Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×

Why social-media marketing isn’t really for everyone

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: The conventional wisdom is that anyone can be a “social-media guru.” But does that work in practice? Is social-media marketing something anyone can do well?

  • No, it takes a certain kind of personality to excel at social media — 49.08%
  • Not everyone can plan a social-media strategy, but anyone can execute one — 24.31%
  • Yes, but it takes a certain amount of education and formal training to be great at social media — 16.06%
  • Yes, people can figure out social media all by themselves — 10.55%

I don’t always have a ton of patience with some of the kumbaya tenets that get batted around in social-media circles. One of my least favorite tropes is the idea that social media is an absolute leveler — that just about anyone can become a legend in the Wild West frontier of social networking. I think that’s kind of like saying anyone can grow up to be a congressman or a famous actor. Technically, that’s true. The reality, however, tends to be a lot more complicated.

It looks like a lot of SmartBrief on Social Media readers agree with me: 49% of the 291 SmartBrief on Social Media readers who took this poll think you need a certain disposition to succeed in social-media marketing. About a quarter of respondents think it depends on your role in the process, 16% say social-media success stories start with training, and about 10% say the door is wide open.

I think the truth here lies somewhere in between those four answers. Social media is a leveler — in the same way many Web technologies allow people to push out their own content at little or no cost. But it doesn’t eliminate the need for talent and training. If you’re a terrible marketer, Twitter won’t magically make you better. If you’re an inexperienced public relations worker, Facebook isn’t going to turn you into a veteran overnight.

But it’s equally important to recognize that the same skills that make a person great at attracting followers on Twitter don’t necessarily equip them to design, monitor and monetize a social-media strategy. Organizations that use social media effectively are able to assess the skills at their disposal and act accordingly.

What characteristics define a person who excels at social media?