‘Social media does not work’

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 7, 2013 15:24

This week’s Marketing Minute sees golf pro Sean Mysel discuss his interview with the author of a bestselling book on why social media is overhyped as a marketing tool. How effective is social media for your golf venue?

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 7, 2013 15:24
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  1. Tim February 21, 21:53

    The reason social media doesn’t work is because far too many golf clubs and companies try to run campaigns without fully understanding the process. Check your club I can bet they have at least one tweet a day. Where or who are they tweeting to? You have to build a campaign and from my observations this is still new to golf clubs and they need help.

    How many clubs have a marketing strategy?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ant January 26, 17:29

    So many dismissive comments by the author here that show a lack of basic marketing knowledge.

    If you’re expecting social media to generate a huge ROI on it’s OWN you’re an idiot.

    You can’t just calculate ROI on Social media through direct bookings from it, that’s ridiculous!

    Social Media should be part of an an overall marketing strategy and should compliment what you’re doing on your website and other media.

    Given clubs are struggling to attract the under 30s market (hence why so many offer discounted membership) then it makes perfect sense to allocate some resource to the places where this demographic consume most of their information! You might not get direct sales straight away but the awareness you build may lead to visits to the pro shop, to the course and maybe even membership (do clubs ever ask where you heard about them? I’ve never been asked!)

    I don’t see why the average golf club manager would need to allocate 1 hour + a day to it, that might be necessary in some companies but I can’t see it for a typical golf club.

    Reply to this comment
    • Paul McLean February 5, 22:57

      We have recently started making efforts in using social media, namely Facebook and Twitter, and try to post on average once a day. We are not expecting a direct ROI or even to generate a great deal of revenue. We are trying to create a social community which has a commonality, our facility that helps us get people talking about us and stimulate interest in the club. To that end it seems to be having an effect but Sean I would agree with you that most, if not all, of our followers are already aware of us (members, previous clients, regular clients or friends thereof).

      I would suggest though that using social media as away of interacting with clients has a place. We post funny golf videos, latest news and try to keep it lighthearted and enjoyable without clogging up timelines. Sure it may lead to some sales, in that we stimulate conversation about new arrivals and gain interest from our followers, however you could argue they would see that product when they visit us, with or without reading about it on social media sites first.

      We are using social media to compliment rather than replace our main marketing tools such as advertising across different types of media and using a BDM to physically go out and generate sales by building relationships as well as good old word of mouth. To expect a massive direct return from social media is in my opinion a little naive and short sighted. For a multinational company, sure it has a good use for interaction and even promotion but as Sean says they are so well known in the first place. It also may have a use in trying to police what is being said about their product on social media sites by others.

      As a small business though you are hoping that potential customers will stumble across your page amongst the masses of pages available even if they have a common interest, i.e. golf. That is not a viable marketing tool on its own.

      Used correctly (and I am still learning how to do it) I believe social media can help build on existing client relationships and create continued interest in a golf club environment, which can only be a good thing but I would not spend masses of time and money on it as I believe such large investments could be more effective placed in other marketing opportunities.

      We could all find examples of how social media has worked in specific cases and also how it has not worked in others but I think we should use it to whatever extent we feel it can help our own business (or not if thats the case) and utilise our resources for it accordingly.

      Reply to this comment
      • Sean Mysel March 3, 02:59


        Thanks for the very well thought out comment. I would say this, I have a major problem with people believing that it’s an absolute necessary aspect of your club. Also, I have a problem with marketers saying that it’s responsible for this or that along. You and I know we don’t live in a vacuum and there’s a lot of factors that contribute to our success or failures.

        I can say this for sure though if you do your research on customers, get in their heads and test your marketing…you will succeed.

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  3. Mork January 17, 11:55

    it works its the way ahead, no one will say different between golfers. very poor video soryy

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  4. G Johnson January 16, 17:02

    it costs nothing but time and can be managed an hour a day.

    Reply to this comment
    • Sean Mysel January 17, 12:28

      Isn’t time valuable? I’m skeptical that one hour a day gets it done. I’ve read that book, it’s non descriptive to say the least

      Reply to this comment
  5. G Johnson January 16, 17:01

    Its raining, courses in the area are shut, we are open

    we have a membership offer on (we got 12 new members that followed us and werent previously members Over 8k revenue)

    you can pay py direct debit and we have a link to a health club (new members)

    society deals and contact with society organisers

    management of members concerns

    advertising of opens and social events

    So many people misuse or misunderstand the media and label it useless….

