Home Blog Uncategorized Trend: The over-investment in social media tools and technology

Trend: The over-investment in social media tools and technology


I’ve seen a number of articles recently that have focused on a growing–and increasingly troublesome–trend in our industry: Our complete over-reliance on tools and technology.

In a recent guest post on Mark Schaefer’s blog, the author tried to make the case for why more marketers should be budgeting for social analytics software. I would violently disagree based on what I’ve seen first-hand the last eight-plus years.

What I’ve seen is this:

Brands purchasing and increasing number of social media tools.

This includes everything from management tools like Spredfast and Sprinklr to analytics tools to employee social advocacy tools. In each case, what I’ve seen more often than not is the brand team using about a third of the functionality of said tool. And, in some cases, I would argue the tool isn’t even needed (this is frequently the case with social management tools like Spredfast, which increase complexity instead of relieving it!). Brands don’t need to be purchasing more technology–they need to be purchasing less.

Brand over-relying on social analytics tools.

The big issue I’ve noticed when it comes to social analytics tools is pretty simple: The tools are just kicking our data and reports. They can’t analyze results (yet)–at least not like a human can. And, that’s the essential piece that’s missing. Absolutely no critical analysis is happening. I’ve seen it over and over again. Complete over-reliance on the tool to solve a problem only a human brain can do.

What brands really need is smart analytical thinkers who can take this data and translate it into actionable to-dos. Unfortunately, I see very little of that on today’s marketing/communications teams. Especially (sadly) on the agency side. After all, these people are getting paid for their analysis and ideas!

Another article I read last week claimed 65 percent of marketers plan to increase their martech spend in the years ahead. Again, I would take issue with that decision when the bulk of teams I have worked with barely have time to use and understand the martech they have now. Why would you want to add to that mess?

Here’s the bottom line: We’re ridiculously hung up on technology and tools to do our jobs. I’m not sure that’s even debatable at this point. However, the absolute most important resource we need is that thing between our ears.

The lion’s share of brands don’t need half the tech and tools they use on a daily basis. They just don’t. Most organizations don’t need social media management software (alluded to above). Many don’t have the people to analyze the reports many of these social media measurement tools kick out. And, like I said, agencies aren’t of much use here either.

What would I do if I was running a social team in 2018? I thought you’d never ask! I’d take the following approach:

I’d spend very frugally on tools and tech. I would almost under-invest in technology. I’d make sure we were taking absolute full advantage of whatever tech we did have before buying new tools. I’d essentially do the opposite of what everyone else seems to be doing right now.

I’d invest in great, smart, analytical people. I’d over-index on hiring two kinds of people: Creative, problem-solvers and analytical people. Forget hiring “content marketers.” A good creative mind will be every bit as good. And I’d work very hard to find people who can analyze a report and translate for director-level folks and above. That skill seems to be in VERY short demand right now.

I’d outsource with niche and specialized teams and consultants. Instead of hiring larger shops to handle more work, I’d actually do the opposite and work with more specialized firms. I know this might create more “management”, but I’d rather have super-specialists rather than generalists when it comes to social right now. I’ve see the other side (agencies who employ “generalists”, and it’s not pretty).

But, that’s just me. What do I know? I’m apparently very much in the minority in my thinking here. And, I’ve never had the opportunity to manage a social team or budget as I’ve been a consultant ever since the dawn of social media marketing.

I’d be curious to hear what those in these seats are doing/plan to do in 2019. What say you social media marketing leaders?

photo credit: marcoverch Taschenrechner, Bleistift und Radiergummi. Mathematik-Hausaufgaben via photopin (license)



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