Social Proof

Is Social Media Marketing A Waste of Time? I Think Not

Social ProofLast week I was reading a post on Mashable by Todd Wasserman, Let’s Face it: Most Social Media Marketing Is a Waste of Time. This isn’t the first post I’ve seen by an author that’s discouraged with social media and I’m certain it won’t be the last. So, is social media a waste of time? I’m not here to slam anyone; I just want to take a deeper look at the question.

I guess that would depend on our goals, how we gauge the results and how we are working it. Now, for the sake of this post, I’m referring to brands and blogs and not how much time our family members spend of Facebook.

Social Proof

Numbers MatterWe’ve been talking a lot about online reputation here on Hot Blog Tips and social influence is a HUGE part of that. Just like the controversial post about Scores And Ranking, social proof is an important part of branding because it matters to others. Is “Post A” better than “Post B” because it has 100 times more retweets? Of course not, but it does matter. Why? The definition of social proof alone answers that but as long as it matters to the masses, it counts. We can try to stand our ground and say,

I’m not giving into the social rhetoric… I dont care how many people tweet, like or +1 my posts, I know I’m a great blogger.

Well, that may be true and eventually that greatness may catch up with itself but wouldn’t it be so much easier with a social boost?

If your blog visitors see other visitors commenting and sharing in high numbers, you just gained a lot of credibility in many eyes. Whether it’s deserved or not, is really not the question. How much is your car worth? It’s worth as much as someone else is willing to pay. Whether it’€™s fair or not really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but nothing fake will continue long term so it’s our responsibility to earn the credit we are granted.

Google’s In The Game Now

The launch of Google Plus was a game changer – big time! As far as I’m concerned, given a choice between Facebook and Google Plus, I’m putting my money on G+ every time. I’ve already stated why in Google Plus Is More Powerful Than Facebook, but it has to do with both search and referral traffic, something you can’t get anywhere else, yet.

Traditional Business Thinking

It’s funny, as bloggers, we sometimes think as consumers and at other times we’re thinking like small business. The latter is fine but traditional business thinking is slow at grasping the true benefit of social media. I’m not referring to the mega-brands that have made their marks in Facebook and YouTube with huge multi-million dollar campaigns; I’m talking about the average small business we see everyday struggling to make an online presence work. Even many businesses online can’t think past traditional online marketing, e.g., CPM, PPC, or ROI.

Social media campaigns cannot be treated as a form of traditional advertising. To compare social media campaigns to mainstream advertising such as print ads, broadcast media, direct mail, billboards or tangible point-of-purchase advertising is a mistake. Social media is about engagement and interaction.

Tracking Social Media Is A Headache

Setting up a nice Adwords campaign is a beautiful thing for those that have mastered the process. I personally know a business owner that generates as much as $10 million a month in revenue with PPC campaigns. What does he love most about the process? The tracking! With the detailed analytics, he can make constant tweaks and adjustments that bring the absolute most from his investment.

So how do you convince a guy like that; that he should worry about social media? You don’t, you get out of his way and let him continue to excel. It would be great to watch a self-made pro like that master social media but the elusive nature of the social progress, the lack of detailed tracking, is a turnoff for many business owners. Would he enjoy the same results with social media marketing that he is with PPC? Absolutely not but how many of us have $50,000 a week to invest?

How do we know that the next door neighbor didn’t recommend a product because he/she seen an update/tweet/post on a social media site? Where are the stats for that? If Uncle Henry buys a new smartphone and brags endlessly on Facebook about it, how many in his social reach might decide to take a look at that same phone?

Online Sales And Social Media

In my opinion, it’s a mistake to try to “sell” in a social campaign. Just like email marketing, you’re not trying to make a sale on social media websites; you’€™re trying to funnel that qualified traffic to the sales page or website that will make the pitch.

So What Good Is Social Media?

What about website traffic? E-email lists? What about social proof? These are several benefits of social media that cannot always be determined by simple analytics because we don’t know how many people made purchases, will make a purchase in the future or will recommend that product, due to their experience on a social media site.

Social Media Marketing Is a Waste of Time? I couldn’t disagree more. Is MOST Social Media Marketing Is a Waste of Time?€“ Probably, but that’s because most businesses can’t think past traditional marketing while others are still in that “mass link dropping” mode.

Your Thoughts?

