I’ve long argued that admitting your product or service isn’t the right hammer for every nail is an effective way to sell. The folks at marketing automation software vendor HubSpot seem to agree, judging from a recent blog post on “Seven Reasons Social Media is Bad for Marketing.”
Since social media (the use of content-sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote a product or service) is one of the main uses for HubSpot’s software you would expect HubSpot to be a leader in sharing lots of tips about how to use social media and why it’s good. Which they are. But in this post HubSpot admits “we have under-reported on the negative aspects” of social media and lists seven hidden downsides.
Did HubSpot shoot itself in the foot? No. Rather than trash the basic idea of social media (as the headline implies) the post actually focuses on what happens when you do social media wrong and describes how to do it right. That transforms what seems like an exercise in humility into an opportunity to educate and engage customers and prospects. For example:
Reason Two, that social media causes companies to “Focus on the Wrong Metrics.” The post goes on to suggest “Reach, leads and sales should be some of the tangible metrics that are measured as part of social media marketing strategies.”
Reason Four, that social media creates another isolated marketing silo that doesn’t work effectively with other parts of the organization. If integrated into customer service and product development, the post suggests, social media could instead “be an important factor for organizational improvement.”
Or Reason Seven, “Lack of Change,” which accuses content marketers of using social media to distribute “the same boring and legally reviewed sound bites that people have tuned-out on TV and in print.” The implied solution? Turn out better content and social media will work better.
All HubSpot is admitting is that social media is not a cure-all and that its product has to be used correctly to work. By raising the potential downfalls of its product itself HubSpot educates and engages current and prospective customers. One day after posting, 26 people had commented, of whom only two piled on to say social media is worthless. The rest thanked HubSpot for raising these problems and/or asked for help in solving them. That’s two dozen current or potential customers who will think of HubSpot next time they have a marketing problem and the budget to solve it.
Which, after all, is the point.