Social media's rapid adoption has been primarily because it is cheap and cool. Being effective? Not so much.

Blasphemy? Not really. We have all read the high profile social media success stories and know they deliver "the goods." But the majority of the social media use I see "on the street" is pretty basic stuff:

  • Send out a press release, Tweet about it
  • Have a company event, put it up on a Facebook page
  • Come out with a new product, post it on your blog
  • Etc.

At this level of execution, social media is not the tip of the marketing spear, but just offering support to PR and other "exposure" functions. In cases like these, it is hard to isolate tangible results, leading a majority of marketers to doubt the effectiveness of their social media.

A recent study by Junta42 and MarketingProfs well documented this.

First, the good news: when close to 1,000 marketing directors were asked which content marketing tactics they now use, social media (less blogs) topped the list with 79% saying they are users:

Content marketing usage
But later the study came a different finding: despite marketers using social media more than any other tactic, it is also the tactic they least believe to be effective (only 31% do). Also, more than any other tactic measured, 69% of respondents, believe social media to be;"less effective" or "ineffective."Ouch! Not good ratings for a medium that prides itself on being highly measurable. What is going on here?

Confidence gap
Let's look at cost. While access to Facebook and Twitter (etc) are free, dedicating talent to get a social media program done right is not. As anyone reading this blog should know by now, good content is not cheap and a social media program is only as good as its content.

But marketers see this differently, Social Media might not be free, but deploying it can cost less than deploying any other tactic on the Junta42/Marketing Profs Study list.

And we cannot ignore the cool factor. I can't tell you have many companies have told me they deployed social media programs because their younger employees told them they had to do it.

The message for those of us advocating for a more engaged use of Social Media in business is simple: don't think because social media is everywhere that everyone thinks it is effective. Most marketers are still not convinced.

For now, social media is everywhere because it is cool and cheap. Someday, it might also become widely used, and used differently, because of its effectiveness. But if this study is to be believed, this time has not yet come.

Download the Junta42/Marketing Profs study