Are you struggling to see where social media fits into the grand scheme of blogging? Do you think it’s critical or optional? A waste of time? I’d love to know your thoughts. Your comments are always welcome here. 🙂

Related Social Media Post:

About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. Great post! I struggle with this question a lot as some people just don’t see the value in it, especially when they think they should use it to get leads. Social Media is not a waste of time in my eyes because it gives the public an inside look in to a brand, which you don’t get will bilboard or print ads.

    A lot of brands have not caught up with the trends of the typical casual user, but it will happen this year is my prediction. Again, great post!

  2. I made an assumption that someone would have responded before me; that is, unless you’re moderating comments. lol

    I’m going both ways these days. While I agree that having social media around “can” help one gain more influence and potential customers, if that’s what we’re after, I’m also finding that in many ways social media fights against us if we wish to have a business presence.

    I have a Facebook business page; all we have to say is “edgerank” and that ends the conversation there. I have a G+ community. I got a lot of people to sign up initially, but to date I think I’ve only had 3 people participate in a discussion on anything. Are other people reading and taking in what I, and others have to say? No idea because there are no metrics to tell who’s stopping by or not.

    Is it a waste of time? I’ll go back to what you said in the first paragraph – it depends on what your goals are. But if you haven’t defined your goals, or at least all of them, you’re not going to know. For me, overall, I’d have to say no when it comes to business. However, when it comes to, well, being social… it’s some of the best fun ever.

  3. That’s a good way to put it, an inside look into a brand. Nice prediction Adam and I hope you’re right.

  4. Hi Mitch, you had one ahead of you, but the feed doesn’t go out until 11am and I’ve done no real promotion. Just got back from the clinic and they said I have pneumonia. No wonder I’ve felt so crappy this weekend. 😉

    I pretty much knew what your response would be. At least you didn’t tear me up like earlier today. lol

  5. Social Media is extremely important, I think where businesses get lost is in finding the right network, time of day to post, the right content to post, etc. The lack of education in social media marketing is the problem. If people knew how to use it more to their benefit, it would be invaluable.

  6. The only problem with the social media marketing is the analytic will not reveal everything you need. For e.g, there is no such system in place to measure the exact level of sharing as long as people use traditional sharing method such as copy and paste of URLs that bypasses analytic tools. Apart from that, Social media marketing is powerful compared to traditional advertising strategies which lasts for a few hours or days.

  7. I don’t think Social Media is a waste of time at all but if we spend too much time on it, it might not be benefit. But social proof is important and like the number of social shared you got. It’s really encourage readers to act more up on your blog.

    Thanks – Ferb

  8. Rajkumar Jonnala says

    It totally depends on our task & time,how much time we spent on a particular task.As i think social media is the best vendor of connecting people.In the rushing world no free time in hand of any media makes them to utilize their marketing ads or sells through internet from any time to any where.
    so science & its gifted technology are the good servant but a bad master;its totally depends on the user how they utilize it.

  9. it depends on the people how they utilize their time on the social media.It a good servant but a bad master so it is very good vendor for the exporting of our product among the common circle

  10. Without social media, there is nothing called as Internet marketing. There might not be many brands which help people making money. Typical example is Facebook, on a single day people make millions of money through Facebook isn’t it.

  11. Heck, social media marketing should be a staple for each blogger on the internet.

    I can’t believe that guy wrote an article like that!

    He should have a closer look at socialmediaexaminer 🙂

  12. Thanks for that Carissa, those issues are difficult for even bloggers like myself. I also think that many small businesses are used to immediate results and that’s a tough order when they haven’t even built the following yet.

  13. It’s true George, I get a lot of emails and private messages from friends sharing everything from products to look at to something I should read. If it’s happening with my little social circle I imagine it’s pretty common practice.

  14. Hi Ferb, you hit on an important point there – time. We’re all short on time and things like Facebook and Twitter can take up huge amounts of it if we’re not careful. My weakness is YouTube,I’ll catch myself spending far too much time there accomplishing absolutely nothing.

  15. Thanks Rajkumar, sorry your first comment went into the spam box, everyone’s comments seen to be directed there lately except the spammers.

    I agree, Time is money and if we’re spending it without a decent return we’re fighting a losing battle. <- Soon to be famous quote lol

  16. Hi Jason, Internet marketing was around long before social media sites, as was online income, so that’s not entirely true but I understand your point. Social media marketing adds a new level to internet marketing for those that can master it.

