, but that it’s not as valuable as you’d think.  While the essay is aimed at school marketers, I think that the arguments hold true for every type of B2C business.

Gregg points out that social media advertising is different from search advertising where someone is looking for a product or service:

Facebook is interruption advertising. Let’s say you are hanging out on FB commenting on the pictures of your friend’s cat. From the right side of the screen, ads are screaming at you to buy cat food…Interruption. You click on the ad and it takes you off on some little journey of persuasion and away from the cat. Some of these interruptions are very sophisticated, and some utterly tasteless attempts to interrupt your day. But when you look at the math, the click-through and conversion rates just do not make financial sense. At best Social Media Advertising is an interruption marketing tactic just like radio or display advertising.

He makes a lot of other great arguments, but perhaps the most pointed one is that social media’s greatest strength is one that could actually hurt businesses — allowing groups of people to trash a sub-par company:

What Social Media does now with brutal efficiency, is expose weak offerings, poorly developed programs, manipulative admissions practices and BS laden marketing campaigns. Going forward, any of these misgivings will be met with a stiff slap to the face. Complaints get archived ‘forever’ and accumulate online. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

How this will initially play out is in a drop in your internet lead flow and conversion. Interest dries up because prospects are self-selecting, choosing to opt out of any meaningful conversation with your school.  To mitigate negative opinion online you can run online reputation management processes, flood the internet with positive fluff about your school, but it is just a patch. Consumers today are pretty smart and often jaded.

It’s a very entertaining piece, so I encourage you to read the full post at

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