Asking Too Much of Social Media

As social media grew up, it wanted to be what every other marketing channel is. Early on, there was a desire to prove skeptics wrong and show business value the way other channels showed business value. In that process it lost sight of what it is really good at.

There are success stories about social media driving high quality leads and sales conversions. But often the cost per acquired lead and or cost of a first time sale attributed to social media is many times higher than that of search, events, or paid media.

At some point, I believe marketers gave up trying to justify the value of building advocates and strengthening bonds and just started measuring social media the same way as they measure other channels and focus too much on last click attribution and reach.

Cocktail Party or Tupperware Party?

Marketers initially described social media as an online cocktail party. They directed brands to listen carefully to the conversation, have a voice, a point of view and carefully join the conversation to meet new people and create lasting relationships.

As social media has become an integrated part of the marketing mix, those cocktail parties are becoming Tupperware parties.

At the end of the day we need to sell more Tupperware, but in doing so, our true friends and neighbors aren’t coming over as often.

When determining the business goals of social media, its okay to measure things like reach, impressions and conversions, those are not going away. But it’s not always about the last click. Market softening, peer validation and post-purchase advocacy is what social is naturally good at.


  1. “From cocktail party to tupperware party” …great analogy.

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