  17. Hi Samuel, He’s not totally wrong with the post, it is a waste of time if we go about it wrong or just drop links everywhere. He started the post on stats from mega-sites that:

    A) Are completely different animals and few bloggers can make decisions based on their success or failure.

    B) Are based on last year’s holiday season that was all but destroyed for those with a large US consumer base thanks to politics and congress’ incompetence.

    But, like I said, this post isn’t about trashing anyone, it’s just another point of view on an expanding debate. Even Megan Fox is struggling with the question:

  18. Awesome points about social media. I often find that, with smaller companies, social media is not the best basket to throw your eggs in. If it’s not bringing in business, cut it off.

  19. Social Medias may be wasted our time( if bloggers will addicted social medias). But Social Media Marketing is totally worth. 🙂

  20. Thanks Michael, It takes time so, just like blogging, if there’s no possible gain I’d agree with you. There’s usually, however, some kind of gain to be made but it’s not always clear if the time/results are worth it.

  21. These days I see more and more of the big companies using social site links in their ads. They wouldn’t be wasting their time if they thought it was dying out. I’m sure many of them have actually paid good money to research the validity of social media.

    I know that I personally don’t use it enough but that’s just me and just because I don’t use it all that much I can still see the importance it plays in our world these days.

  22. Who me? lol Just calling it like I see it; you should have shared the video.

  23. Social media waste of time, no, its totally depend on us, how we use it. There are so many benefits through it, I’m sure many of the users knows it, but they doesn’t use it. I love social media & I use it thorougly for my benefits.

  24. My answer would be that Social media is a big hit for our business and it can help us to fetch many prospective clients.The most important point of all is that these social networking websites helps us to get great traffic and at the same time it will help us to get the required brand recognition.In this way it will help us to get the required credibility.

  25. Hi Brian,

    This was a really interesting post – I always wonder about those that are discouraged with social media marketing because it can sometimes be difficult to track the true impact of a campaign (of course depending on what tacking service you’re using).

    When things aren’t working I think it’s time for a new perspective – maybe they’re not spending enough time on social media, maybe they’re not using a social site that fits with their target audience – there is always something different you can do.

    Great observations about social proof – it’s surprising how much difference this can make.

  26. Well written and very ture,
    “Google’s In The Game Now” This make me smile, as always i am also big fan of Google and that’s why I stepped back before promoting my product on the FB. Lots of zig-zag in social networking sites but there is only one name who keeps and provide constant service to their users i.e. Google.
    Thanks for sharing.

  27. Well the amount of time you have, must also be taken into consideration. It is also a great way to just Blog in case there is very less time to blog. Great content finds its way into Global readers on its own.

    As we all know the latest strategy has moved away from “Blog Every Day” to “Blog Twice a week”, that helps you get and maintain a higher number of reader count.

  28. I don’t think Social Media is a waste of time at all but if we spend too much time on it, it might not be benefit. Social media marketing is powerful compared to traditional advertising strategies which lasts for a few hours or days.

  29. Wow, man. All I can say is that though one may not be sure about the importance of social media, but the community of your blog is really awesome. The post is impressive, the commentary is even more so!
    Had a good time reading your discussions, dudes. Thank you!

  30. Brian, I don’t feel its a waste of time if you are getting visits to your site or blog without a high bounce rate. It takes time to monitor that. I did for two years and stopped spending time on Stumble Upon. Its not a quick way to get results, but when they come, its a great way to have leads funneling in.
    I hope you are feeling better!

  31. So you’re saying social media on a personal level is a waste of time Raplus?

  32. That’s a good point Sire, we tend to second guess mega sites with millions to spend on things like market research. Of course, we can’t always follow big website strategy and expect similar results; apples and oranges.

  33. There you go Nicholas, brand recognition, credibility and traffic… It doesn’t get any better than that.

  34. It’s true Adam, sometimes we need to adjust our startigy before we just throw in the towel. Thanks for the +1, that gives you a do-follow link around here. 😉

  35. Me too Ranjan, I’m super excited about Google Plus and that’s where I’ve been spending more time lately.

  36. lol I can’t agree with a single thing you said Shubhashish, but that’s alright, I appreciate your comment. 🙂

  37. You brought up a good point Alex, I think most campaigns, both social and traditional, are pretty short lived. All the more reason to use them to build our lists and communities.

