The Dangers of Half-Assing Your Social Media Efforts

google social media campaignsAccording to social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, 99.5% of self-proclaimed social media experts are clowns. Although it could be argued that Gary is exaggerating, and even that he’s implicating himself quite heavily in that broad statement, the sentiment rings true. Far too many people assume themselves “social media experts” simply because they’ve set up a Facebook page with a bunch of links to their website.

In reality, taking this sort of half-hearted approach to a social media campaign can do more harm than good for your blog, site or company. If you want your social media efforts to create an actual return on your time and money investment, you’d better practice sound planning and consistent, targeted implementation. Otherwise, you could be in for a whole host of troubles.

Why Google Hates Bad Social Media Campaigns

No matter how big or small, your social media campaign probably has one singular goal: getting more attention and publicity for your website or business, chiefly through obtaining a higher search engine results ranking on Google. If you were to simply read the title of this post and assume that the takeaway with respect to social media campaigns is “more is better,” you’d be sorely mistaken.

In many ways, “half-assing” your social media efforts is more akin to doing too much, not too little. This is because Google absolutely hates it when a site engages in an excess of aggressive, blatant self-promotion. So much, in fact, that such a practice can lead directly to your site being blacklisted by Google. This equates to a severe downranking of your site, pushing it deep into search results and subsequently squashing your traffic numbers.

Why does Google punish overzealous promotion? It’s simple: Google is a company too, with its own investors, principles and thousands of employees. In order to improve their business, they want to create the best possible experience for their users, which means helping them find the most authoritative, relevant sites as quickly as possible. Your site screaming “look at me!” through a blanket, over-the-top social media campaign without enough valuable, relevant content to back it up comes off as forced and obvious, and Google sends you to the depths of their search results as punishment.

How Much is Too Much When it Comes to Social Media Efforts?

A number of factors play into this subjective question, ranging from your niche to your competition to the specific social media sites upon which you base your campaign. However, there are a few definite no-no’s that you should generally avoid with all of your social media efforts, regardless of whether you’re running a giant wireless internet service or a tiny blog about your love of pets:

  • Creating multiple profiles on one social media site and linking all of them to your site(s)
  • Having virtually no followers or friends but tons of links to your site(s)
  • Exclusively bookmarking pages that link to your site(s)
  • Using a software program to automate the posting of backlinks to multiple social media sites
  • Virtually anything else that could be classified as spam, or that doesn’t provide any real value to the user while promoting your own site(s)

Basically, you can differentiate between a “good” social media move and a “bad” one by asking yourself, “would I do this even if I didn’t own a website, but rather if I was just a fan of this website?” If you see your actions as clear self promotion, odds are good that Google will too.

Another Pitfall: A Big Bang Followed by a Lot of Fizzle

social media trapAnother danger of a poorly implemented social media campaign is the likelihood that a company will jump into social networking head-first, with much fanfare, only to fizzle out shortly after, lacking the resources, desire or motivation necessary to maintain that same initial pace.

You see this type of activity everywhere on social media sites: a company will launch a page on Facebook, talking about all of its awesome new features and inviting the community to leave feedback, interact and generally join in the festivities. A couple of months or even a few weeks later, the page is a barren wasteland with little to no new content updates and a few remaining users wondering why their questions and concerns are going unanswered.

Why does this happen? Probably because the site owner, or whoever she has running the site’s social media campaign, bit off more than she could chew when starting her social media efforts. Spreading yourself too thin and going for quantity instead of quality in a social media campaign is a perfect way to tank your site.

Social networking site users expect interaction, and lots of it. They understand that a large blog or site won’t have the resources to answer every single comment, but they won’t stick around for very long if they realize that they’re engaged in a totally one-directional conversation. For this reason, you need to devote as much time as is necessary to every branch of your social media campaign, following up on the promises you make and actually remaining active in the overall discussion long after you launch a social media page.

About the Author: Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. When he’s not busy testing sites, generating traffic or writing content, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching TV, playing games or going camping.

Image credit Andrew-Hyde

4 Responses

  1. Rusty says:

    Good Insight. But I have a question: How do you know if your blogging efforts with several themes and subjects will be targeted by Google “police”? I have several that I monitor but traffic is slow and my links are minimum. I don’t want to be targeted.

  2. Charlie says:

    I think by and large most companies forget that it is all about adding value to customers as a two way stream of communication rather than pure promotion.

    It’s often a hard struggle to take companies away from wanting 5/6 updates a day on each network with no idea “why”.

    Keep on putting the good message out sir. 🙂

  3. Neil Whitehead says:

    A lot of pressure exists to ‘be social’ but without a real understanding of what this is hoping to achieve or how to achieve it. As a freelance digital designer I cringe at some of the simply hurrendous setup fees associated with a facebook and twitter page.

    This is not only poor for the industry but heaps a lot of pressure on small businesses. Time is indeed stretched too thin and the social becomes a once a week practice during lunch break which generates no meaningful conversations. Consider whether a twiiter account is needed atall.

    my G+ page – come and say hi.

  4. Hi Mitch

    Thanks for your efforts to take a megaphone to this issue and sound out this priceless message.

    I’ve seen this many times over …

    ” … a barren wasteland with little to no new content updates and a few remaining users wondering why their questions and concerns are going unanswered”

    … not only in regards to Facebook fan pages, but also blogs, LinkedIn groups, etc. — a lot of HOOPLA and FANFARE right out the gate — and then the proverbial “ghost town” scenario a short time later.

    Wonderful topic!

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