Social Media Marketing: When to Say When

In today’s Internet landscape it’s easy to assume that social media* is at the forefront of the Internet Marketing strategies game regardless of what our clients are trying to sell. After all, we spend a fair amount of time writing articles with titles like “How to use Facebook to…” or “Twitter: The Unknown Marketing Ideal”. But in reality, it’s not for everyone.

This very concept came up recently during a client call. While going over the “to-do” list for next month the client stated that we should stay away from social media. The company wasn’t interested. Not interested? In social media? Who isn’t interested in social media?

Rather than go through the myriad reasons how social media helps grow business in an attempt to sway the client, I decided to look into it instead. It didn’t take long for me to concede that the client may have been right.

The truth, it seems, is that social media isn’t for all clients, all the time. Here’s why. Different companies seek out certain audiences for their products. And if that audience, especially the more niched it is, isn’t utilizing social media then the argument to expand their marketing campaign into it is fairly weak.

Let’s say that you have a company that sells products designed specifically for young adult women. According to Mashable, reporting on a Pew Research Center study, Facebook is more appealing to women, aged 18-29 than to other demographic groups. In this instance, it makes sense then to utilize a social marketing strategy, focusing on Facebook, to reach the target audience.

However, the other side of the argument applies as well. If your company is aiming to sell products to men in their 50s then Facebook probably isn’t the best way to reach them from a marketing standpoint. In fact, the Mashable article notes that the older the target audience, the less likely they are to use social media.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of social media marketing especially if you’re a younger marketing professional. After all, we grew up around Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. It’s how we talk to our friends and keep in touch with others. It’s not uncommon to have 200+ friends and it’s easy to think that that’s 200+ potential client connections for a business. But in reality, we have to be smarter than that. We have to think like our company’s target customer and that isn’t always us.
Social media is an addition to what could be considered traditional marketing, not an end all, be all replacement.

When deciding whether or not to spend your time and your company’s marketing budget on social media, ask yourself, “Who are we selling our products to?” “What are the demographics for this product?” Once you have a firm grasp on those answers you can make an informed decision as to whether you should incorporate a social media strategy or spend your time pursuing other marketing goals.

*For this article’s purposes, “Social Media” is considered to be media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace, and Instagram.