Three Business Factors that Prevent You from Social Media Success

FixCourse
Brad Smith Partner, Codeless Interactive, LLC

Posted on October 21st 2012

Your social media presence is a byproduct of your company.

So an average company will have an average social media presence.

Because most of your time is spent reacting. Responding, answering, replying and acknowledging.

In contrast, the best corporate social media examples are proactive. They set the tone and steer engagement they way they want.

But most can't do that. And it has nothing to do with your social media team.

Here are 3 business factors that are preventing you from social media success.

 

Social Media Cartoon Comic: Annual Budget Planning Image courtesy of seanrnicholson

 

Fix #1: Your Brand

Until a few years ago, you could build a brand with mass-media advertising.

The entire world watched the same, limited TV channels, listened to the same, limited radio stations and read the same, limited newspapers. There were no other options. And no way for customers to speak up.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), those days are over. Today, your product or service drives brand value.

For example, name a few of the top brands in the world today...

Somewhere near the top of everyone's list is Apple. They've had some great commercials over the years, their retail stores are fun, and their customer service is OK.

But what's the most important thing they have? Unbelievable products.

Steve Job's biography gives us more insight:

"His father refused to use poor wood for the back of cabinets, or to build a fence that wasn't constructed as well on the back side as it was the front. Jobs likened it to using a piece of plywood on the back of a beautiful chest of drawers. “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

Your brand value today comes from the quality of your product or service – not what you say on your Facebook page.

 

Fix #2 Your Profit Margins

Being the lowest price is no longer a sustainable, competitive advantage. There's only room for one Wal-Mart, and one Amazon.

Because sooner or later, your business model will be disrupted by technology and someone, somewhere will offer a cheaper, commoditized solution.

But that's not the worst part.

Discounting and aggressive pricing leads to a vicious, downward spiral. So companies have to cut corners elsewhere, just to turn a profit. They hire cheaper staff, cut back on operations, and stop reinvesting in the business to help it get better.

All of this leads to a poor customer experience.

So when someone is disgruntled (which happens more often), they don't call the slow, ineffective customer service line.

Instead, they trash your business on Yelp. Or they tell their friends on Facebook. And that ripple effect kills-off any good will you've created online.

 

Fix #3: Your Culture

You can't expect an "open" or "engaging" social media presence if your company isn't, either.

Draconian policies from the industrial area don't foster community. And having a mission statement is much different than believing in a mission.

Your social media presence is just the external view of your culture, and the people behind it. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo's, takes it a step further:

At the end of the first week of training, we make an offer to the entire class. We offer everyone $2000 to quit (in addition to paying them for the time they’ve already worked), and it’s a standing offer until the end of the fourth week of training. We want to make sure that employees are here for more than just a paycheck. We want employees that believe in our long term vision and want to be a part of our culture. As it turns out, on average, less than 1% of people end up taking the offer.

Because companies are like cities with thousands of moving parts. And there's a trickle down effect that can enhance, or detract from your social media strategy.

Does your company really believe in two-way dialogue? Do executives "buy-in" and show their support with more time, resources, and training? Can your organization be flexible and adapt in real-time to evolving customer demands?

And finally, is everyone in for the long haul?

Because true success doesn't happen next week or next month. It will take years to pay off. And if these areas aren't working properly, then you can't expect your marketing to succeed, either.

FixCourse

Brad Smith

Partner, Codeless Interactive, LLC

Brad Smith is a Partner at Codeless Interactive, LLC, which specializes in custom web development and customer acquisition services.

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Comments

Stimulating thoughts to consider, Brad, glad to have come across your post. I particularly like pointer #2 because personally, this is what I usually see as a "challenge" for most businesses I connect with - budget plan. It should be understood by key players that cutting budget "here" to make way for "this" doesn't necessarily work these days. Quality should be upheld no matter what and this takes time, effort, and good strategy for marketing and branding.

Thanks for your comment - and that's a great point! Seth Godin had a brilliant blog post about this:

"This works for organizations as well as individuals. The fish restaurant that as sales go down, borrows money to buy ever fresher fish instead of cutting corners that will lead nowhere good. Or the ad agency the follows a client loss not with layoffs, but with hiring of even better creative staff.

Slowing sales might lead to more investment with customer service, not less. Decreased grades might lead to more time spent on enthusiastic studying, not less."

 

Yes, before any brand decides to step into social media, they better fix their brand. Or else everybody is gonna treat the brand's page as a complaint box. Brands should not spend cheaply on Social Media. They should recognise the value of the media and understand its potential in brand-building and even for sales. So daily posts should be rich and engaging. Brands should also encourage their employees to be active in social media, to promote its pages and channels.

I think you've absolutely nailed it with the 3 reasons you write about here! 

Great read.

Awesome post! Your point on addressing corporate/business culture is absolutely one of the major factors many businesses overlook. Thanks for sharing your insight :)