11 Reasons You Should Ignore Social Media in 2009

January 22, 2009

Posted in Marketing.

There’s a post bouncing around called 11 reasons you can’t ignore social media in 2009. There are some great points. But to continue my “I’m a self-hating social media guy” pattern, here are my 11 reasons you should ignore social media in 2009:

1. The wrong people are using it.

My friends and colleagues, Steve and oAk, both teach courses at Notre Dame. According to them, none of their students use feed readers. Only one of their students uses Twitter. You know who’s using Twitter? Folks in technology and marketing. People like you and me. Not our usual audiences.

2. It’s not taken seriously.

Whose opinion do you care about? If you think about it, there are two answers: your customers and your bosses. If they don’t take social media seriously, what’s the point? Sure, they’re on Facebook, but so is everyone. When your professors, bosses, parents – even grandparents – friend you on Facebook, it’s jumped the shark.

3. You can’t get support.

Big organizations are nervous about transparency. And social media requires a lot of transparency. Since social media is about conversations and relationships, it’s no longer a one-sided message. By giving up control, you’re opening the door to risks: the imperfect message…or the promise that can’t be fulfilled. Your bosses don’t understand social media, so they won’t support it.

4. There are foundations to lay first.

Social media isn’t an instant payoff. Sure, you can create a new blog in 10 minutes, but it will take a long time to write and promote it. Not only that, but you have to instill social media into your institution’s culture: and culture shifts take massive efforts.

5. It’s magic tonic water.

A quick Google search reveals thousands of blogs just like mine, educating poor suckers about how social media can cure all the world’s ills. Like a man with a hammer, guys like me see every business problem as a nail. And some folks swear it works for them, but you have to ask yourself: was it the social media, or the $15 million ad campaign they ran?

6. It’s all noise.

With over 125 million English-language blogs, estimated millions of Twitter accounts, and at least 85% of college students on Facebook, how can you contribute to that in a way that stands out? Can you possibly be heard through all the noise?

7. You have better things to do.

Look at your to do list, your inbox, the stack of papers on your desk: can you afford to spend more hours blogging or talking busy admissions counselors into maintaining a Twitter account? Instead, you can use that time to really move the needle: create value elsewhere.

8. It’s just shiny toy syndrome.

New social media startups arrive daily. You can create a new social network in mere minutes using Ning. And most of the time, they’re being billed as a solution to a problem you probably don’t have.

9. It’s more expensive than people realize.

Social media is free! It doesn’t cost a cent to start a blog, gain some followers, and build relationships with your constituents. Oh, other than your time. Tally up the hours – dozens of hours – you will spend seriously investing in social media, and then multiply that by an hourly rate. If you don’t have an hourly rate in mind, start with minimum wage. Could you be more profitable with your time spent elsewhere?

10. You can’t measure it.

How many more students did you recruit through Facebook? Did your blog raise money for your program? How do you measure “engagement?” These are hard questions for our industry to address. Meanwhile, your boss wants to know what the ROI is and what you’re doing to accomplish specific goals. Social media is anything but specific.

11. You can’t win.

Starting a blog is easy, but gaining followers is not. Opening an account on a social network takes minutes, but creating value can take forever. Meanwhile, you’re invariably late to the party: others are doing it better, have been doing it longer, and are always one step ahead of you.

Social Media Isn’t For Everyone

I hope it’s clear that I’m only half-serious in this post. These are the hard questions we face in selling social media to leadership, to implementing a winning plan, and achieving our lofty goals. Social media isn’t an “Easy Button.” It isn’t for everyone. But if you’ve decided it’s right for you, be ready to answer the hard questions. (And share them with us on Twitter.)


  1. Erika — January 23, 2009

    my name is Erika Nichols and I am an intern this semester at my school, Albion College in Albion Michigan. My internship has been created around the use of social media and its effects on the Admission process here at Albion. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the various social media outlets and what they can do for our Admission office. I work full time for the office right now and the social media project is just getting started. I agree with many of your points in this post as i am worried about the sustainability of my projects long after i graduate. I think you have some great experience and background knowledge and would like to learn more about effective and efficient use of social media for colleges and universities. thank you in advance for your time. Feel free to e-mail me at ean11@albion.edu

  2. chas — January 23, 2009

    Thanks for the comments. My sister-in-law graduated from Albion a few years ago

  3. Erika — January 26, 2009

    I saw that study earlier last week and it provided some great statistics and references for our Admission Office.

    Small world, Albion seems to be every where!

    I will look forward to your post! Thanks again!