  38. Thanks Raheel, we are blessed with some fantastic readers.

  39. Thanks Lisa, I’ll be alright. I’m just trying to catch up now. I’ve backed away from many social and bookmarking sites too. Some of the same one’s you mentioned in your post just before Christmas: Social Websites to Ditch in 2013 to Save Time

  40. I’d rather say: Social media is a total waste of time if you don’t take the time to understand how it works and how to make it work for your business. We often take for granted how many hours we put into learning things like SEO. I believe social media isn’t something we should expect to work well if we don’t take the time to learn how it works.

  41. Personally, I find most social media forms tiring. I’m pretty introverted so I don’t dabble on it much although I do have accounts. I think the best way is to focus on just one or two that your business can benefit most from.

  42. Well I agree. But as a college student I don’t have time to perform all the marketing strategies. So I do the top ones like digging, stumbling, tweeting, only. Moreover, I used to create up-to 49 articles in single month. Now I am unable to reach 20 a month. Though I am getting a higher page-view per article. So that compensate my time problem.

    And “Blog Twice a Day” even I don’t agree with that but latest trend do promote this.

  43. Oh, Your first comment said twice a week, but I guess you’re saying twice a day. That makes more sense now. I post when I have something to blog about and have the time. Like you, I don’t have the luxury of time on my side.

    There is a very strong case to made that the fasted way to grow big is to run a multi-author blog publishing several times a day. There are some big challenges to that though.

  44. Well I did said “Blog twice a week”. In the later comment I just made a mistake and typed day.

  45. Nice point Chimezirim, it does take work and learning. It’s much more than dropping links everywhere as so many do.

  46. I don’t think so, it’s a waste of time. Social media is about having an ongoing conversation with your customers, not droning on about your business while they ignore you. You have to put in the time to cultivate your existing customers and attract new ones, yes, it takes time but it is worth to spend.

  47. Social marketing technique is the marketers choice these days.I don’t think that this is a waste of time.It is the best way to drive traffic to our website.Also it can help us to get a brand recognition for our business and also help to establish credibility.

  48. Hi Brian

    One can surely gain more visibility but traffic I really don’t know and relationship I cannot fathom, I don’t have stats to prove anything at this point in time.I still believe that commenting is the best way out for long term sustaining of our shop.

    Thanks for sharing this topic.


  49. thank you for sharing this post! social media is definitely NOT a waste of time. With social media, we get to connect with a lot of people , we get to learn a lot and helps, we get to be updated with the latest news, trends or gossips, and most importantly, social media is indeed a crucial part for a business’ success!

    Social Media is love! 🙂

  50. Anonymous (Read Comment Policy) says

    Besides the content, the title is very intriguing, Brian. Social media, in the present moment is indispensable as far as business promotion is concerned. All the top social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are making constant updates to their features only to make it easier for users.

    The latest ‘Graph Search’ feature that Facebook unveiled will open new grounds for marketers because they can now use this option to search for potential leads for their clients. It is a proven fact that online marketing via social media sites have yielded very good results so far. This has helped businesses to reach customers much faster and easier, that too without any huge investment. Besides Facebook and Twitter, I believe Pinterest too has a huge role to play and marketers are slowly understanding this fact. What do you think?

  51. You hit the bull’s eye, Brian! Social media cannot ever be a waste of time. I think it works like word-of-mouth marketing and I haven’t heard of any other type of marketing that comes close to word-of-mouth. A business set-up is an artificial person and it needs to socialize. That’s all!

  52. Social Media is the best way to publicly promote and bring your voice immediately before your audience.

  53. Social media marketing waste of time, no chance!. It totally depends on us, people are not much educated about it. The standard way of marketing has been repeating consistantly, so new techniques require to make the full use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & more.

  54. Exactly, Social media can help to brand our blog, generating traffic without google.

    Social Media is extremely important! 😀

    I’m working alot these days to increase followers and I’m also running giveaway on my blog for this! 😉

  55. So true, but the fact that they are using them goes to show how important they believe them to be. That in itself is a lesson for interested parties to learn.

  56. Actually you are right, I totally agree with you this is not waste of time instead of this is the best way to increase marketing strategies, visitors and page rank of your site also.. An interesting concept indeed.

  57. I will not tale using social media is waste of time, but honest to say really I am not much interested to pass my time with social networking sites though I know social networking sites are best to promote our product.

