With the rising dominance of Social Media in the lives of consumers marketers are jumping on to the bandwagon and coming up with countless new ideas and strategies to target the supposedly transformed consumer behavior. However, social commerce strategies to drive sales and increase customer loyalty, once implemented have rarely performed as expected or produced measurable results. Unlimited targetability was the premise of both B2B and B2C social media marketing, but consumers turned out to be too unpredictable for such strategies to succeed.

Apparently, consumer behavior can only be best understood and acted upon in scale by grouping similar consumers together. Human behavior is fairly simple and simple models of behavior almost always outperform complex models. One-on-one marketing is good in theory but almost impossible to implement.

This is the golden age of data. Nearly any media metric can be measured and data mining produces quantities of data, however, without substantive data knowledge and proper modeling the data is mostly worthless. As, Eric T. Bradlow, co-director of UPenn’s Wharton Interactive Media Initiative, says, “Many social commerce problems have been addressed previously, and massive amounts of data will not change the continuing need for the understanding of basic and primitive customer behavior which provides the correct lens to view social media data.”

Mass marketing has lost favor in the face of social media marketing and viral marketing. However, mass marketing is still the most effective technique available though it is important, considering the proliferation of media channels, to ensure that the right media channels are selected. Social media marketing requires that very huge numbers of social media users share product recommendations for any significant impact and the same goes for viral marketing. These techniques may be effective for B2B marketers who have concentrated markets but rarely have much impact on B2C marketing. Rarely does the buzz created by such strategies translate in to product purchases.

Content is important but it has impact only if it reaches consumers. Traffic driving strategies such as referral programs must be the cornerstone of marketing policy. Many people try using the “Long Tail” (items which individually sell only in small quantities) niche driven marketing as one way to boost sales but such investment should be made only if justified by volumes.