I’ve been reading the Yellow Pages Social Media Report 2013

The numbers in it are very revealing. Especially when you peel back the marketing hype and work out what they really mean.

The report says that of the 932 participants in the survey, 783 of them use the internet more than once a week. So let’s focus in on this group [84% of all participants].

65% of the group [55% of all participants] “have a presence on social media sites” which, in the report’s view, can include pretty much anything social, from having a Facebook or Google+ profile, to having participated in an online rating or review.

That seems to me to be a very broad definition of a social media presence. But let’s continue.

The Report finds that one in five of these people who “have a presence on social media sites” [11% of all participants] uses social media to research products and services.

Of this few, 58% of them [6.4% of all participants] say their research resulted in a purchase.

And of this dwindling band of stragglers, half made their purchases online, while the other half made their purchase in a bricks and mortar store.

The report then makes the extraordinarily fatuous claim that this impressive half [a measly 3.2% of all participants] “highlights the importance of social media for ‘bricks and mortar’ stores.”

Excuse me? For years we’ve been told by every marketing expert online that Social Media is the New Big Thing, and without it, our company will surely wither away and die.

So, doesn’t the fact that nearly 97% of store purchases and 97% of online purchases are made without reference to social media, highlight the insignificance of social media?


As you would expect, the social media industry ignores this massive disconnect between social media and reality. And the marketing media, as usual, prefers to chatter and twitter about the social media glass being half full, rather than practically empty.

With an amazing display of balls and no brains, ‘The statistics don’t lie – you can’t ignore social media‘ is how Telstra News trumpets the report.

And, Marketing Mag has the effrontery to accuse business of not doing enough in the social media space: 2013 Yellow™ Social Media Report: businesses need to catch up to mobile-mad world.

In fact, search for the report and you’ll see from the search results that everyone is either missing the point or is deliberately overlooking it.

What a delusional world!

A proportionate response, if you have a business that sells stuff online or through bricks and mortar stores, would be to stop counting ‘likes’ and divert your social media spend to meaningful marketing which generates real leads and drives real customers to your website or store to make real purchases with real money. Because that is the real definition of real success.


Another interesting read is the Optus Future of Business Report 2013. This report, too, lifts the cover off the social media rort.

On the one hand, the report says 62% of organisations use social media to engage customers. And on the other hand, it says only 4% of consumers use social media to interact with organisations.

That’s a very big discrepancy. An impressive 62% of companies and organisations are busy chit-chit-chattering away via social media, trying to engage customers old and new, while fully 96% of consumers don’t give a stuff!

A search for the report here shows that only one marketing blog (in the UK!) picks up on this spectacular failure rate, while Australian marketing experts have largely chosen to ignore the unpalatable truth.


Given the hyperbole, misinformation and elephant shit written and spoken about the utility of social media to business, and especially the retail business, it is sort of annoying that no-one has scratched the surface to look even one level deeper, where the cracks and fissures in the foundations are so glaringly obvious.

So, if you’re expecting social media to significantly impact on sales, forget it. Your customers are refusing to engage. And I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but you’ve been suckered by the social media industry.

But it isn’t just you. We’ve all been suckered. In fact, the most ardent promoters of social media as a marketing channel are even bullshitting themselves!

The facts presented by these two serious and hugely influential research reports demonstrate that, for businesses, social media is a murky, bottomless pit full of snakes and spin artists hungry for your money, who tout a deceptive, artificial, self-serving unit of measure – the ‘like’ – which is as useless for any practical commercial purpose as the golf stroke is for determining the distance to the moon.

The important thing, now the truth is out, is, what are you going to do about it?



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