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  6. G Johnson January 16, 16:54

    I have direct examples from case studies of social media generating revenue for golf clubs over a 12 month period in different areas, some traditional private members, some proprietary. It is ridiculous to suggest it doesnt work. Application by one individual may not work, it needs the right environment, product, control etc but it does work, it spreads awareness. It is the newspaper, maagazine of today. It is the very same principle but with more opportunity.

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  7. Adrian Stiff January 9, 13:12

    These things are always hard to quantify, having done a fair bit of personal research into these things I would tend to side with Sean that overall its not worth it. You can get ‘likes’ with your friends but whats the point, you need new customers to understand your product for any ADVERT to work and ADVERT is the key word all types of promotion, social, hard copy relate to attracting new business. A good website is essential, that’s your shop window. If I was in Cheshire tomorrow and wanted to play golf in an area I knew little about I would sift through the internet until I found the right course, for me it would not be a bargain basement course. More local people though just want to golf and are more attracted by price. For many a round of golf at £10 beats a round of golf at £11, good greens, nice layout, great conditions dont factor for some. I don’t think I would be influenced by a facebook AD, but talking on facebook or forums is still interacting with friends. Word of mouth is still the best but you could make a case that online interaction is still word of mouth.

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  8. Tom Munt January 9, 12:04

    We are currently experimenting with Social Media at a small members Club. I am from a sales background and echo many of the points made in the video. We also have a member of the committee who is a very talented marketing consultant who sees great value in social media. I suppose that if you see social media as a means of marketing or PR you are willing to accept a low or even intangible relationship with sales. My reservation relates to the ‘return on investment’ (ROI). The next person to tell me Social Media is free will more than likely receive a slap! With a medium that relies on regular, relevant and interesting updates, often several times a day, as a Club Manager, how much of my time will it take and what is the cost of that to the Club. Early suggestions are that managing twitter and Facebook take between 2 and 6 hours a week between me and the professional team. When compared with the expected return of dedicating this time to networking events, cold calls, direct marketing and other methods of driving sales, this does not make sense to me.

    Yes you could get a volunteer to do it but much of the conversation on such sites very quickly becomes more akin to bar-side banter than the clear and on brand messages of our marketing efforts. When operated by an enthusiastic volunteer you wait and see how long it takes for the social media to reflect personal opinion rather than company policy!

    I agree that social media offers opportunities to engage with members and visitors and to communicate with large numbers relatively easily. I do think however that in small businesses with limited resources, it is imperative that Golf Clubs ensure the very best return on investment. I am not convinced that Social Media can offer that!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Mark Hainsworth January 8, 19:10

    Interesting stuff Sean though I have a scenario for you.
    There is a course that I have fancied playing that’s a little way from me, I’m very well served with all manner of courses in my area so have never got round to it.
    I do though follow that course on Twitter, as a result of their social media activity and a particular tweet I visited their website, whilst there I signed up to a database.
    Before Christmas I received a mailshot through the post including a voucher for a discounted fourball. It’s prompted me into action, I’ll be using it next week and if the course meets expectations we may book a society day for 25 golfers.
    So, when the club does it’s marketing analysis what is the source of that business? Twitter, website or mailshot?
    I suppose what I’m really saying is that social media does have a role to play but not in isolation.

    Reply to this comment
    • Sean Mysel January 8, 21:20


      Great scenario. Let me give you an example of how spot on that analysis is. Take Justin Bieber. The story goes that he was “found” on YouTube by Justin Timberlake and Usher. What really happened is Bieber participated on a TV show in Canada, which promoted the videos on YouTube, but he was already being looked at by talent agents for those two artists. So yes, can social media be successful in a vacuum…absolutely possible.

      My point and BJ’s point is that what major corporations do is not simply attributable to social media. In the case of the club you mentioned, you probably already knew about it, but I would be willing to guess you would have bought through radio, tv, newspaper or email if they offered something of value to you. I scored a group of 17 women golfers for lessons through e-mail. But it took a couple phone calls, research, and deep understanding of their needs before they committed.

      Great question!

      Reply to this comment
      • Mark Hainsworth January 9, 12:54

        Yes you’re quite right would have bought whatever medium presented me the offer at the time I am ready to buy. It illustrates, I suppose, the need for a complementary mix of marketing methods.
        It will be interesting to see how this develops as the golfing demographic changes and the iPhone social media generation gets older.

        Reply to this comment
  10. Morris Whatmore January 8, 17:09

    Has anyone really know of a Golf Professional that is a really good outlook on business… My experience to date has been very disappointing…..
    I would go with the masses….

    Reply to this comment
  11. Mike January 8, 15:07

    I think if you are going to point out all the negative aspects that social media brings you might as well talk about how tee time sites are damaging brand integrity and devaluing courses.

