When You Should NOT Use Social Media

Everyone is talking about social media. How do we use it, how do we resource it, what is the message, what is our strategy? Agencies are building their social media departments, consultants are rushing from client to client presenting a case for social media and companies are aligning internal teams to implement and manage social media tactics. With all the buzz everyone is asking if they should get involved, whether a new grad looking to brand themselves to land that first job or a large corporation seeking to communicate with customers.


Is social media really for everyone? Are there cases when you SHOULDN’T be using it at all?

According to B-to-B, a magazine for marketing strategists, there are definitely scenarios when social media should be avoided. In a recent article, they listed what these were:

1. You’re in a high-ticket business: The article recommends that businesses with only a few customers who each spend tens of millions of dollars with the company each year are better off not using social media. Instead, face-to-face interactions and phone calls will still work better.

2. You fight with your employees: In some businesses, management and employees are constantly at odds. (An example was given of a unionized workforce where management-labor strife was common). This is also not the type of company that should encourage employees to communicate directly with customers via social media.

3. Management skepticism: If management doesn’t believe in social media, then employees who have been told for years that public communication needs to be filtered will be hesitant to try out a new medium which requires them to speak openly. In this scenario, management needs to encourage and reward participation to make social media work. If they don’t, it will fail.

4. Strategic Vacuum: Don’t do social media just to do social media. If a company doesn’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, then there will be nothing to measure and no way to determine success. Just as with any other initiative a company takes on, there needs to be an objective…and that objective shouldn’t be to distribute a press release.

5. Privacy and regulatory concerns: If you work for a company where what you say in public could send you to jail, proceed with caution. You’ll probably even need lawyers involved (sigh).

Our approach at Lessing-Flynn is to integrate social media platforms as part of the larger marketing plan. Similar to other mediums of communication, sometimes you recommend a corporate twitter account to help achieve overall marketing goals, and sometimes it does not make sense.  Some other things we encourage clients to consider:

6. No Budget: Sometimes there is a misconception that social media comes without cost. If time is worth nothing, then that is correct. Whether it is your time or someone else’s, you are paying for it. It is simply bad practice to put forth the effort to set up your social media platforms then walk away and not tend to them. You must dedicate resources to make it successful.

7. Weak Content:  If social media were a race car, content would be the high octane that propels it.  With more and more brands entering the social media arena, content is rapidly becoming the differentiator of success! The content you produce has to have real value to someone – your target audience. If you don’t see yourself developing original content, perhaps you can leverage some from your suppliers, manufacturers, associations or even customers.  Don’t enter the arena without determining what that content is.

Bottom line – don’t be afraid to try! We encourage all our clients to think and plan before they leap. I told a client the other day that social media really makes no sense for them at this time. They aren’t ready and it isn’t the best use of their time or resources today. Social media works well when clients understand why they are doing it and have practices and structures to support it.

Author – Jessica Held