Social Media is a SCAM


Social Media still has a dubious reputation in parts of the business world. Many people believe that its claims are bogus and that its evangelists, people like me, are charlatans. They essentially believe that the whole thing is a scam. Especially those that advocate the use of social media for marketing.

Well, let me tell you not only is social media marketing a scam the very best social media marketing incorporates all the elements of SCAM. To do otherwise is just being unnecessarily risky with your money:

Of course by SCAM I mean: Specific, Complementary, Achievable, and Measurable. They are important factors to consider when you are preparing any social media marketing campaign.


Let me ask you this, when you embark upon a traditional advertising campaign do you just hop on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it? Do you say, ‘Let’s do a television commercial. Everyone is doing them!’? Or do you carefully research every facet and then prepare a targeted campaign so that you can get the best return on your investment? It’s no different when you’re using social media.

You need to be specific with your social media marketing, just as you would with your traditional media campaigns. Not only with regard to whom you are targeting but also specific in the goals you are trying to obtain. Just because every Fortune 500 company has a fan page on Facebook doesn’t mean that you should run out and create one too. You need to know why you need one and what you hope to use it for. Otherwise you’re more than likely missing valuable opportunities and possibly wasting your efforts altogether.

For instance, do you know the difference between Facebook’s fan pages and their groups? They’re similar but they do have defined differences. Do you need one or the other or both? Before you begin you must be specific about what you are trying to achieve and only then should you adopt the strategy and choose the tools to achieve those goals.


Recently Singapore Post as part of a viralesque marketing campaign decided to dress up some of their post boxes with graffiti. Unfortunately, graffiti is a major issue in Singapore and the police got involved. The media soon latched onto the story as well. Singpost got a lot of media buzz as a result, but was it the right sort of attention? Why would a company whose main clientèle is the business community with a reputation for being reliable and dependable suddenly choose to go gangsta?

Unless you’re trying to actively undermine your corporate image – and thereby appeal to a different demographic – your social media marketing campaigns should complement your traditional efforts. Conflicting messages only risk damaging your brand. Doing something because it is trendy or cool isn’t always the best way to generate a return on your investment. Singpost eventually saw that discretion was the better part of valour and turned their graffiti campaign into works of public art (like the one shown here). It’s baffling trying to determine the logic behind the graffiti campaign and it’s hard to imagine what possible returns they were expecting. However It certainly caused a stir in the media and amongst the general populace but much of it was negative.


One of the first questions you need to ask when you’re developing a strategy is what is the minimum result required from the campaign to be considered a success? Then you need to ask can you achieve that minimum and, if the answer is yes, how? If your Singapore-based startup chooses to use an online ‘viral’ video to promote themselves and they need 1 million click-thrus just from Singapore for it to be a success then the odds are they aren’t going to achieve that. They may be better off trying an alternative approach that better targets their selected demographic.

You need to work through your strategy and ensure that your aims are achievable. By all means shoot for the moon but make sure you can achieve some sort of successful result even if you miss.


If you can’t measure it then you can’t determine its success. Even if you just use basic metrics like those I mentioned in The Importance of Metrics you need to find a way to measure how successful your social media marketing campaign has been.

Sure, you may have a lot of views on your online video, but how many click-thrus are you getting? Is it the right sort of demographic that your advertising is appealing to? You need to know these, because at the end of the day it’s not enough to know how many people saw your campaign, it’s how much the campaign benefited your company and in what way. Unless you can measure that in a logical and objective way there’s a good chance you’re wasting your money.

By applying the SCAM test to your social media marketing endeavours you’re placing a greater emphasis upon achieving a result for the company and not catering to the hype that currently surrounds social media. Utilising this method lessens the chance of making mistakes and increases the opportunity to correct them if they do happen. Don’t scam yourself. Use SCAM!

† If the answer is yes, then please send me all your money =).

Slider Image Attribution: chooyutshing

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

Connect with him on Twitter or Google Plus.
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Post Under Advice, Marketing, Social Media April 23, 2010

One Response to “Social Media is a SCAM”

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