  58. I used to use all social media ou there but it got to the point where I wasn’t doing anything else. I now use twitter and that’s it.

  59. My turn! I don’t think social media is necessarily a waste of time but I will have to say that it’s become more challenging to get someone’s attention. There’s lots of competition, things like Edgerank to hold you down, and lots of social media sites we know about and don’t yet know about to deal with. Even having a particular niche can be hard to market well in the social media arena.

    Yet, blogging is social media, and we’re not asking people to stop doing that. Twitter is my favorite place to be and I’m not getting rid of that. However, I’ve noticed that I pick my spots and times when I’m on more often than other times. After all, I have work to do and money to make that gives me permission to work more on my social media marketing and participation.

    Does it waste my time? Sometimes it does when I give it more attention than I should. Otherwise, it is what it is, and overall, it’s still a less expensive enterprise than traditional marketing.

  60. I don’t think so, Social media marketing leads to increased sales, increased leads, increased brand awareness and improved communication with clients and customers, there are many who still just don’t get it. You have shared a good post, thanks for sharing.

  61. Hi there,

    Social media is a great help for marketers who want to advertise their product freely. Though, social media is mainly use for communication, people discovered that it can be use as a major tool for promotion due to its ability to share and connect. Social media marketing has been viral yet proven as an effective tool for marketing 😀

    THanks for this post though :d

  62. Social media marketing is not the waste of time to the marketers who knows well about social media marketing and how to use it to get more customers. It is waste of time for those who don’t know the marketing strategies and how to use social media to promote effectively.

  63. It is not at all waste of time, Social media marketing is a simple way to get going online. The key to the success of your ventures is consistency. Show up regularly and often. Let people know that they can rely on you, your services and advice.

  64. Social media marketing can help us to direct some valuable traffic to our website and also it can help us to increase our rankings.We can fetch many prospective clients through this medium and the best part about this technique is that it is quite inexpensive.

  65. Anonymous (Read Comment Policy) says

    When i was in my college one of guest faculty said that in the field of marketing what is wrong today i.e right tomorrow and what is right today i.e wrong nothing is right or wrong the thing is how u are doing that thing

  66. Ive spend a little while for promoting my own business, and definetelly yes yes yes ! Specially Facebook and Twitter promote my service over and wider than I was expecting. It did helps to gain a new customers from different parts of the world.

  67. Kabenlah Cudjoe says

    This post is an eye an opener. The argument with regards to social media has many turns and twists.The example you gave with respect to a guy making millions tells us how effective social media are but many also do use them in negative ways and that can’t be disputed.

  68. It is not at all waste of time, Social media marketing is a simple way to get going online.Social Media is extremely important, I think where businesses get lost is in finding the right network, time of day to post, the right content to post, etc. The lack of education in social media marketing is the problem. If people knew how to use it more to their benefit, it would be invaluable.

  69. Social Marketing was never a waste of time and in the era of Google SEO algorithm changes, it’s the social signals that can help a website to stay alive and right on the SERP list

  70. Anonymous - Real names only please says

    Its all about social proof. Personally, if I searched for a company on Facebook and they didn’t have a Facebook page, yet one of their competitors had a page with 1000 likes and positive comments from happy customers I know which one I would buy the product off!

  71. Sometimes for me Yes it is. As I do spend quite a bit of time on social sites. The returns that I expect from my social marketing is not what I would expect. Moreover nowadays there are quite less proper followers and they are hard to get.

  72. Social media will never be a waste of time. Yes, it may become less popular with time and introduction of other mediums of communication. Also, I have seen an average article getting far more likes/re-tweets compared to a well written interesting article. I think its related to brand and how many people see it. I have always believed that more Google +1’s for an article may infect help an article to rank better in search results although I am yet to find an document from Google that supports this.

  73. It’s really not a Waste of time and no one can say that Social media has helped me get huge traffic,Huge Conversions and many more.

  74. yes,i agree with you on many points like Google+ has always been good with me when ever i share stuff i get good response from my circle & google as well.most of the time i realised that if you have good number of +1 then their are pretty much chances of ranking well in SERP.

  75. Jon Page Acabo says

    Yees, it will become a waste of time if you do not maximize its advantage. Most of the successful internet marketers now earn much of their profit from using social media. That is why, many social entrepreneurs on the net rely on social media for their advertising campaigns and branding strategy.

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