4 Reasons Your Company is Failing at Social Media

Kevin Fawley
Kevin Fawley Digital Marketing Strategist, Haymakrr Media

Posted on October 6th 2011

Failing

 

 

The truth is, most business owners don’t know squat about social media. And that’s ok. The problem is they’re too stubborn and proud to admit it.

For every social media success story there are hundreds of businesses struggling to establish any type of online presence. Here are four reasons your company is failing at social media.

1. Not Buying In

 Social is the wild wild west and success means out-of-the-box thinking and a whole lot of throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. It will be extremely difficult to be successful when you’re being scrutinized every step of the way. It’s so important that social becomes a part of your companies culture, starting at the top. If your leadership hasn’t drank the social media kool-aid you might as well stop reading this post right now. Success is far from guaranteed and even further when you don’t have the full support of your organization.

2. Social Maturity

 Lets be clear on something. Reading "The Thank You Economy" does not make you a social media expert. Attending Digital East does not make you a social media guru. Like any other industry, there's a learning curve. The lack of education amongst business owners and executives is causing two major problems.
First is their inability to understand the complexities of implementing a social media strategic plan. This lack of understanding leads to the second mistake; tasking the wrong employee or  hiring the wrong firm.

3. Cookie Cutter Services

 Social Media is NOT a one size fits all solution. Yellowbook, Splash Media, and the like don’t understand this. The only social networks they will support your business on are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and a company blog. That’s it. No location based services. No niche social networks (ie activerain for real estate agents, forrst for graphic designers or sprouter for entrepreneurs ). No other options. Your company doesn’t need to be on the biggest networks. It needs to be on the networks where your customers are spending their time.

4. Different Platforms. Different messages

 Please stop blasting the same message across the web. I’m begging you. It gives me no reason to visit, follow, like, tumble, etc any of your other social media handles. Facebook is not Twitter. Take the time to educate yourself and your team on the different styles of communication used on each site. The example I give to my customers is this:
Facebook is similar to throwing a party. Invite people to your page and invoke conversation. Then allow those responding to run the show. Let them create the dialogue. Now you’re the platform they depend on for advice and conversation. You wouldn’t stand on top of your coffee table and scream at your friends. So stop doing it online. Be a gracious and giving host and your community will adore you for it.
Twitter is great for building one-on-one, more personal relationships. Find your customers on twitter and see what interests they have other than your services. Talk to them about similar hobbies you might share or sports teams you both support. You’re bridging the gap between professional and personal relationships. The bond and friendships that form will catapult your business to new heights.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments what struggles your business is having adopting and implementing its social media strategy.

 

Kevin Fawley

Kevin Fawley

Digital Marketing Strategist, Haymakrr Media

Digital Marketing & Social Media Strategist. Come hit me up on twitter where I tweet about social media, entrepreneurship, startups, tech, business, and leadership; @kevinfawley.

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Comments

stevenh
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 11:33AM

I've never worked in Social Media before, and my company basically told me "We have a facebook and twitter, you're in charge of our social media program." and gave me a very little help and direction beyone this. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about this. Thanks for posting!

Kevin Fawley
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 11:19AM

Hey Steven,

 

   That seems to be happening more and more across all different sorts of industries. Whats even more shocking is seeing these larger corporations not educating themselves and simply tasking the marketing team to tackle social as well. 

   If you're looking to learn more about social media you're on the right track. Social Media Today is chalk full of great info. If you want to talk more come find me on twitter. I'd be more than happy to help any way possible.

 

Thanks.

 

Kev 

 

 

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 12:05PM

It's all about knowing your audience, their interests, and what they will respond to. It's about treating them like people, like friends, and building relationships with them. THAT is the point of social media. TO CONNECT on a HUMAN level. Corporations and big businesses have the most to gain from social media marketing and more often than not they are the ones who are doing it wrong. It requires excellent communication skills and an honest desire to connect with your followers, friends, +1's, etc. If you can't be honest in your efforts to communicate then social media can do you more harm than good. 

