Many businesses today think it’s a ‘must’ to jump on the social media bandwagon by getting Facebook and Twitter profiles created in the hope of benefiting them.

Bloggers and online entrepreneurs have hyped up all things social media a stretch too far, and I would advise businesses to think twice before they decide to appear on the social horizon at all.

Social Media Bandwagon
Social Media Bandwagon – illustration by Matt Hamm

I did a little investigation on these matters and you would be surprised to hear that, despite their supposed enthusiasm for social media, there aren’t many savvy entrepreneurs out there who are effective at it. Just to give you an example: a whopping 60%+ of business Facebook and Twitter pages I looked at have tiny numbers of fans and followers. Many business owners seem to take pride in their social media presence despite having profiles with only 14 members – this may actually reflect negatively on their brands.

Unfortunately for many, social media is all about putting up some miserable looking profile and expecting the audience to miraculously grow overnight and change their brand from being perceived as backward and stone-age to dynamic and new-age. Others go to the other extreme and are abusing the processes so fiercely that a large number of users are already beginning to take social media invites/requests as spam.

The message I am trying to send across through this article is not to discourage businesses from plunging into the social media pool, but to encourage them to consider beforehand if they have the resources to maintain an effective presence on social channels and, if they do, to devise and execute a meaningful strategy. If they have an existing presence, they should ask themselves why customers would and should follow their profiles.

I am not denying the fact that social media has become extremely important for marketing, despite the downside of it having become competitive and therefore not easy to crack. Whereas it offers endless opportunities to interact with customers, it is also extremely simple to lose your brand image in the wilderness of social media.

An interesting revelation by ExactTarget is that many brands may risk losing customers for pushing the envelope too far. Brand communication using social media is on the verge of becoming a plague and the equivalent of spam email for a huge majority of consumers.

An excerpt from the research reveals:

Facebook:
– 44% company authored too many posts
– 43% wall became glutted with marketing
– 38% messages repetitive and boring
– 24% posts were overly promotional
– 19% content was irrelevant from start

Twitter:
– 52% messages repetitive and boring
– 41% stream became inundated with marketing
– 39% company tweeted too frequently
– 21% tweets were overly promotional
– 15% content was irrelevant from start

Do you think most businesses using social media are getting it right or do they need to rethink their approach?