I have thought for some time that the impending social media bubble will at some point burst. I am a true believer that digital marketing done right will drive sales, however folks can get sidetracked pretty fast. That, coupled with many marketers delusional perception of success, and things can get pretty murky.

One must have a keen understanding of why the business is marketing in the first place, to sell more stuff. That’s it. Most of the other yap you are doing is fluff puff marketing and both it and you could go away and no one would notice … except the person who’s job it is to do the tasks that might get eliminated.

Employees and agencies hold on ever so dearly to those tasks, and work diligently to prove their value. That became evidently clear in the over one hundred comments of Facebook Is Overrated For Businesses. (It really is, by the way.)

The ROI meter for the folks writing the checks to fund your marketing should only be interested in things that move the prospect into and down the sales funnel. I have a standard question that I ask our clients. For one such, a furniture chain, it’s “Are you selling more couches?” For our apartment clients, it’s, “Are you renting more apartments?”

If the answer is yes, then all is well and we continue doing what we are doing. If the answer is no, we change direction, swiftly. If your clients are selling more stuff, you or your agency will rarely will get fired. The point here is to ask the question and not be afraid of the answer.

What we don’t do is look for things we are doing to “prove” our value to the owner. Hey, some of those things do have value, but if sales drop or dip we all need to become much more nibble and fix things faster.

Erica Napoletano penned a post just after the first of the year titled, I Hope You Are Looking For a New Job. The post compared the real estate bubble to a predicted social media bubble.

So, if you’re a “social media consultant,” I hope you’re looking for a new job. Because the bottom is about to fall out of your market. Just like real estate, social media isn’t going anywhere. But if you’re deluding yourself and your clients into thinking that you’ve got what they need, you’re no different than the hairdressers-turned-Realtor-turned-hairdressers of the Las Vegas real estate boom.

You’re hawking overpriced real estate to anyone who can make the down payment.

Social media is a component of a comprehensive marketing strategy, not a stand-alone panacea. There are no unicorns that fart glitter or fluffy pillows. Social media campaigns aren’t islands unto themselves and boats don’t race to moor on their docks. If you’re one of those laptop-and-a-lunch hucksters, I certainly hope you’re gearing up to acquire some expanded job skills, as it’s becoming damn clear that what you’re selling isn’t going to have a market for long.

Perhaps a bit harsh, however it gets to the point. Part of the problem is that the social media echo chamber has become a support system for every “like minded” marketer telling you how good you are. Ask the client: Nothing else matters. The same sort of nonsense occurs with employees who constantly get distracted on what the true goals and strategies are.

So, get your marketing compass out and ask your client or your boss if they are selling more stuff due to your marketing efforts. The answer will make your direction much more clear.

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About Eric Brown

Eric Brown

Eric Brown's background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for a major Midwest apartment developer. He established a proven track record of effectively repositioning existing rental properties in a way that added value for investors while enhancing the resident experience. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

    All the towels in the world won’t fix a leak. They can absorb the outcome of the leak for a while, but they’ll never actually fix it. You’ll just need more and more towels. The leak will remain. And you’ll have a pile of wasted resources.

    I love the idea of getting in to fix what’s broken, as opposed to scrambling to serve the symptoms.

    Great post, Eric.

  • http://twitter.com/timcroteau Tim Croteau

    As a frequent fluff-fighter, I’m giving you a loud dramatic applause right now, Eric. Excellent post.

  • http://twitter.com/timcroteau Tim Croteau

    As a frequent fluff-fighter, I’m giving you a loud dramatic applause right now, Eric. Excellent post.

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Nice post Eric,
    I think marketing, social or otherwise, always hinges on great content. So if you know how to create great content for different platforms – social and otherwise – you the marketer will do great in the ever-evolving online marketing world. If you know how Facebook or Twitter works but can’t write, edit or shoot videos, not so much. My one caveat would be to remember that moving the needle isn’t necessarily selling more widgets today. It’s sometimes about laying a comprehensive groundwork for sales tomorrow. And in social, it takes a while for tomorrow to come. It just shouldn’t take forever.

    • Anonymous

      Is Your Marketing Impactful, or Fluff Puff
      Patrick, Thanks for stopping by. Indeed great content rules, and folks that lack the writing and video ability are lost. I think that when folks take their eye off of “Selling Widgets”, things quickly escalate to Fluff Puff Marketing. For whatever reasons people get very defensive about protecting that scared space of marketing that “isn’t always about selling”. Really? Marketing is about selling at every business we have operated,

  • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

    Great post Eric and very important for the fly-by-night folks and professionals alike to hear.

  • Pingback: money from internet » Skip The Fluff Puff Marketing And Fix What's Broken | Social Media …

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

    Eric, I enjoyed your post. It has a real “let’s get down to brass tacks” simplicity that often gets convoluted when people from client and agency side start crowding into a room or replying to email chains – the real nut of it all can get lost.

    As someone with an agency-side history, I’ll add one point that might surprise some readers – sometimes clients are reluctant – or can’t – answer the question “Did our program move the needle? Do you have more prospects entering the funnel or are you closing more sales?” And disturbingly, the reason behind “can’t” isn’t confidentiality but rather the number of moving parts, stand-alone systems and organizational structures that internally make it hard to figure. They can’t answer the question because they really don’t know beyond a decent guess.

    Yeah, just wow.

    • Anonymous

      Are You a Fluff Puff Marketer?
      Hi Heather, You make a valid point that sometimes clients really do not know their numbers, and in that case the marketers job becomes gray, and frustrating. Those guessers though typically have more problems than a consultant can ever help with.

  • http://twitter.com/markivey mark ivey

    This does feel a tinge like the mid 2000s real estate mania. I remember potential condo buyers in San JOse back then having to enter a lottery in order to have a chance/opportunity to purchase an overpriced unit. Now we have Facebook supposedly valued at $75bill, and even marginal schemes generating oohs and ahs from the media, and the echo chamber. Not sure if I see an actual crash coming, but do see a reality check ahead as many companies take a harder look at all the $$ they’re pouring into these programs. Better make sure yours is paying off for the client, as you say- hype can only get you so far. Anyone remember the old AOL?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QG36NVRMHMHC2QSNOMVF36JUEM muhammad

    An extremely outstanding point is elevated by Mr. Eric Brown that the Fluff Puff marketing is just a bubble which can cause high losses. Information is a key to success through which an individual can fix what’s broken. “US Business Owners” http://www.businessowners.co is a platform that provides transparent information about the current events prevailing in the markets. Here some businessmen from different fields share their successful experiences. The work this platform is doing is remarkable and it can lead USA to high financial benefits. “Muhammad Ali ~ Freelance Writer for http://www.businessowners.co