Kevin Fawley
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 11:20AM

Hey Joshua,

 

   I couldn't agree more with you. You've provided some great insights above. I love 'To connect on a human level.' That's so so important it can't be said enough. Thanks for the comment.

 

Kev

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 12:16PM

Excellent article, although I take issue with #3. Largely because most customers ARE on the largest social media sites. I see the lesser knows as more of an information sharing and networking arena as opposed to a place to find customers. If you are markeitng to realtors, graphic designers or entrepreneurs the sites mentioned are perfect if not, stick with the big boys because that IS where your customers are.

 

Kevin Fawley
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 11:25AM

Hey Alison,

 

   I agree and disagree with you. You're right that the majority of companies SHOULD be using the major networks, particulary Facebook. The only issue I have with you is simply saying 'that is where your customers are,' because I dont think this is as true as you think. There are thousands of niche social networks and its important that you spend enough time looking for your customers and make sure they are utitlzing both the niche and major networks. 

  Thanks for your thoughts!

 

Kev

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 3:06PM

Great article, man. #4 is a big pet peeve of mine. Also, two other reasons companies are failing are the failure to plan in the first place and approaching a new program with without goals/targets and without an understanding of what is important to measure.

Kevin Fawley
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 11:28AM

Thanks for the comment bro. You make two EXCELLENT points above. Failing to plan and not setting goals/targets and specific KPI's are killing businesses social media efforts. 

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 5:50PM

1. Not Buying In. No buyin? Your life will be paved with the proverbial! The larger your organisation the more important buy-in becomes. Social Media readiness & preparation is a process that starts long before online mucking in (or trial and error). Can you imagine the CEO halting Social Media work because of negative sentiment that the company had not prepared for? Or the IT team restricting firewalls so tight you can't do much/any Social Media? Conversely can you imagine who empowering a company could be if it incorporated Social Media principles of transparency, inclusiveness and healthy multi-directional communication? internally and externally? 2. Social Maturity. You'll find many a tactical person out there but that is not what you want and need. There is a huge difference between knowing how to use Facebook for personal comment, using Social Media to tactically communicate important corporate messages and define a Social Media Plan and Strategy. Why oh why have businesses keep hiring people who know nothing about business strategy to handle their Social Media. Or have no track record? Or have never made money online? Or have never made money from Social Media? Then they even globally publish such tactical folks who are talking about basics and call them gurus! In the old days you had to spend 10 years in communications before you'd be allowed to even be contracted to do what these folk do! It seems that as this animal called Social Media is new all previous quality hiring practices have been thrown out the window in favour of hiring the silver tongued. Do yourselves a favour and clients - make money through Social Media in your own non Social Media business first. Oh and forget a 'Learn Social Media Marketing Mastery in 7 days...' angle. Such an angle is hype filled with false promise creating & feeding misplaced market expectations. Social Media mastery takes time. Clients are then frustrated by the media hype that gives them the impression it is a quick fix, quick set up, quick result with little or no effort. Let’s do all to no longer perpetuate myths. 3. Cookie Cutter Services. We need to highly target. Just because there are huge numbers on a Social Media, it is not necessarily correct to use them. We are in a quality game not a numbers game. A business partner of mine developed a rather unique piece of music hardware technology with interactive wow factor. Did he go to the 4 biggies? No, the most effective for his market was where his market was - in the DJ Forums that are highly active, hungry for the next big thing and have existed for 10+ years. The first clients were several musically A-listers whose names you all know. The next most effective part of the media mix was video. Why would he even bother to use Facebook primarily? It was hundreds of times faster to achieve ROI by targeting through the most active media. Another case in point - a local business owner only has 30 minutes a week for online activity. She has no database and wants to get her message out. It surprises her that she might need more than one website and more than one other piece of content. She can only afford a few hundred $ a month. She needs a well time leveraged media choice to get her going. She has great personality. Best choice to start with - YouTube as it is well searched and it can be her 24/7 sales person while we change her knowledge base and mindset as well as online strategy & content. Facebook just won't fit yet. Though she enjoys face to face she has too little time [yet] for the online people aspects. So Alison, have a think about a diversity of situations where businesses have to cut through and be heard. Busy crowded places may work, but then again they may not depending on the market, media, psychographics etc 4. Different platforms different messages. Semi automation is a hybrid some have chosen so that the platform message mixes are controlled better. The larger an organisation is the more able to do this. Some smaller companies would love time luxuries to spend on Twitter and can only manage keyworded prospect searches.

