5 reasons social media strategies fail

Image credit: Kevin Phillips/Pixabay


Social media strategies have become an important component of the modern business marketing plan.

As consumers heavily gravitate towards online networks and spend increased amounts of time in these web spaces, marketing specialists have found they need to adapt to a changing world.
They also must find ways to evolve in order to remain competitive in any given market. Social media is a channel that marketers have identified as prime areas to find targeted audiences.
Creating a social media strategy is much more than simply making posts or status updates on social networks. It is about two-way interaction rather than the one-way communication road traditional advertising has taken. The two-way avenue is the first, and perhaps the foremost, thing marketers must keep in mind. Shifting gears on earlier marketing philosophies is essential for a social media strategy to succeed.
When developing a social media strategy, it is important to consider several angles and, in many instances, think outside the proverbial box. Those creating the strategy need to understand how potential pitfalls can possibly doom a social media strategy to fail. This way they can be mitigated before it falls into a downward spiral.

5 reasons social media strategies fail

1. Lack of a formal policy

It is not wise to enter social media marketing without having established some sort of strategic plan. A written formal policy makes it clear to everyone in the organization what expectations there are and how any social media interaction should take place. It is essential for each team member to understand the responsibilities associated with engaging in social media, which includes both identifying customer needs and managing multiple accounts.

Without a formal policy, a social media plan has an increased chance of failure, but with clear guidelines there is uniform understanding across the organization; chances of a gaffe occurring are minimized. If social media is integrated and becomes a free-for-all, serious brand damage can occur. Setting formalities for using social media generally mitigates the risk of any errors on judgment occurring, protects the company's reputation and brand, and also protects the rights and privacy of employees.

2. Strict focus on promotion

No one wants to listen to a non-stop commercial. Some businesses create Twitter accounts, Facebook pages or blogs and simply pump out reasons to buy or advertise what is for sale. This goes back to the philosophy of one-way communication.

While advertising still has its place within the social web, social media is not about the advertising component, but its strength lies with developing relationships and strong connections. Business strategies that are of the philosophy sending out promotional Tweets, creating Facebook status updates and fan pages that are commercially-oriented, or writing blog posts that do not offer the reader helpful information and/or ignore responses to posts are missing the point of engaging in social media efforts. The "soft sell" has become increasingly more popular in recent years. Useful and engaging content is where it's at.

3. Lack of research

Prior to jumping into social media interaction, companies have to first listen to what people are saying and then identify whether or not their wares or services are relevant to particular web communities. Michael Bitton, Adweek, stated in 2010, "I see this all the time: Brands create Twitter accounts or Facebook fan pages just because everyone else has them. While these tactics may not be a bad thing, they could prove worthless if there's no significant research." 
This still stands true today in 2015. Back then Bitton recommended companies conduct studies on demographics, technographics and social graphics and this too still applies.

4. Base the strategy on specific tools

Utilizing social media tools are great, however that in itself is not the strategy. Elasticity is crucial. Companies that fail to plan for elasticity are bound to be doomed with their social media strategies in the long run. Specific networks, such as Twitter or Facebook, may be considered a primary communication tool, however these are not where the strategy should be focused. Social media strategies are an area where a company wants to take a more holistic approach and look at the bigger picture.

Technology progresses swiftly, social networking platforms evolve, and the Internet doesn't stand still. Social media falls within the spectrum of something that needs to be flexible and adaptable to accept change. Internet trends come and go, however the brand, if done well, can last indefinitely as long as the product or service fulfills a consumer need. This way, when the next trend emerges, the company is ready to move forward and shift gears when needed.

5. Lack of engagement

Fundamentally, social media marketing is about developing relationships and having interaction with web audiences who may be interested in what a company is selling. It is vital for a company to talk to people, encourage feedback, answer questions and, above all, connect. Too little emphasis on relationships is a major reason why a social media marketing plan will fail. It is vital to get out of the mindset of one-way communication and be open to listening and actively responding to consumers. Businesses that allow consumers see the human side of the business through active participation and interaction will be far more successful in social media.
Image credit: Foundry/Pixabay

Nielsen reported in March 2009 that two-thirds of the world's population visited social networking sites; this data was amassed in 2007 - 2008. By 2015 social networking has significantly grown and, over the last few years, the dynamics have continued to change with the continued collision of the virtual and "offline" worlds.  
As of 2015 2.1. billion people have social media accounts and for Facebook alone, 47 percent of Internet users are on the network. Mobile has clearly become a high priority - going forward businesses need to invest in ways to ensure their web presence is mobile-friendly. This may evolve as new gadgets and wearable devices emerge.

As more and more consumers spend time online it makes sense marketers want to establish a social media presence where their company will be more visible. However, it is important to play it smart. Companies that avoid the pitfalls and put a clear focus on social media marketing are more likely to find success through better brand awareness, content marketing, native advertising and brand journalism. All of which can help increase web visibility and establish a stronger connection with consumers (or B2Bs).


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