5 Reasons Why Social Media Failed You
Ah. Social Mediaâ€¦ You were told it would fix everything. It would boost sales, improve customer relations, manage your online reputation, and reduce every bit of overhead you have. So what went wrong?
Well, to tell you the truth, anything could have gone wrong. Maybe everything went wrong.
You see, the fact about social media is that itâ€™s just a buzzword. It encompasses all kinds of silly things (from Facebook to blogs). Depending on what your goals are some of those things make much sillier business sense than others.
Rules of Social Media Engagement
So, â€œsocial mediaâ€ is just a buzzword. But itâ€™s a buzzword because it encompasses any digital medium that allows top-down, bottom-up, and peer-to-peer communication. Social media is a more than a two-way medium. Itâ€™s a multi-medium.
And that is its potential as a marketing tool. Social Media doesnâ€™t just let you have a conversation with your target market; it lets your customers have conversations with other (potential) customers. Independent, third-party endorsements are worth so much more than any tagline or jingle.
But because itâ€™s a relationship driven multi-medium, you have to respect the rules of engagement:
- Relationships come before sales,
- You go to the community, the community doesnâ€™t come to you,
- Communities are grown, not built,
- Donâ€™t try to replace the community, and
- Content is king.
So if social media isnâ€™t working for you, try asking yourself if youâ€™re breaking any of these rules.
1. You Tried to Drive Sales
Maybe you read it on a blog. Maybe you heard it in a podcast. Maybe you saw it during a presentation at a conference that you paid too much to attend. Either way, you heard that social media could bolster your sales strategy.
So you did it — you jumped into this thing called social media. And nothing happened. Sales remained flat. How come? Because relationships come before sales
Well, building relationships takes time because building trust takes time. If you develop some (online) way to for your existing customers to improve their brand experience, invite them to take advantage of it, and take the time to build relationships with them, then your sales will probably increase â€“ in a year or so.
First, sales will increase because your existing customers will become more loyal. Then, sales will increase some more because those loyal customers will refer their friends and family.
The point is that social media is more of a marketing tool than a sales tool. It can support your sales strategy, just like customer service can, but itâ€™s not really meant to be part of it.
2. Youâ€™re Not Where Your Customers Are
Itâ€™s easy to get swept up in the hype. Thatâ€™s why when you heard about how Twitter, blogging, or Facebook helped a major brand, you wanted to do it too. And itâ€™s great that youâ€™re trying to engage consumers.
But are you engaging your customers? Are you hanging out in the right crowd?
Just like any marketing initiative, social media takes time, preparation, and research. Before you decide how to use social media as part of your marketing strategy, you have to figure out where your customers hang out online. Itâ€™d be great if your blog gets 1,000 visits a day or your podcast has 20,000 subscribers, but what if your customers donâ€™t read blogs or listen to podcasts?
Twitter is one of the best examples. Twitter is a media darling. Twitter got real big, real fast. But baby-boomers donâ€™t really use Twitter, so if youâ€™re targeting baby-boomers, Twitter isnâ€™t the place to do it.
Remember, â€œsocial mediaâ€ is just a buzzword that encompasses all kinds of digital media â€“ including blogs, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, forums, etc. So before investing in social media, do your market research and make sure youâ€™re investing in the right social medium.
3. You Thought if You Built It, They Would Come
I know that many a podcaster, blogger, or conference speaker make social media seem like a Field of Dreams. But that doesnâ€™t mean if you build it, theyâ€™ll come.
Even if youâ€™re hanging out in the right places and with the right crowd online, you still have to put in some effort. You have to make some noise. You have to go out of your way to make friends. You have to show your friends and your community what you can offer them.
Once youâ€™ve got your social presence set up, go out there and talk to people. Get to know them, and start building relationships.
4. You Tried Re-Inventing the Wheel
Seeing how your customers use social media can be inspiring. You see them connect and interact, and you want to be part of that, but that doesnâ€™t mean re-inventing the wheel and setting up your own walled garden.
Your customers are already part of an online community that fills their needs. There, they have all the features and functions they need to interact and maintain their relationships. But most importantly, their personal network is already there.
Just like youâ€™re not going to get a community to uproot and leave Facebook for Twitter, youâ€™re not going to get them to migrate to a branded walled garden. So you can spare yourself the cost of developing a branded social network.
But depending on where your customers hang out, you might be able to create a branded neighborhood within that community. Many social networks offer APIs that you can build on so that your brand can better engage their users.
Take Facebook Connect, for example. You can use Facebook Connect to let user login to your site with their pre-existing Facebook credentials, and then share immediately share your content with the rest of their network.
So instead of re-inventing the wheel, think about how your brand can improve on it slightly â€“ maybe by offering better tires, suspension, or rims.
5. You Donâ€™t Have Any Content
Thereâ€™s a reason they say “Content is King”. Because online, content makes the worldwide web goes round.
Whether itâ€™s a viral video, a support forum thread, or the UGC wall posts between community members, content brokers all of our relationships online. Itâ€™s through content production that we meet, get to know one another, and build relationships.
So if regular content production isnâ€™t part of your social media strategy, itâ€™s going to fail. If your brand is going to participate in a community and build relationships with consumers, it has to produce content thatâ€™s useful to community members and customers.
This can be anything. It can be tutorial blog posts, coupons feeds, funny pictures, etc. But it has to be relevant to your customersâ€™ demographic and it has to be regular.
Because once you stop producing content, you stop participating, and relationships whither.
About CT Moore
A former Staff Editor here at Revenews.com, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over 8 years experience leveraging search and social media to help brands meet their business goals online. By day, he heads up Search and Social at Publikit, a boutique web dev agency in Montreal, and runs Socialed, a digital consultancy that provides strategy to both SMBs and enterprise level companies in the tech, entertainment and travel industries. CT has worked with both start-ups and multinational brands alike, including Acquisio, Microsoft Canada, and Luxury Retreats. CT is also an accomplished blogger, podcaster, and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can effectively leverage different online channels.