How to Fail @ Social Media

Over the last few weeks, especially since the launch of our full new website, we’ve been talking and thinking a lot around here about social media. Not just about our own strategy and how we integrate social media into our client work, but about its overall purpose and utility for businesses.

Every business right now seems to have a social media presence of some sort. And for a lot of these companies, it’s a vital, critical part of their marketing, branding and identity work. They not only wouldn’t be successful without their social media efforts, they wouldn’t be the brands they are today if they didn’t implement effective social media strategies.

But not every business needs social media. And although it isn’t appropriate for every brand, that doesn’t stop seemingly every business from thinking they need to do it, regardless of how appropriate it is. As branding and marketing professionals on whom clients rely for solid strategy and implementation, it’s our job to figure out who needs it and who doesn’t and why, and to push back against the tide of “all-social-media-all-the-time,” that we’ve seen over the last couple of years.

Social Media Worst Practices

When it’s totally appropriate for your business to get into social media, there are still ways to screw it up. Here are a few of them:

1. See it as an end and not as a means
You don’t need to do social media just because it’s hot right now. It’s another (very useful) knife in your drawer, not a marketing panacea.

2. Treat it as advertising or marketing instead of a conversation
Lots of companies use Twitter and Facebook to push advertising or coupons or whatever, but don’t take advantage of social media’s potential for two-way communication. It’s a pretty much unrivalled channel through which you can listen to your clients. So listen, learn, and share.

3. Ignore or contradict your core brand values
Every communication your business puts forth must reinforce your brand promise, your core values. Social media is no different in this regard than any other messaging your company is putting out there.

4. Don’t invest the necessary time to keep your content fresh and interesting
Stale tweets and old facebook status posts are boring and after a while, people will stop reading and caring what you have to say.

5. Ignore your business’ online community.
This is a great way to seem like you’re just using social media as an advertising channel rather than as a way to get to know and care about your customers. Social media is a great tool for building online communities, but you have to be an active participant and mediator to exploit this benefit. Like your customers’ Facebook posts, retweet their tweets, or + their googleplus updates.

6. Set unrealistic goals and expect immediate success
Figure out what you want to do with social media and implement a strategy based on that, rather than on this idea that you have to be in this space just for the sake of being there, or that you’ll immediately see a jump in sales or revenue thanks to social media.

7. Don’t integrate it into your marketing and branding strategy
Besides supporting your identity and brand values, you should be using social media to shore up your other marketing and sales tactics, and campaigns.

8. Execute your strategy randomly
A consultant can help you come up with a strategy, but you have to  implementit. Social media takes time and consistent effort to do well and to produce results. And often those results are not immediately tangible. You have to be willing to jump into the space and keep at it over the long haul.

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