Idiotic Pursuit: chasing 550 million Facebook users

Luis Portiansky
April 28, 2011 — 1,580 views  
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Prospects seem to be dazzled by the number of users on Facebook.  They are seduced by the mega-number into thinking ‘there's gold in them there hills.'  Their reasoning is that any cohort that large must include a significant chunk of potential customers.  They are bewildered when I say "maybe, maybe not."  How can that be they retort, usually indignantly and with a look that says "this idiot is a marketing expert?" 

The sad but true situation is that many companies are spending much time, effort and resources chasing a mythical revenue stream in Facebook, and more broadly the social media world, that simply may not exist for them.  Because Facebook and social media activity gets so much attention across all media platforms, business owners and managers believe they must jump into breech lest they miss their golden opportunity.  I'll bet many would be miners thought the same thing during the gold rush days.  The problem is that for many companies - dare I say most - their well-intentioned efforts of creating blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter streams, etc. will not result in the ROI they expected.

The issue is that the huge Facebook user population may be irrelevant to your company.  Worse, chasing the Facebook crowd, a process I've coined the ‘idiotic pursuit', may be taking your focus away from activities that really could grow your business.  Marketing basics such as segmentation, targeting, direct marketing, developing a compelling value proposition, competitive analysis, branding and public relations, are being ignored.  It appears sound marketing best practices are not as ‘sexy' as social media activities.  I am not suggesting social media does not have a role in most strategic marketing plans.  For example, I believe most companies should have all top management and key staff create robust profiles on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn's networking and company profile features are easy to use and should be incorporated into any marketing plan. 

But if you want to grow your business you must develop an integrated marketing plan that takes into consideration the reality of your products and services, customers, the marketplace and your resources.  Having some young employees who are "good at Facebook and Twitter" does not constitute a social media plan. It certainly does not make a strategic marketing plan.  
There is no substitute for knowing your customers intimately. Understanding the ‘who, what, why, how, when, etc.' of their interaction with your company is critical to understanding what your marketing strategy should be and what role social media should have in the mix.
Would love to hear your thoughts.

Luis Portiansky

Marketing Outsourcers LLC

Luis Portiansky is Managing Director of Marketing and Strategic Planning at Marketing Outsourcers LLC (MO, Long Island and New York, NY), a boutique marketing and public relations consultancy.