Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 Signs You're Using Social Media Wrong

This is a reposting of my original guest blog written for GreenBuzzAgency.com.

Social Media Marketing FailHave you ever walked into the middle of a conversation and suddenly had the awkward feeling that everyone was talking about you?

Motrin has. About a year ago, they became a trending topic on Twitter when Moms, one of their key customer groups, were talking about the insensitivity the company displayed in arecent ad campaign. The consumers summed up Motrin and its use of social media this way: “They don’t get it.”

One year later, we see Motrin exerting an active presence on Twitter and other social media sites and doggedly determined to become “Part of the Conversation” rather than the “Topic of It.”

But just “Being” on social media does not necessarily mean you are “Doing it Right.”

As someone who helps companies wade into the social media waters, but do it in a way that is authentic and in alignment with their brand, I have picked up on a few red flags that I would like to pass along. I call it:

The 5 Ways to Know if You’re Using Social Media Wrong

1) Your Twitter page reads like the CNN ticker. Social media is NOT the place to post your newsfeed! That has become a staple of many homepages, where it is ideal for SEO bots that are scouring the web for updates and new content. But social media is about interaction and one-to-one contact. Nothing says “impersonal faceless corporate entity” like following your favorite brand on Twitter and receiving the Tweet “Thanks for following us. For more information, visit our website.”

2) Your company Facebook friends are also your kids’ Facebook friends. Like any marketing initiative, social media campaigns should be targeting Quality over Quantity. With more than 370 million users, chances are that you have actual customers on Facebook. A simple step many companies overlook is the proactive promotion of their social media sites to gain targeted customers and build relationships with them. Do not let it become a web-based popularity contest where every fan, follower and contact is weighted equally.

3) Your Social Media Marketing is something you’ve assigned to the Interns.Successful marketing campaigns always stem from being integrated across the company. That requires buy-in from the top down! I get very nervous when an executive tells me the company is already on “MyFace” or “SpaceBook.” Too many execs think that new technology is beneath them and refuse to take the initiative in learning what it can do for their business.

4) It Doesn’t Seem Like Your Social Media Profile is “Doing Anything.” Although social media functions in areas like SEO and PR, it is, at heart, a marketing device. And somewhere along the lines, people have forgotten that marketing’s job is to create sales. Which means that social media should be attached to business objectives! That actually generate revenue! A strong advantage of social media over traditional marketing vehicles is its built-in trackability. There are great tools out there to set goals and determine ROI on any social media marketing efforts.

5) You tried social media and it didn’t work for you. I have heard more than my share of marketers explaining, “It detracted from our messaging” or “It’s not a good fit for us.” 9 out of 9 times, what they’re really saying is they didn’t like it or understand it, they didn’t integrate it into an overall marketing campaign and they got tired or bored of it after a few half-hearted attempts. My favorite is when I later find out that the boss’ 16-year-old niece put them on Facebook. I’ll be the first to admit that for many companies, a Facebook Fanpage makes zero sense–so don’t waste your time. But you are missing valuable customer insight if you are not monitoring these powerful online conversations. Effective use of social media, like traditional media campaigns, requires an intelligent strategy tied to real world objectives, executed consistently over a long period of time.

If these all made perfect sense to you, congratulations, you are among those who “Get it” in the new media environment. If any of these sound like you or your company, I would encourage you to re-evaluate what you are doing or who you’ve put in charge of it. Like so much in life, there is more to success than just “being there.”

Shawn Butler is a campaign strategist at Relevant Social Media based in Atlanta. You can contact him at Shawn@RelevantSocialMedia.com.

Social Media Marketing Demotivational PosterAlso: Interesting related reading from Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group
A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media

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