A few days ago, I started a discussion on the 60 Second Forum that asked the question, “When is social media NOT right for a company?” The discussion stirred up a good amount of interest and feedback, so I thought I’d continue the conversation here.

(If you’d like to be part of the 60 Second Forum discussion on LinkedIn, click here. Or, you can simply leave a comment below.)

In the 60 Second Forum discussion, I said there are some businesses where a social media marketing campaign is not the right choice. The example I used was a friend of mine who owned a auto windshield repair store. He called me to ask my advice on launching a social media campaign for his business.

After asking him a series of questions, I came to the conclusion that social media would not be right for his business.

Why not?

Because for a social media campaign to work, you have to have a topic or a product that people are interested in being part of.

In How to Make Money with Social Media, we call this phenomenon “social media magnetism.”

Some companies, organizations or causes have a great deal of social media magnetism. Other companies have a little bit. And still other companies have negative social media magnetism. In other words, no amount of noise or promotion will ever get people to become part of some companies’ social media campaigns.

My friend who owned the windshield repair franchise had a business that had negative social media magnetism. Despite the clear need for businesses like his, nobody really thinks about windshields or windshield repairs until they have a cracked windshield. And when that happens, they simply do a search for the nearest windshield repair stores and then select the one with the lowest price.

(Sorry, Dave.)

All that said, there are times when social media is GOOD for a company. In fact, assuming that your product or service doesn’t have negative social media magnetism, social media can be right for you if:

  • You want to attract new customers to your business
  • You want existing customers to come back more frequently
  • You want an inexpensive way to connect with customers
  • You want customer feedback on a new product or service
  • You want to cross-promote one part of your business with another part of your business
  • You want to increase brand loyalty
  • You want to differentiate your brand from your competitor’s brand

All this leads me to my final question — Is social media all it’s hyped up to be?

No, social media isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. It’s just one more tool in the marketer’s tool chest. Yes, it’s a bright, new shiny tool, but no, it’s not always going to be the right tool to use 100% of the time.

When you’re analyzing your marketing strategy, remember that there are a number of perfectly viable alternatives to a social media campaign — print, radio, TV, outdoor, collateral, direct mail, paid search and email marketing are just some of the other tools that come to mind.

The bottom line: Social media is a terrific tool … some of the time.

What are your thoughts on all this? You can join the conversation, either on our LinkedIn discussion or in the comments section below.

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Posted by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer of the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. Jamie is also the co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media.