When social media over-promises.

Poor quality web content and social media.This morning I saw a post on Google+ from a web marketing company I follow.

The post had a headline and about five lines of text. It promised me information that could dramatically improve my web marketing efforts. It was well written and compelling.

So I clicked the link and was taken to the article on the website.

The article was a crashing disappointment. Just basic information that pretty much any online copywriter already knows.

It’s not that the article was bad. It might be useful for someone who had just begun studying the craft of online writing. But that’s not what was sold in the Google+ post.

This is happening more and more. Social media updates over-promise, and the website content they link to under-delivers.

I have stopped following a number of companies for this reason. It’s really annoying to be tricked into clicking through to an article or post that proves to offer far less than I was led to expect.

This is a problem because it diminishes the value of brands.

My high opinion of several companies has been significantly reduced. By using social media these companies have caught my attention more often, but then mismanaged the opportunity by delivering mediocre web content.

Instead of saying, “Hey, look, our brand is even better than you thought!” They are saying, “Hey, look, our brand is becoming really mediocre and disappointing!”

Why is this happening?

It’s because social media has become a place where you have to speak big and loud in order to be seen or heard. Everyone’s social media streams are so busy, and moving so fast, marketers are compelled to “shout” if they want to be noticed.

In other words, if you want to succeed on social media, being quiet and ordinary won’t cut it.

This leaves us with only one option if we want to cure this “over-promising” problem. We have to increase the quality and value of the content we link to.

You can make big promises in social media, but then you have you over-deliver on your website as well.

This is a bit of a no-brainer. So why doesn’t every company over-deliver on its website as well as in its social media streams?

Simple answer: Quality web content costs a lot more money than mediocre content.

Companies go for the short-term win in social media, while undermining the long-term value of their brand on their websites.

This is a terrible way to run a business. Most of any company’s profits are to be found in the future. The combined profits of the next ten years massively exceed the level of profits you can make in the next ten weeks. The true value of your brand resides in the future, not the present.

So when you over-promise in social media, and under-deliver with your website content, you are essentially exchanging a small short-term gain for a massive loss in future profits.

Like I said, a terrible way to run a business.

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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5 thoughts on “When social media over-promises.”

  1. I just got this the other day from Dan Kennedy…


    In virtually every business – whether it’s brick-and-mortar like a corner hardware store or someone selling information products via the internet – the number-one factor in losing customers and turning customers into bad news spreaders is actually very simple.

    It can be summarized as “stated or implicit promises not kept.”

    Sadly, it seems the days of doing business based on “a smile and a handshake” have long since fallen by the wayside. Promises these days tend to include a long laundry listing of fine print, weasel-words, and escape clauses.

    Not the best way to run a railroad.

    One of the biggest Wealth Attractants ever invented is simply saying what you will do and then…

    *** DOING WHAT YOU SAY ***

    When you become known for absolute reliability, customers, clients, opportunity, and money will flow to you in ever increasing abundance.

    The word spreads because you are so rare. Price competition becomes essentially irrelevant.

    Now, just like everyone else, I occasionally get myself into a situation where I can’t meet a deadline or can’t keep a promise. I am maniacal about every commitment, from simple punctuality to the more complex projects… so the operable word is “occasionally.” It makes me nuts when this happens because, as a pragmatist, I know how detrimental to my interests it is.

    When it does occur, I’ve learned not to run and hide or ignore it and hope it goes unnoticed, but to confront it, apologize, and make it right.

    Again, this doesn’t emerge from an ethical or moral obligation, but it’s a result of pragmatism born of experience. I’m choosing the best business strategy.

    Let me leave you with a strategy something rather “advanced” that very few entrepreneurs ever discover:

    *** A less appealing promise KEPT serves you better than making a more appealing promise you can’t, won’t, or don’t keep.

    Well worth adding to your business arsenal.


    I also wanted to comment on a statement you made, because my observation ties directly to your experience. You said, “This is a problem because it diminishes the value of brands.”

    The #1 reason to be online in any capacity–be it a website or social media–is NOT branding. It is POSITIONING. There is nothing giving a business this power like the internet. Just ask Big G. Google’s “brand” is nothing in comparison to its main product’s superior positioning.

    Of course, you want to entertain, educate, empower and engage your audience as much as possible in your every online effort. You do want to “brand” yourself, as such. Yet the ultimate purpose your online efforts facilitate is your ability to be there for your target audience when you are most needed. This typically is when your target audience is actively looking for the solution you provide.

    You were looking for something when you bit on the marketing firm’s G+ pitch. You had some underlying need motivating your desire for information they were offering. So, more than spoiling their brand they completely blew the position they had gained. They failed to satisfy your desire and explore whether you in fact were willing to pay for complete satisfaction. So, their bigger sin was not failing their brand, but rather their bottom line.

  2. Excellent article and excellent response from TC.

    I lurk within a fast expanding UK company who are failing to grasp the implications of what they do (or don’t) say on-line.

    Their web presence – the content of their own website and its articles, their presence on other platforms like Twitter) reads like a Nick Usborne ‘How NOT to…”. It illustrates TC’s point about differentiating between Presence and Positioning.

    As an employee, I guide potential clients AWAY from my company’s website and pray they don’t access it.

    The Nick Usborne School of Internet Motoring still has a huge potential client base…


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