Does your organization have a person – or team – dedicated to social media marketing? Is social media marketing an important part of your organization’s marketing strategy? If so, you might want to rethink your strategy, as recent research has found that marketing mixed with social media is not necessarily a good combination.
Think about your personal use of social media. Why are you using it? If you’re like most people, you use social media to keep up with family and friends, to follow social trends – in other words, to be social. You’re using a different part of the brain’s neuro-network. So when you encounter a marketing message while browsing social media, it sets up a type of antagonistic reaction between the social intelligence and nonsocial intelligence parts of the brain. Thus, we try to protect our social connections when confronted with a threat to the connection (i.e., a marketing message). An example: You are just about to sit down to dinner with the family after a long day at work when the doorbell rings. You open the door to find a person selling magazines. How does that make you feel?
Social neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Lieberman says that we are creatures with deep, physical needs for belonging. We experience pain from social separation and rewards from social acceptance in the same way we feel physical pain and rewards. And so, we see and protect ourselves against threats to our social connections fiercely, doing so "whether the instance of social rejection matters or not."
Another study from the University of Maryland that looked at 170 million unique users of 3,000 brands on Facebook found that negative word-of-mouth is typical and can damage brand performance. This is even more true for brands with larger followings.
Organizations with successful online communities have built the communities outside of the marketing department because they understand the difference between groups that crave belonging versus those that are primed for conversion.
Bottom line: Social media is not the proper place for marketing. It’s akin to a telemarketing call during the Super Bowl. You want to create positive feelings for your brand, not negative feelings.