Is Social Media in Business a Fad?

John Hope-Johnstone

Bom dia. The title of this blog (above), coming from a person who makes a living giving seminars on how to use social media for brand promotional purposes, seems a little heretical.

Social media for purely social purposes will continue to grow exponentially. Social media is a great boon to society, especially as the population ages.

We are observing that one of the most rapidly growing social media segments is the 55+ age group. There is a reason for this and it speaks to the societal good that the Internet and social media can provide. It can keep far flung families together and in the older segment can decrease the feeling of isolation that so often comes with age.

Marketing has been fast to jump on the band wagon of social media and I have been a great proponent of adding social media and social networking to the marketing mix of organizations.

Has there been a little too much hype to social media as a marketing tool? I think the answer is yes. Does it have a place in the marketing mix? Again, the answer is yes. We must remember that social media is not an ANSWER to your business problems, it is an ENABLER to the consumer.

Used wisely and in the right place, social media can be integrated brilliantly into the marketing arsenal, especially in the realm of Public Relations.

Using social media as a cheap replacement for other tried and true marketing tools, is a recipe for disaster. The benefit is found in the synergy!

Social media is NOT cheap! It is time consuming, as all good communications  are. It will provide good returns but you are going to have to put a lot of staff hours into it and commit to the long term.

The disappointment in the business world stems from a lack of ROI. Considering the analytically rich environment that social media metrics provide, it is amazing that ROI cannot be achieved.   Perhaps it is a case of over abundance, almost a drowning in a sea of unfamiliar data.

The following chart from shows that the jury is out for a full 47% of marketers as to the value of social media.

It is foolish to ask people to compare the effectiveness of social media to other marketing activities. All marketing tools are symbiotic and build on each other. The older legacy marketing activities have great track records and the ROI as found in conversion studies are well documented. Social Media and Social Networking are the new kids on the block, still trying to find out which gang they want to join.

In April of 2010 also reported on an R2 Integrated Study that indicated that 65% of brand marketers in the US did not believe that social media had significantly added to their profit margins. Again, a follow-up would be of interest to find out if the 35% who did find it added value, operated with a social media strategy with the proper metrics for measurement, as opposed to the 65% that didn’t feel it helped.

There are very few marketers who don’t feel that social media has a place in their marketing arsenal. Right now, I believe many businesses are plunging into social media due to a fear of being left behind. “Everyone else is doing it” is an answer I hear at many of my social media seminars.

Applied properly, social media is a great addition to any businesses marketing arsenal. It should NOT be oversold, any more than any one marketing tool is a panacea that will solve all business problems.

In July of 2009 marketing executives were surveyed as to where they were looking to use social media in their marketing:

In June of 2010 another survey revealed that expectations had not been fully realized. Brand awareness came only 13 percentage points below expectations, which considering the difficulty of measuring brand awareness, except by large and expensive studies, I would say that brand awareness is an area of marketing in which social media will eventually shine.

The only two areas that indicated outperforming expectations were; customer retention, and internal communications.

So in areas that can be truly classified at “communications” such as; customer retention  and staff communication, social media exceeded expectations.

This will change, and I fully expect that brand awareness will exceed expectation in the 2011 studies, as marketers become more savvy at using social media and in gauging its effects on brand awareness.

Thank you for following me on this blog and reading this blog post. Please leave a comment. I value your opinions and ideas.



  1. oh its not a fad but I think it will be a part of any successful business plan is social marketing ,, but it does change the dynamics of getting your name and brand out there. ,,,commercial loans

  2. Great blog John cheers Dave !!!

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