Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Dirty Little Secrets: Social Media Is Terrible At Promoting Products

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 24, 2010

Social media is great at promoting social media experts but useless at promoting actual products and companies.

I hardly see any product or company discussions in my Twitter or Facebook streams. I see occasional gripes about airlines, cable TV service, and sometimes I'm asked to become a "fan" of a company on Facebook. But that's about it.

The fact that airlines lose luggage, are late, are rude, is not new, it's par for the course. Same for cable TV companies. Social media does nothing to improve airline service or inform me much about things I didn't already know about a product or company. As for joining a corporate Facebook fan page, one click is about the extent of that engagement.

Even advertising on social media doesn't work well -- the ad inventory is very cheap, a reflection of its effectiveness.

Yet social media is great at promoting social media experts who say that they advise corporations on their social media strategies. Or maybe social media is not good at promoting social media experts because I don't see the results of their work.

I do think companies need a social media strategy. But I think companies need more than just that, they need an overarching media strategy, which includes social and traditional media strategies tailored to each department, to each aspect of a corporation. It's all related and it's all important, because these days, every company is a media company -- and that means every company needs to master all the media technologies out there, the tools, and the best practices.

A social media strategy is not a standalone strategy but that's what is being pushed by many social media experts, probably because they only have experience in that narrow area. And how much experience can they truly have when social media is still so young?

My consulting work focuses on helping companies with their media strategies -- which is more than just social media. I've got extensive experience with traditional media and social media -- there are very few people that can claim the same broad experience.

I'm also working on a book project with two colleagues that is focused on this very important topic and what it means, when every company is a media company.

My consulting work helps pay for SVW, and it helps me continue working as a journalist. So if you need a hand, call me: 415 336 7547. I can evaluate your newsroom, I can give you a second opinion on your current media strategies, I can advise you on so much more than just social media.


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