Social Media: Free, Easy, and Magic! (NOT)

Let’s cut the crap. Having an Instagram profile is not a social media strategy. Nope, having a Facebook page is not enough either! It gets to a point where it’s not fun anymore! Getting twenty emails a day from self-proclaimed ‘social media gurus’ and another ten from ‘social media ninjas’ and many more from its ‘mavens’ and ‘masters’ and all the other smankers is just sad.

Having a popular account doesn’t qualify as social media expertise. Don’t get me wrong, Being popular is nice; good for the ones who are, but being a self-appointed expert… not as nice! Ask one of these “gurus” about how they would convert “Likes” or “followers” to a tangible result in your industry or what their long-term strategy is… then enjoy an “ummm” freeze! God forbid, tell them that your niche doesn’t need social media, and you’re dead!

Despite what many many people believe, social media is NOT as free, easy, or magic as these “experts” pitch in their “integrated social media plans.” This is just a naive misconception and here’s why:

Social Media is NOT FREE

First of all you’re paying for the service with your personal information, and they make money off of it, while you’re being advertising target. But that’s not all. Although having great content is necessary, it’s not enough. I mean Jonathan Perelman was so right:

Content is King, but distribution is Queen and she wears the pants.Jonathan Perelman

And doing a little research shows you that distribution isn’t as free as social media is (according to the mavens and gurus – I’m no expert though).

Facebook’s organic reach is… well, on the verge of being useless; so don’t count on the biggest network of all. Tweeting automated ninja-like links with Hootsuite and Buffer won’t help your ROI (Return on Investment). Sharing your posts’ featured images on Instagram (thank God you don’t have to make it even worse by cropping it now that Instagram allows other aspect-ratios than 1:1 – read about it here) or NoteApp screenshots won’t enchant a hashtag searcher.

To be successful on Facebook, unless you’re already an established brand in real 3D world, you need to pay for ads to reach people and create an audience (and this is just to reach them, not to convert them). On Instagram, although you can pay for advertising, you don’t have to; but you have to create strong interesting images and that won’t be so free. Same goes for Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and others. They all need relevant content created for them and that takes us to the second point:

Social Media is NOT EASY

While signing up for an account on social media is easy, turning it into a marketing channel is so not! Facebook “Likes” and Twitter followers don’t mean much by themselves (It’s not always about the numbers). Social media is another tool set that can be used to improve communications. And automated ‘thank you for following me’ DM on Twitter is not communication!

Social media is about building real relationships with real people, and I think we can all agree that it’s not easy. I mean, have you ever got married ten minutes into your first date?

That’s pretty much the same on social media. It takes time and genuine effort to build relationships. And an important question for your business would be that “is it worth it?” What will you get from spending all those resources? Will it magically increase your sale? Or your reach? Do you even wanna increase your reach?

Answering these questions will help you figure out whether you need social media as a part of your marketing plan or not. And whether you need a guru or master to help you with account creation and maybe their integration! (Tough job, I know.)

This is old and you probably have seen it before, but it’s worth watching it again, right?

Social Media is NOT MAGIC

I used to think this is so obvious, but encountering people (I mean business people) who actually quote the gurus and ninjas and consider their pitches to be “awesome,” I learned that it’s not. I don’t know why people think their presence on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram will help them magically improve their sales. I mean you can sell pretty much anything once, even if it’s crap. But for what it’s worth, social media will destroy you and your crappy product so fast that even fastest social media ninjas can’t save you!

Social media is a tool, but that tool is not a magic wand.Click To Tweet

Social media won’t magically help your marketing plan or your customer support either. I mean, it’s part of your plan, yes, but if your plan is not good, social media won’t automatically fix everything for you. Also, you’ll be safer if you don’t expect a social media guru or maven or master do it. (Oh, and by the way, here’s their difference! lol)


Social media is another communication tool and it can help many businesses in many ways, but it’s not a generic and automatic response to all your marketing and branding problems. They won’t get fixed just by having a Facebook page or an Instagram account.

Having the right expectations, strategy and plan that include social media can help your business grow. Social media won’t do it for you on its own.

To start the conversation, what’s your business and do you think social media can help you reach any of your goals or not?

Illustration by AGENT-X Comics

7 Comments Social Media: Free, Easy, and Magic! (NOT)

  1. Mamad August 31, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Social media is a great tool for business purposes, but what must be remembered about it is that the competition is even tougher on social media than other types of media. The interactive nature of social media makes it possible for the customers to actively participate in influencing the audience (the potential customers) by the experience they probably had with that product or service. Well this makes it hard to sell people crappy stuff, because you most likely have competitors and you have to bring your customers to a satisfaction point so they wouldn’t destroy you on the social media! How would it feel for a brand to exaggerate about their product on facebook if the top comment is “your product sucks and *the rival brand* eats you alive!”
    If the product is known as crappy, I would advise the vendor not to even think about social media. It would backfire!
    All in all advertising in social media might look free, but it’s much harder. Nothing good comes for free; you must either spend money or put a lot of effort into it.

    1. Behrouz September 3, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      I totally agree. The intangible cost of social media is quite high as it needs quality, and without quality it can simply be either useless or backfire.
      Thank you, Mamad

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  4. Thessauron November 16, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    You’re so right. This is the same as what SEO gurus once promised clueless companies. We can get you to rank number …… But so what? Does it really translate into sales? Does it really help if your website is crap? And like you said it’s not cheap too. The $$$ could very well be better spent on other marketing efforts.

    1. Behrouz November 16, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Exactly! It’s like a wave – each time for a new “buzz word!”

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