Have you been approached by a social media marketer recently? They promise massive “engagement” and tons of love from your customers. Truth is…it’s all bullsh*t. BJ Mendelson, author of “Social Media Is Bullsh*t” explains why in this question and answer session along with the video:

1. Recently Forrester Research reported that sales linked to social media resulted in less than 1% of sales over 77,000 transactions. In the face of this type of data, why do companies increase spending in social media ads?

A lot of it is intimidation. People don’t want to look stupid, so you run into many instances where, even if they have stories of failure doing a Facebook marketing campaign, they don’t say anything to anyone. They instead just keep trying it because nobody really says this stuff doesn’t work out loud, and that’s a very human thing to not want to rock the boat and say something that’s against conventional wisdom. So they just keep making the same mistake over and over.

And then you have the media which is no help at all because they don’t talk critically about what these tools can and can’t do. And that’s all they are, just tools. You just hear these “Golly gee whiz wow, look at how amazing Twitter is” stories and people buy into that, not realizing that they’re just tools and how they work for each of us is going to be different.

2. In your book, you make reference to social media marketers as “snake oil” salesmen. What type of tactics do they use that make you see them this way?

There’s a guy named Dave Kerpin. I debated him at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit. He’s now doing everything in his power to keep the video from that debate from appearing anywhere because he was exposed as a total fraud. One of the things he did was bulk purchase copies of his first book, which got it onto the NYT Best Sellers List. He then released a case study, that didn’t mention the bulk purchasing, saying that social media was the reason his book sold so well. He wound up outing himself on stage during the debate about the bulk purchase, and then had a bizarre meltdown a day later on Twitter, but that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

3. I’ve read 50 articles from social media marketers which cite the number of people using certain platforms. Why do you think these numbers are thrown out to companies so often?

Because that’s all they have to stand on. You often hear stuff like, “Facebook has a billion users, so that puts you in front of a billion potential customers” because what else do they have? When you look at the facts, that people patently use Facebook only for connecting with friends and family, and those are almost always people they know offline anyway, they don’t click on ads (nor like them), status updates only live for about 11 minutes, and even the top scientists who study how users interact with people and ads on these platforms can’t draw a straight line connecting what happened on the platform to what happened offline, you see real quick that the marketers and other members of the Asshole Based Economy have nothing to stand on aside from very superficial things that don’t hold up.

4. Can you recall a company that had any traceable success with social media? What about major disasters after investing in social media?

It’s hard to attribute anyone’s success specifically to social media because more often than not, what’s happening on social media is a reflection of many other factors that are all in play at the same time. That said, you can certainly find people who made connections online that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and that’s certainly true that you can have successes that way, but in terms of saying “I did X, and then Y happened for me”, those are incredibly rare when it relates to X being something that was done exclusively on Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other platforms. There’s so much more to the story.

Now in terms of failure though, because people don’t realize or understand there are these many other factors in play, there are plenty of failures. So Cisco’s Ted from Accounting is the one I like to give, and I talk about that in “Social Media Is Bullshit”, among other failures. The short version is that Cisco wanted to do a ripoff of a successful Old Spice campaign using only Twitter, and it failed miserably because those other factors weren’t taken into account.