    The internet and social media is too powerful to be ignored. There are some services out there that could sell far more golf than a course could give away and do it in a way that makes sense and works for all parties involved.

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  12. Mark A January 7, 17:09

    77,000 transactions a year, 1% = 770 transactions. Average green fee rate £25, income £20,000. Not exactly a waste of time !

    Reply to this comment
    • Sean Mysel January 8, 13:21

      If you want to spend your time generating .00005 of your total revenue like Dell Computer it’s a great investment. One problem though, you’re not considering the costs of a employee to run the social media or if you’re investing money in a marketing firm to do it for you.

      Another point, if you have a website like most clubs do, doesn’t having something like Facebook seem a bit redundant?

      Reply to this comment
      • Mike January 8, 22:45

        I agree with considering costs to get those returns, but the key word is returns. Social media is not the problem it’s the types of social media that are being used.

        If you were to to traditional marketing you could use the same argument. You might get 20% more business, but what is the cost associated with that. How much staff did you have to hire or how much did you have to spend to get a company to do something?

        Reply to this comment
        • Sean January 9, 13:26

          Want to do highly effective marketing? Three things: get inside your customer’s heads, find where yoyr customer is and test out your offer.

          Reply to this comment
  13. Stephen January 7, 17:01

    As this video demonstrates, social media is still an unknown tool for business’s to generate revenue & be used as a marketing tool.In golf where clubs are managed in most cases by a comity of non business men & women or marketers – generally something that is free must be something that works.When a business then is voted to stop being pro-active & only use social media, without knowing anything about it – it leads to people being miss sold what is expected & in turn tarnishing that medium as something that doesn’t achieve their miss sold idea of what is realistic.
    Social media is a social thing & just like with Google advertising to you continually & annoying you, that drives people away as they don’t use social sites to be “sold too”
    Yes it holds value in interacting with your current client based & yes you might get lucky with a re-tweet on twitter going to someone that doesn’t know about you & what is on offer – but that is as likely as stepping on the golf course & hitting a hole in one with your driver!
    Social Media is a social platform to be sociable about topics that interest you – simple. You follow people and things that you like.
    Marketing is about reaching as wide a specific audience as possible with your brand, product and service – if the product you have is at the right price, at the right time, in front of the correct people, it will be a success – why do people over spend at Christmas – for all of the reasons listed above! Missing one of those components will effect your results. Is social media a part of that – I would argue yes, its more interactive for your clients then a part on your website saying “please send us your feedback”

    Reply to this comment
    • Sean Mysel January 7, 17:36


      Completely fair point! If a social media marketer says, “right now it’s an unknown, but here’s why I think it may eventually become something..” I’m fine with that. No one knows what the future holds, but to get on a soapbox and tell you it absolutely works for everyone is just untrue.

      Reply to this comment
  14. Sean Mysel January 7, 16:20

    Is social media absolutely necessary to facilitate a positive experience?

    Reply to this comment
  15. Miklos Breitner January 7, 16:01

    It is not true that social media is not working. Here are some examples> http://blog.kissmetrics.com/thrive-on-twitter/ or some Groupon examples > http://golfbusinessmonitor.typepad.com/golf_industry/2012/08/is-groupon-a-threat-to-golf-clubs.html. Some people have a misconception about social media. These people think it is the same like any other channels plus neglect the importance of providing positive customer experience and how to use conversations to promote our products, services. In the era of empowered customers we should take even more seriously importance of customer experience, since our customers have more tools at their disposal than ever before. This result that bad experience or bad opinion about our product, service can spread can really fast and harm our sales and reputation. My recommendation is> define first your objectives / define with who you want to talk with / based on these define your KPIs.

    Reply to this comment
    • Sean Mysel January 7, 23:07

      In regards to the Twitter article you posted, have you noticed the brands mentioned are billion dollar companies? Don’t you think that having a huge marketing budget, tv ads, and press coverage has anything to do with their followers or “engagement”? You give me this example and I tell you that General Motors walked away from Facebook because they got nothing out of marketing on there.

      Show me concrete examples where a small business got customers to go directly from Facebook, Twitter or some other platform and consistently sold product through that platform.

      Reply to this comment
      • Mike January 8, 22:43

        General Motors did not discontinue Facebook because they weren’t getting anything out of it. They discontinued it because they were bailed out and had to cut costs where they could. They benefitted from it just not enough on it’s own to substantiate the budge that they had put forth to it. They laid off an entire social media department not just facebook.

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        • Sean January 9, 16:43

          Mike GM is solvent and paid back their loans to the government. They bailed from FB because it would take a year to get any ROI

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