10 Surefire Ways For A Business To Fail At Social Media

There are a lot of ways to engage in social media, some of them effective…some of them not. If your organization is considering getting active in social or if you’re analyzing your current efforts, take a look at the following list and make sure you’re not undermining the success of your activities.

Want to fail at social media? Consider doing the following:

1) Think of social networking in old-school marketing terms – If you’re “segmenting” or “targeting” or “profiling”, you need to rethink. Social networking is not about sending messages to like-minded groups of people. It’s about building one-on-one relationships and communicating with individuals and then empowering those individuals to (hopefully) sing the praises of your organization, products, and services to their friends and family. It’s not about blasting messages to groups of people based on demographic profile. When you build relationships in your personal life, do you “segment” or “target”? No. You meet individuals, build relationships, share information, and discuss common experiences. Online social networking is no different.

Are you engaging with your community on Facebook or other social media sites?

photo courtesy of anitakhart on Flickr

2) Don’t allow commenting or don’t respond when comments are left – A recent, cross-industry study by socialbakers indicates that 95% of posts left on a Facebook page go unanswered. Really? Your customers are interested in interacting with you (good or bad), you have created a channel where they can engage, yet you choose to ignore them? Or even worse, don’t allow them to comment at all. Easy recipe for social media disaster.

3) Post your print ads or TV commercials on your Facebook page or YouTube channel and leave it at that – Social networking is not about advertising and social media sites are not the place to post up your latest print ad like a virtual corkboard. If you have content that is valuable to your community, great, Post it up! This doesn’t mean that you can’t post up your ads/commercials, just make sure that they are the minority of your content and the other 80%-90% of your content is conversational, educational, or somehow offers value to your visitors.

4) Write blog articles that read like stereo instructions or were written solely for SEO purposes – No one ever read a blog post and then said “Wow! I really enjoyed that post because it was keyword-rich, used the appropriate meta tags, and was completely SEO-optimized!” Your readers don’t care about SEO optimization, so don’t let your SEO efforts ruin your writing. Additionally, unless you’re writing to a very specific niche, try to keep industry jargon to a minimum.

5) Engage in every channel you can find without any real direction or purpose – Want to know a quick way to spread your social media resources too thin? Try to engage in every channel out there. There are a TON of social channels and trying to engage in every one will only end in social media fatigue. Pick the channels that mean the most to your community and start with those. Then, grow into other channels slowly and only if they make sense.

6) Expect everything you post to “go viral” – Unless you’re asking your pharmacist about cold medicine, you should erase the term “viral” from your vocabulary. Too many folks measure the success of a social media tactic on whether it “went viral”. The reality is that many things go viral for negative reasons, just ask Nestle, Maytag, or United Airlines. It’s much more reasonable to ask “did our community find that content to be valuable?”.

How do you measure whether something goes viral on social networks?

7) Don’t create a plan and don’t measure your activities – If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never end up where you want to me. Developing a social media plan is critical and it’s important to measure whether you’re activities are actually meeting the goals of that plan. Without measurement, you’ll never know whether you are succeeding and never be able to justify continued involvement and additional budget requests.

8 ) Don’t put any effort into understanding the wants and needs of your community – Do you know who you want to read your blog posts, tweets, and engage with you on Facebook? Do you understand how and where your customers are engaging? Have you taken time to analyze what the sentiment is about your products and services? How about how the community feels about your competition? If you  haven’t done this analysis yet, you’re likely not going to hit the mark when it comes to providing value to the community.

9) Don’t allocate appropriate resources – Social media is time consuming and engaging isn’t just about posting or tweeting. It’s about planning, listening, analyzing, engaging, writing, communicating, evolving. If you don’t allocate the appropriate people and budget, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

10) Have a “one and done” attitude – If you think having a Facebook page or a blog is enough, you’re probably missing out on a lot of potential opportunities. A broad range of social networks exist because they each serve a different purpose or niche. While it’s good to focus your energies on those channels that are most important, find ways to evolve into additional channels in future. Think about how a channel like Twitter could compliment your blog as an announcement/engagement channel. Or think about how YouTube might compliment your Facebook strategy by adding educational videos to your content. Start small, but plan on growing.

There you have it! 10 surefire ways for organizations to fail at social media. Have other suggestions to add to the list? Feel free to leave them in a comment!


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