Has Social Media Marketing Lost Its Way?


The first time I ever tweeted about a company and got a tailored response felt like serendipity. It's easy to trivialize it now, but that first one-to-one interaction was a major breakthrough for me in the way companies could communicate with their customers. A whole new channel had opened up -- one that was at once more personal and more expansive than anything that had ever preceded it.

Fast forward six years. Today, the majority of customer comments on social media go unanswered. Social spam is on the rise, and company tweets often read more like broadcast messages than genuine shares. Has social just gone completely off the rails?

If it has, it sure didn't start there. And it doesn't have to end there. One of my favorite lines from Dharmesh Shah’s ‘Culture code’ talk encapsulates this social phenomenon marketers have experienced: “We start out exceptional. As we grow, there is a dark force that pulls us toward average. If we regress to the mean, we fail. It’s that simple.”

Social media is too important to “regress to the mean.” We have to stop ourselves from slipping into the same bad practices that have troubled email marketing for so long. To push ourselves further, we ought to keep an eye on some of the trends that have been bubbling up in social media marketing today, and challenge each other to overcome them. 

Here's what I'm talking about.

What are we overcoming, exactly? We're overcoming what we turned social media into. Social media is, by definition, a social channel.

Let's stop talking about social media for a minute. Let's just talk about being social. What does that mean? What are social interactions? Meaningful social interactions typically:

  • Occur one-on-one or in smaller groups whose members have something in common;
  • Draw on context, historical or otherwise, to make the conversation more meaningful;
  • Have a purpose, whether to delight, to inform, or to help.

Alright, now let's go back to social media marketing. What have most social media marketing interactions turned out to be? One-way, impersonal, broadcast messages. Marketers have taken social media from this:

by Kipp Bodnar



HubSpot all-in-one marketing software helps more than 8,000 companies in 56 countries attract leads and convert them into customers.

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