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The Top 20 Threats To Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing has moved from an interesting idea to an essential part of the marketing arsenal  in the last couple of years.20 Threats To Social Media Marketing

It was nearly a year ago that I wrote an article on why the CEO Is afraid of Social Media and followed that up with a post that provide some answers on why he should be using social media in the 21st century that highlighted the frustration a lot of marketers were suffering due to the traditional and conservative approach to marketing.

Yet despite social media marketing’s maturing from a noisy infant to an arrogant adolescent in the marketing department, over the last 12 months the resistance to taking it seriously and apply and implement appropriate resources is still ever present.

Recently 150 of the top senior marketing executives in the UK met at the IDM (The Institute of Direct Marketing is Europe’s leading body for the professional development of direct, data and digital marketing) B2B Conference to discuss what they felt were the threats and challenges to having social media marketing implemented in an organisation. Here is a summary of what they found to be the threats to social media marketing adoption in companies they worked and consulted for and how it applied to their digital marketing plan.

1. Having the time to make the most of it

2. Having the time to keep up with the latest trends in social media

3. Deciphering the gold from the dross to ensure you are using the most effective methods to get optimal results

4, Getting buy in from senior managers and CEO’s

5.Measuring the ROI so as to be able to justify resources and efforts for your Social Media Marketing

6. Finding the right talent resource that have the appropriate experience to plan and develop content

7.  Managing the social media marketing internally so as to ensure its effectiveness

8. Perceived lack of control over the messages exchanged

9. Resistance to buy-in by colleagues due to a continued and deliberate lack of understanding and interest

10. Disconnect due to generational barriers

11. Social Media Marketing is seen as a risk rather than an opportunity so nothing happens especially in conservative industries such as financial services

12. Less control over what the company is saying

13. Creating consistent flow of great content whether that be text, video or images

14. Lack of evidence and history to validate its value

15. Overcoming the gap between personal use of social media and its power as a business marketing tool

16. Not able to target the right audience

17. The perception that social media is a fashionable fad

18. Corporate apathy

19 Lack of guidelines and procedures

20. Fear of the unknown

What are some of the threats to implementing social media marketing at your organisation?

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • I feel #5 is the most debilitating since bosses are typically so much about keeping the company profitable in the now, and because the ROI of a social media program is not immediate (by any stretch of the imagination) it gets a little sticky at productivity meetings.

  • Jeff this is a superb list. I have also run into a fear of legal complications — divulging sensitive or inappropriate content for example, competitive information, sensitive customer data, etc. Thanks for a great post!

  • I think most people that dont understand and use SM are just not tech savvy. Once they figure out how brilliant these sites are, they are going to be junkies! It is the wave of the future. They can either catch the wave and enjoy or sit on the beach with the rest of the land lubbers!

  • Rob Woyzbun

    I would work from #3 and #6 and add that we find that strategy integration (at planning and execution) is a huge hurdle. It’s like if we were trying to combine football with basketball – every league has its rules, traditions, experts. Every league knows best – and it’s hard to get something “new” on the field. Possibly a FAIL analogy but the point is that our marketing world was simpler B4 social media, web 2.0 etc. Now our clients have to work harder to make things work – and I’m not sure “full service” agencies are the answer…

  • “What are some of the threats to implementing social media marketing at your organisation?”

    Skepticism, definitely. I have taken social media matters into my hands since a while and I am gradually “converting” other member of the management team as well, but it’s a slow process, even if rewarding in the end.
    The biggest obstacle is surely not being able to clearly say “this works”, it takes time and efforts and I understand that not all organizations have the resources, especially human ones, to commit to it.

  • COMPLETELY agree re the TIME.

    We’ve found social media is enormously rewarding in terms of reaching and engaging with the audiences for the films we represent.

    But ONLY if significant time is dedicated to these interactions. Time and intelligence.

    Simply scheduling a bunch of tweets and blogs doesn’t cut it, if there’s no intelligence present to participate in community.

    It’s like leaving a bunch of thought-provoking phone messages and never picking up your own phone when it rings.

  • Thanks for the post Jeff. A lot of these are very good reasons why an organization needs to hire a social media marketing manager- or at least outsource it to a social media marketing agency/firm. The rest of these obstacles can be overcome with some education. I suggest spending a few hours reading this and other blogs and a couple of good books on social media and/or chatting with a social media consultant. And get some case studies related to their industry and sit down and take a good, hard look at the results and numbers and figure out if this could work for their organization. My guess is that there are very, very few that could not benefit from social media in some way.

  • Charmaine2004

    This is a very timely post.  Yesterday I was having a conversation with a colleague who felt that some organizations and executives may be experiencing social media fatigue.  

    Every key note, and the seemingly endless seminars on the topic, his point being that part of the challenge is that some organizations are having difficulty understanding how to integrate social media with the existing marketing, and as many have mentioned here, seeing the ROI.GM pulling their ads from Facebook will certainly have some impact and leave yet another now so positive impression on those who are still uncertain about social media. 

    • Krithika Rangarajan

      This is an interesting perspective. “Social media fatigue” – I like that term 🙂

      Too much information can be overwhelming. I am an aspiring marketer who LOVES reading about Social Media Marketing, but there are many times when I just want to throw up my hands and give up because there is just too much to read! lol

      Finding that one sane voice in a room full of continuous chatter is quite a challenge.

      I can understand why the executives want to just DO something instead of being told 10 different things from 10 different sources about the SAME topic. lol

  • Paul

    Perhaps not so much a direct marketing type threat, but the security of a social media network – visa a vis hacking, etc – is also a threat which should be listed as awareness thereof leads to correct security measures put in place up front.

  • Great post, Jeff. Across our clients we see many points of resistance. The most common ones: time, management buy-in, and overlap with personal social media participation. Yet we continue to to see business professionals fill our training courses. A year ago student goals circled around “I’d like to understand what social media is and figure out if it makes sense for our organization”; more recently goals have evolved to “Social media isn’t going away; we need to get started to remain competitive”. I’d suggest this supports Eric Qualman’s statement, “What’s the ROI of Social Media? Your business will be around in 5 years.”

  • It takes a savvy marketer to implement a successful social media program. If you have the right person in place that knows how to message, target, and integrate social media into the overall marketing strategy . . . then social media works, and works well!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Illuminating article, Mr Bullas. 🙂

    I think one of the biggest ‘threats’ to social media – which also coincidentally makes it one of the most exciting fields of Marketing – is that there is NO ‘ONE’ right answer. Statisticians and other technically proficient professionals (or number-crunchers) are used to the kind of math where 2 and 2 is always equal to 4.

    This is not the case with Social Media. The same strategy can be implemented by different people with vastly different results. And then you start wondering why it worked for X when it didn’t work for you, and immediately give up.

    People want a magic formula. It offers security. And while there are certain principles to ensure social media success, it is not written in stone. Even the best experts might find themselves confounded when some strategy that worked for a long time suddenly isn’t delivering results. But their minds are trained to be creative and look for opportunities in problems.

    CEOs and higher-ups – on the contrary – are often simply concerned with achieving the highest ROI with minimal risk and don’t quite have that kind of lateral thinking, which prevents them from happily embracing social media.

    Hope I made some sense! 🙂

  • Trib4l

    It’s far easier to get someone to believe in the power of social media in the B2C model for a couple of reasons:

    1. Using analytics and UTM metrics to demonstrate a campaign funnel and conversions.
    2. Showing them how updating social profiles, and especially posting on platforms like Google+ can assist in boosting rank and presence.

    SEO and social, when linked, are a powerhouse for internet and content marketing.