405119553_6f791c6df7_mThe other day a post from Forbes by Jayson DeMers crossed my stream. The article was titled Myth Busted: My Industry Isn’t a Good Fit for Social Media. I already knew this was going to be a problematic post for me, but I decided to wade in anyway. Then I read the following words: “In this article, however, I’ll demonstrate how 4 companies in unlikely, ‘unsexy’ industries or situations have experienced positive ROI through their social media efforts. The point being: if they can do it, why can’t you?”

Let’s ignore the fact that all of the businesses cited in the article are B2C – a nursing home, a plumber, a cupcake company, and a dentist. What I want to focus on today is the concept that if something works for one company or one individual, it must work for everybody. This kind of view is omnipresent in the online world of marketing advice, and it is one of the most misleading concepts I run into on a regular basis.

There is a very simple human parallel to this kind of bad advice, and that is the idea that any health advice offered to one person would be beneficial for everybody. Would you say to someone, “Well, I took this medicine and it worked for me. Why wouldn’t it work for you?” Let’s hope not. What about, “I did this workout plan and it worked for me. Why wouldn’t it work for you?” That would just be silly. Human beings are so different from each other in so many ways that the idea that one solution could work for everybody is kind of preposterous.

Guess what? It’s the same for businesses.

Trying to establish a presence on every new social media platform may be perfectly feasible for a company with a large marketing staff and a seemingly endless marketing budget. That might not even be remotely plausible for a small business where the person in charge of marketing is also in charge of HR and sales.

An AdWords strategy may reap endless dividends for one company but it might go totally flat for another company. This could be because relevant keywords aren’t often searched or perhaps the keyword is too competitive to make headway.

Building relationships with people who have huge followings online (“influencers” as they are sometimes called) can be extremely beneficial for some kinds of businesses, particularly businesses that work in the social media space. If your customers know who those “influencers” are, they will find it meaningful that you have a relationship with those people. If you are a B2B manufacturer, however, your customers, like many of ours, will have no idea who Chris Brogan or Guy Kawasaki is. They want to know how to reach out to the experts in their own industries. That may or may not be a social media proposition, by the way.

In social media, there is pressure to offer advice that would resonate with anyone who sees it. To that end, we offer soundbytes, made-up words and phrases, and anything else that might make us seem knowledgeable yet catchy. However, offering advice based on the idea that it worked for one company and thus will work for everyone is not only bad advice, it could actually lead companies down paths that will ultimately hurt their bottom lines.

Our advice is to listen to all advice that is given, but then take that extra pause and ponder whether that advice would really work for your specific company. It just may, but then again, it may not. You’re in the best seat to make that call.

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-coli/405119553 via Creative Commons