Posted on October 7th 2011 at 4:59AM

Great article Kevin. Having developed & implemented social media strategies both client and agency side I can say from experience that some of your comments are spot on.

Getting buy-in from the "top" is one that particularly resonates with me. I was responsible for social media back in 2005 at a global car hire brand and getting buy-in from senior management was instrumental in giving us the freedom to develop and grow and innovate in social media. The result was the development of a social media-driven customer service channel that doubled conversion rate of customers who interacted with it, an award for innovation at the UK National Customer Service Awards and lots of happy customers. Sadly 2 years later a new Managing Director came in and rather than investing in growing the programme he challenged everything we were doing and we ended up spending the next 6 months building business cases, running tests, etc rather than innovating and increasing the value of the programme

Another major stumbling block for brands succeeding in social media is staffing up properly. There are two issues here:

1. Many companies feel instinctively that it is right to engage with social media but, particularly given the current economic climate, feel uncomfortable committing resource to it without knowing what value it will generate for the business. The result is staff are asked engage IN ADDITION to their day job and therefore the approach is fairly light touch without any real scale. The problem is that without scale and commitment it will be difficult to realise value of any significance out of the programme.

2. Because there is a lack understanding about social media at a senior management, social media tends to be driven from the "bottom up" and normally by a person/group of people with a lot of passion and vision. Unfortunately the success of social media cannot rely on these people alone. What happens when they leave? Will the person stepping in have the same passion? It is important to formalise the roles, responsibilities, processes and have a clear idea about the type of person that is required to succeed the "old guard" to ensure continuity and sustainability of company's approach to social media. I've seen many instances when someone leaves and the next person either doesn't have the passion or has to start from scratch because there was no knowledge transfer.

I am also in massive agreement point 3. It's a case of strategy before tactics! Does everyone need a Facebook Page? If you have a community of customers who are passionate about your brand then yes, Facebook, provides a platform to build that community and create an asset for your company that can be leveraged to grow your business. But if you operate in a low interest category with low purchase frequency (see my car hire example above) and Facebook does not form part of the purchase funnel then you have to question whether your customers really want to engage with you in this space and whether this is the right space to commit resource and budget. 

Posted on October 7th 2011 at 9:59AM

I was a passive consumer of social media and then I got a job where it is my primary responsibility and the biggest challenge that I am having is engaging people.  Staff members don't even visit our social media sites and engage; should we expect our client too?

Posted on October 7th 2011 at 4:36PM

Kevin, Thank you very much for this great post. I recently try to start a new local business with Social Media consulting of small businesses and non-profit organizations in North-Germany and Social Media Today is so helpful. I'll keep on reading and learning :-). Keep up the excellent work...

Posted on October 9th 2011 at 9:32AM
Thank you for sharing your insights. Just wanted to point out that as an account executive for Yellowbook it is very clear that we understand the importance of our clients being active participants in social media. Although we do offer some 'cookie cutter' components on the major networks to get them started, we absolutely encourage them to join in and personalize it to their industry's specific needs. I like your party analogy and so I'll piggyback and say this: We'll organize the party, but it's really up to owner to mingle. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
TreyL3
Posted on November 26th 2012 at 9:19AM

The other key to social media is having stuff to post that others find value in and is worth sharing to their network. Just cause it is important to you may not matter to others. In the world of social media, the more viral it could be, the better.

In my world, if the information is 'invaluable' it means a great deal more. If it is only 'good' information' or 'same information' re-packaged, no one cares.

Trey Langford