5 Reasons Social Media Fails – And How to Avoid It

Social Media is one of the most important marketing tools a company can have in its arsenal. But if it’s not used properly, it can spell disaster for a company, ultimately resulting in lost reputation and revenues.

Here are the five biggest mistakes companies make when building up their social media, and the best ways to avoid making those same mistakes.

1. Not Having Clear Objectives/Setting Appropriate Targets

If there is no clear outline for what a successful social media campaign should look like, then it’s an automatic failure. In other words, if a company does not have clear objectives, then it cannot know how/when/why it is successful. The same is true with setting appropriate targets.

To avoid this pitfall, set clear objectives from the outset. Ask the following questions:

  • Is the company trying to make money, or save money with social media?
  • If the goal is making money, how will this be accomplished? Generating sales, increasing brand awareness, generating customer loyalty, etc?
  • If the goal is saving money, how will this be accomplished? Identifying customer issues with products and services, reducing overall marketing spending, reduction of customer service time, etc?

Once the objectives are defined, it is time to set appropriate targets for those goals. The targets can be

  • results-oriented (increasing website traffic by a certain percentage, increasing email newsletter subscribers by 2000, etc.),
  • capacity-oriented (conducting consumer surveys to determine areas of expansion, getting 300 more followers by a certain date, etc.),
  • or tactically-oriented (increase social media feedback by a certain percentage up to a certain date, increasing mentions on Twitter by a certain percentage by a certain date, etc).

These goals and targets, clearly defined, are the cornerstone to a successful social media campaign.

2. Not Having a Social Media Team

Just like not everyone is good at everything at all times, there are people out there who are just wired for social media. They “get it.” Assemble a dedicated team to handle social media — and they will make those goals and targets work. This team should include an analyst, a communicator (to customers and internal), a product expert, and a coordinator to help the other three. Choose people who have their own accounts and blog — they’re the digital fish who can swim along and around the oceans of social media. They will be the most comfortable, customer-oriented people who can handle positive and negative issues as they arise.

3. Skipping a Social Media Policy

With a good team, a company may not think it’s necessary to outline a social media policy. That would be an incorrect assumption. Having a solid social media policy can save a company’s reputation and cover other important issues. A good social media policy controls the following:

  • What is said by employees about the company
  • Instructs employees not to post confidential information about the company
  • Instructs employees not to post gripes about customers
  • Instructs employees how to handle negative comments about the company
  • Details the expected mores of employees

A company can avoid a public relations disaster by having a detailed social media policy. While the company should not attempt to dictate what a person does in his or her private time, they should remind their employees that social media is not private, and what they say and do online can affect the company in negative ways. Proactively protecting the company’s image is the best way to avoid disaster.

4. Not Having Social & Content Strategies

If a company has clear objectives and targets, they also will need to develop strategies that will get them there through social interaction and content. Without solid social interaction and content strategies, a company runs the risk of drying up the well. Avoid this by having clear campaigns and plan content well in advance.

5. Not Monitoring Progress

If a company doesn’t use social media metrics and tools, then how will it know if a certain social media goal has been met? There are four major metrics that need to be studied to ensure success for most goals and targets:

  • Economic Value
  • Conversion Rate
  • Applause Rate
  • Amplification Rate

Knowing these four items is vital to knowing what’s working and what isn’t on a social media site. Keep an eye on metrics, and watch success rates rise rapidly.

A successful social media campaign has clear goals with appropriate targets, a reliable social media team, a strong, clearly defined social media policy, solid social and content strategies, and monitors its progress to meet the previously defined goals.

Anyone can have a Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking account, but not everyone can have a successful social media site. Follow these five tips to ensure success in each endeavor.

Image Credit: MissConstrue_2008dfannin1960Cinotix,

2 Responses

  1. We have been trying out different planned social media posts, blog topics and tweets to better have a strategy and give viewers anticipated content to look forward to.

    Theme days: Monday Fun-Dayz, Tips & Tricks Tuesdays, Warning Wednesdays, Trends Thursdays, Financial Fridays.

    All having a theme to follow for us to structure around and give the audience something to follow.

  2. Jacob says:

    I think social media is the marketing category where many of the older branding firms are losing the edge. They’re just assuming the goal is to “drive communication” or somesuch thing and not doing a deeper analysis, as you suggest.

    However the process of setting up a Social Media Policy, as yous suggest in step 3, has gotten fairly complicated. Some companies are now requiring potential employees’ Facebook login as a prerequisite for employment. I understand that we want our employees to be the face of the brand, but can we really expect them to be driving our messaging in every aspect of their lives?

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