10/03/2011 10:20 pm ET

Knowing When to Be Anti-Social

Like a new toy at Christmas, marketers across the country ran to embrace social media marketing. The new buzz-ness word, corporations and agencies clamored to get their products and services on Facebook, Twitter and other such destinations.

There is, however, a reality that all marketers must face. Sometimes, social media marketing isn't the right avenue for a company's business. If either a) your audience is not on FB or Twitter or b) those who are don't want to engage your product/service within social media, spending even a dime of your time or effort or budget is a waste of money.

Recently, I consulted with a company that wanted to giveaway samples of its products on Facebook. Their product had a target age of 55+. It was developed to assist those who were constipated and/or had heart problems. Spending money on Facebook was a compete waste of the company's money, as the target audience was simply not there. The client, however, wanted to use the vehicle regardless of why. Therein lies the danger of any marketing avenue. If it doesn't move your needle forward, it is a failed effort.

Not to be outdone, traditional marketing often makes a similar mistake. Shopper Mom influences and/or makes over 90% of purchase decisions at retail. Therefore, attempting to woo Dad or kids in most situations is a waste of time. If you tell children they'll be like Michael Jordan when they drink Gatorade, you might get some children's "nag factor." If you tell Mom it will keep her 10-year old safe from harm on the soccer pitch by supplying electrolytes and nutrients to her child's body, you'll do a whole lot better.

It's often difficult to skip the latest marketing craze. Young brand managers looking to prove themselves want to jump on bandwagons that might be "new news" to their superiors. There are litmus tests, however, for such decisions. Does the move to social media (or any other marketing avenue) meet the wants/needs/desires of your target audience? Is this target audience engaged in that avenue? Do they want to interact with your product in such a forum?

A client said he wanted to spend more money on Facebook. The product had a whopping 98 friends already on the medium, pretty horrific for a nationally branded product. Simply put, it was not the correct platform for the product. Attempting to reach consumers through social media for his product was a wasted effort.

It is true that the shiny new bike is often too tempting to avoid. In the field of marketing, however, the vehicle should be the best one to reach your audience and exact positive change. A new bike, without spokes, is simply a lost effort for you and your consumers.