Overreliance on Social Media Will Damage Your Brand

It's Good for Maintaining Relationships, but How Will New Customers Find You?

By Published on .

Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein
Last year, a friend of mine who is the CEO of a successful retail apparel brand gleefully told me how he cut his $5 million advertising budget, in lieu of a 100% Facebook/social-media strategy. "This Facebook is a game-changer," he explained, "and now, who needs paid ads? They're toast."

I remember feeling bad for him, as I knew he would one day have to invest doubly to make up lost ground, as his brand would fade over time with consumers. It's still too soon to know if I am right -- or if he is -- but I'm betting on me.

Big time.

If that was the only conversation with marketing decision-makers about how they are slashing media budgets and relying too heavily on social media for all of their promotional efforts, I wouldn't be alarmed. But I've had too many of those conversations recently. Brands that already have, or are planning to go dark, in favor of a Facebook page and a steady diet of Tweets.

Some of you might say I'm a hypocrite for feeling this way, as my agency is a leader in social media since 2004. I speak publicly about its attributes and have written frequently and glowingly about it in this column. And our clients are certainly benefiting from digital strategies, none of which are weighted all toward social media.

I love the power of the unfiltered consumer voice -- the dialogue between brands and customers as well as customers and customers, vendors and customers, agencies and customers. It's all good. It's just that I believe some marketers have gone too far in their reliance on all things Twitter. No doubt their brand awareness, and brand identity, will one day suffer.

My mother taught me that things in moderation won't hurt you. In this case, she's right. Social media belongs in the media mix. But it shouldn't be the entire mix.

How will customers find you? Why should they care about your product/service? What are you going to do when your competitors crank up their promotional spend and start taking your customers?

This message is simple -- the short-term delight of not spending any media dollars on advertising will surely have a long-term effect: brand erosion.

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