• Emily Malone

‘Social media’s a waste of time’ and other outdated marketing opinions

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

We stumbled upon a post from HubSpot that we think highlights an ongoing struggle in the world of marketing. The struggle of your CEO putting forth an opinion or idea any modern marketer would cringe at. These outdated marketing opinions can really hinder your business’s success, especially if they’re coming from the chief.

However, we know it isn’t necessarily the CEO’s fault. The thing is, many chief executives just don’t come from a marketing background, and even if they do, at times their knowledge can be a bit outdated.

There was an array of comments on this subject, some agreeing and some not. Of course, not every CEO is the work equivalent of your nan giving you fashion advice. But the fact is that marketing is always changing, and becoming increasingly technical, whether CEOs realise it or not.

Here are six examples of suggestions commonly made by CEOs that indicate their marketing views need to get the next stair lift out of the office. Immediately.

 1) I want more press releases!

If your CEO says this, “usually it’s a demand for some sort of self-serving, inward-looking ‘announcement'”, says HubSpot. Vanity releases are often brand focused, full of meaningless superlatives and hype that no one will care about except the people you work with.

What’s possibly worse is in the comments section, where Patty Lundy writes:

“Beware any CEO who uses the term ‘press release.’ It’s outdated, conjuring up images of editors at print publications waiting for releases to arrive in the mail.”

Instead, Patty believes “a more apt phrase today is ‘media release.'” This is a really good point, as often the old terminology can be a giveaway alone.

What to do if your CEO says this:

  1. If your CEO has unbearably strong beliefs about the ‘power of press releases’, don’t fight it. Do a couple, as this will demonstrate exactly why they don’t work.

  2. You can use them as examples to showcase their futility, and show your CEO the negative return on investment (ROI).

  3. After you’ve shown the ineffectiveness, point out the cost of doing these releases, including the number of hours involved from your team. Then show how you can reallocate that budget towards efforts that will be more effective at getting your business media coverage, such as a lovely chunk of content!

2)  Our blog should talk more about how great we are.

This is basically the equivalent of that one guy who only talks about himself and never asks you a single question. If your blog constantly focuses on your business instead of your customers’ needs, you’ll basically be viewed as ‘that guy’ no one wants to make eye contact with at the Christmas party.

This is a trend of the past, way back when companies could get away with just blogging about themselves all the time. Now, customers want to see how you’re helping them, not how good you are. Writing blogs is an essential part of inbound marketing, and can ensure that you’re really speaking to your customers.

What to do if your CEO says this:

  1. If your CEO needs to be indulged, however, go ahead (just to prove another point!)

  2. You could dedicate a section or category of your blog to ‘Company News’, or even create a ratio of only one company focused blog post to every eight posts that you think people will actually want to read.

  3. Then, track your stats and show your CEO how much traffic those posts are getting compared to the ones that are helpful to customers.

3) Social media is a waste of time.

Of course, we know how important social media is now, especially when it comes to influencing search traffic, but most CEOs are skeptical. They don’t take into account the positive top-of-the-funnel effects of social media.

What to do if your CEO says this:

  1. As social media is very much top of the funnel stuff, the ROI can sometimes trip up a marketer when they’re trying to prove its value. The best thing to do in this situation is to explain that social media gets people engaging with your posts and looking at your website, which ultimately leads to the bottom of the funnel stuff.

  2. An extra push might be to remind them that social media doesn’t have to take up much time. Though, of course, if you want to see top results, more time allocated would be better.

4) What do you mean I can’t fight back on Twitter?

I very recently saw a post from a club that had just advertised Ronnie Pickering will be at one of their events (you know, the Youtube sensation who wanted a round of fisticuffs with the go-pro wearing motorcyclist).

Lots of their followers had a lot of negative things to comment about this; if you’re up to date with Reddit or Facebook, you probably know who Ronnie Pickering is and why people are confused he’s ‘performing’ at a nightclub.

Unfortunately, the club put out a response post on Facebook beginning ‘Oh Chill Out FFS!!!’ which in turn led to people attacking the business even more with the likes of ‘Who runs your social media? A 15-year-old chav?’

Lots of CEOs are tempted to respond when they or their company is under ‘attack’ by someone on social media. In the past, these kinds of comments wouldn’t have reached the CEO – they would have instead been relegated to someone whose job involves receiving incoming complaints. But now, things are different. HubSpot says:

“If your CEO has a presence on social media, it’s generally a pretty good thing if it leads to positive interactions and a greater understanding of what people in your industry are talking about […] The increased transparency and access that your CEO has on social media is helpful in some ways, but if your chief executive has a flair for the negative, or worse yet, the combative, you may want to try a few things.”

What to do if your CEO says this:

  1. HubSpot suggests that you ensure your CEO knows your team will be happy to craft helpful responses or to review them prior to publishing. Everyone can use an extra pair of eyes.

  2. Secondly, they advise that you show the CEO some other profiles of executives on social media. This will showcase those who are good at ignoring the haters and interacting with fans.

  3. Thirdly, HubSpot suggests that you should encourage the company to use any negative comments to highlight areas where you’re looking to improve.

5) That piece of content will never lead to a sale.

‘If your CEO makes a comment like this, it highlights a narrow and short-sighted view that does not take into account the longer-range perspective that marketers must take in order to generate the necessary volume of leads that sales relies on.’

What a lot of CEOs don’t understand is that the content you create generates long-term traffic that will result in future sales.

For example, some blog posts if shared correctly can even generate more and more traffic each month after they’re published. Most CEOs are bottom of the funnel focused, so it often takes an SEO expert to clearly explain the role of social “signals” that are used by search engines to determine how your page ranks in keyword results.

What to do:

  1. HubSpot suggests educating your CEO one step at a time. Highlight the pages, videos, and other content that helped lead to a sale by selectively sharing a ‘prequel’ behind a new customer win. Once you have a good and impressive selection of these ‘prequels’ to the sale, identify clear trends. For example, ‘81% of our new customers visited our blog at some point during the sales process.’

  2. Show the relationship between content and customers so your CEO can see the light.

6) Friction between sales and marketing is normal.

Actually, this one’s true. The issue of sales and marketing not getting on is, in fact, the norm. But these days it shouldn’t be.

‘Unfortunately for marketers, many CEOs are more inclined to align with Sales than with marketing because up until recently, marketing was viewed more as art than science.’

HubSpot says that without the clear, easy-to-understand closed loop reporting available now, marketers used to be easier to blame than sales when things go wrong. But even now, when marketers have more tools and data available to prove that what they’re doing is working, CEOs often don’t have the time or patience to learn how to understand the data.

What to do if your CEO says this:

  1. Realise that having a strong sales and marketing alignment can help you here.

  2. Remember that ‘Smarketing’ is on the uprise, and soon that friction between sales and marketing will be a thing of the past.

  3. Get yourself a partner in crime in sales, meet with them frequently to make sure you’re both speaking the same language and work through the funnel metrics together.

  4. Find the recent successes and co-present them to your CEO to highlight exactly which areas are working, allowing equal amounts of time for the marketing side as sales.

  5. Build an ally in sales and strengthen that relationship, as it’s becoming more and more key for growth.


CEOs can’t be experts in every single department, so don’t be too frustrated when they don’t understand the modern marketing intricacies that drive growth. ‘It’s a painful reality for many marketers that prevents many businesses from moving forward and realising their full potential’ concludes HubSpot, but ‘as a marketing leader, take your share of responsibility for bridging the gap between outdated notions and modern mindsets.’ Be the change you want to see!