Social Media Marketing is Dead

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

In a Millennial-inspired Participation Economy, social media marketing is dead. Now, I didn’t say social media is dead– just the idea that social media marketing and its effectiveness live in tomorrow-land.

Marketers are often pegged with questions related to the future of social media such as:
Is Facebook still relevant? What’s the next social platform? Which is most powerful: a like, share, retweet, favorite?

While these are all fair questions, attempting to grade the social landscape in this manner is counterproductive and missing the greater point.

Yes, millennials are heavy social media users and 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of new digital, social and mobile tools. What drives social media activation for Millennials; however, is Content Excellence®. Your approach to content is what will make or break your marketing communication efforts in the future. Social media is simply one way to activate your content strategy.

Re-Imagine Creative Excellence within a Content Excellence® Framework
For the past 40 plus years, the great brands of yesterday were focused on creative excellence. They “heated, beated and treated” their communications to craft the perfect message then pushed those messages out via various shotgun methodologies, hoping to build brand awareness and regard for their cherished product.

Awareness and regard alone will not correlate in any way to extra-ordinary and sustainable financial performance.

Think of content as an opportunity for your brand voice living everywhere you are not. We used to think of advertising as a means of communicating a message to a certain audience. But, traditional advertising messages are limited to their medium. People experience brands in fluid ways and we can no longer simply rely on creative advertising to make an impact. Content is about the message AND the context.

Your content strategy should be about activating and engaging your digital community in ways that traditional advertising never could.

Focus on creating content that is “Shareworthy”.

Millennials also have a major peer affirmation theme and they share what interests them not what big companies want them to share.


The idea of content being “shareworthy” is nothing new.  Marketers used to encourage sharing by word-of-mouth while today we talk about word-of-mouse.  The “share” is no anomaly; we’ve just shifted from a mindset of advertising ideas to ideas worth advertising.  Treating content in that manner ensures your messaging is meaningful to your audience.

Remember the Seinfeld “Break Up” Episode? George says, “It’s not you; it’s me.”  The “It’s not you; it’s me” principle is key.  Sharing is rooted in peer affirmation and how I feel about myself when I share content with my friends, family and random strangers.  The great brands of tomorrow will inspire sharing rather than pushing out social media messages because millennials share content that adds to THEIR story and bypass content that doesn’t.

Uniqueness & Meaningfulness Will Drive Sustained Brand Success

In the future, the most successful brands will get consumers who are active participants to create more content on behalf of the brand — at their time and expense — than the brand creates for its own benefit. The key to this content is maintaining a certain uniqueness and meaningfulness.

The most unique and meaningful brands will absolutely have the highest probability of sustained economic performance.  Uniqueness will be a proxy for brand pricing authority and meaningfulness will be a proxy for sales volume potential.

The highest performing brands will have a high ratio where uniqueness and meaningfulness are the numerator and awareness and regard are the denominator.

5 Implications for Brand Strategy Professionals:

  1. Build a Content Excellence® strategy first.
  2. Think about content and social media as different players.  Integration will drive performance.  Social media marketing isn’t a strategy.
  3. Inspiration is your brand responsibility.
  4. Useful Is The New Cool®.  Your content should be functional and inspiring.
  5. Participation increases brand value.  Find ways for your most avid brand fans to join the movement.

Greg Vodicka contributed to this post.

Photo Credits via Flickr: Jason Howie & Kris Olin

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.