Watching the 1988 movie of a similar name, a wonderful farce about a jilted lover past the breaking point, got us wondering how the Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar, would depict current day social media marketers, manically going about their workdays. (Aziz Ansari from Parks and Rec in the leading role?)

You see social marketers are engaged in a content arms race consisting of tweets, stats, quotes and other minutiae being generated in an ever increasing avalanche on social media sites daily. In the process they are driving themselves to the verge of a nervous breakdown.

We recently spoke to the head of digital marketing at a soon to IPO tech company. On the way in to the office one morning he was struck by dread “what was I going to post?” This is a real concern in the modern marketing arms race measured by how many people are following the company online.

We think for most companies, certainly all B2B companies, piling content on social media isn’t sustainable and serves no purpose other than to fill weekly status reports. It can’t possibly be targeted, isn’t being read and is taking valuable resources away from other things the marketing department could be doing. Folks who study this sort of stuff agree:

  • Forrester found that posts from top brands on Twitter and Facebook reach just 2% of their followers (that’s followers, not new customers)
  • According to a McKinsey, since 2008  companies have devoted more time and money to social networks and 20% less to e-mail communications. Yet, the same study found that humble e-mail remains a more effective way to acquire customers — nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.

There is a better way for B2B companies to engage in social media marketing. Rather than loading up their own channels with manufactured content, they should be monitoring online conversations on forums and participating where appropriate.

Think about it: marketers are trying to attract new customers who probably know nothing about the company and certainly aren’t reading the company’s tweets. These prospects are online for sure but they are looking for recommendations on birds-of-the-same-feather community forums and discussion groups. For example, if you’re trying to attract patients to your maternity ward hospital marketing staff should be spending a lot of time on TheBump.com, not sending hourly tweets on your Twitter handle.

CMOs can stop the useless race drowning corporate marketing teams in a sea of content by changing how social media is being measured. Rather than making social media performance about indirect volume measures such as awareness or influencer score, social marketing teams should be measured more directly: the number of quality weekly conversations engaged in. Rather than continue a useless content arms race, B2B marketers would do well to be more selective about how they are engaging on social media.

[Image of movie director Pedro Almodovar via IMDb.com]