When my agency started doing social media audits three years ago, we weren't exactly sure what to expect. What we soon discovered is that, big or small, B2B or B2C, many companies seem to be making the same mistakes, regardless of the department leading the charge. Here is a quick overview of the five most common mistakes we're seeing, along with notes on how to correct these self-defeating faux pas.
1. The Wrong Metrics
The most common metric mistake is emphasizing the number of fans you have over other markers, an approach that is symptomatic of a larger problem: viewing social as another mass medium through which branded content can be pushed. The reality is that it doesn't matter how large your social footprint is if fans aren't talking about your content on Facebook (PTAT) and sharing your videos, tweets and or LinkedIn posts. Enlightened brands use and monitor several more illuminating metrics, including brand sentiment, speed and quality of customer service resolution and engagement (comments, shares, CTRs, etc.).
2. Too Many Handles and/or Channels
Once the social media bug began to spread across companies, every line extension of a line extension wanted its own Facebook page or Twitter account and/or Pinterest board. IBM, for example, discovered through an audit that it had hundreds of branded handles on Twitter, and ultimately, they decided to reduce that list to only a few handfuls. Similarly, many brands are stretched too thin, jumping onto new platforms without the resources to keep their content fresh and their fans engaged. It is better to just do a few channels really well than to be everywhere inconsistently.
3. All You, All the Time
In social settings, brands, like people, get really boring if they only talk about themselves. Of course, you want to sell more products, but unless you have genuine news or product offers, brands should focus on being interesting and interested. Creating content that is interesting requires knowing your target really well-something that is increasingly easier with Facebook analytics platforms. Being interested starts by responding to comments and continues by asking questions.
4. Social is Isolated in One Department
Since marketers want to market, customer service wants to help and HR wants to recruit, isolating social in one department often limits the multi-functional role that it can play for an organization. This need not be the case. We recently participated in a client's brand integration workshop and concluded that social media touched the work of seven other agencies, including advertising, media buying, web development, SEO, PR and customer experience, which speaks to the necessity of sharing the social love across your company.
5. No Road Map
As the old saying goes, any road looks good if you don't know where you're going. And so it goes with social, which sprouted haphazardly within most companies. Establishing a clear road map for your company is imperative, and an effective road map should assign a purpose to each channel, set up an editorial calendar, create an escalation process for customer complaints and determine staffing needs. Lastly, the road map should define the paid or earned media that will ultimately be required to achieve any kind of scale.
Final note: If you aren't making mistakes in social, then chances are you aren't trying anything new. The trick is to turn these mistakes into learning opportunities that will ultimately put you one step ahead of your more cautious competitors. Please let me know if you have any great success stories that started from so-called mistakes--I'd love to make that the follow up story.