Aug 11 2009

So Your Social Media Sucks… Don’t Blame the Technology!


by Andrew DiFiore

It is easy to get caught up in the hype of Social Media and desperate times begets desperate actions. But don’t do Social Media if your reasoning includes:

  • It’s so cheap
  • Everybody else is doing it
  • I’m afraid of missing the boat
  • I heard one Tweet and all your dreams come true!
  • I have an account on Facebook and it feels like magic

Don’t kid yourself (or let anyone else kid you), Social Media takes time, strategy, and yes, money.

Now, I’m not talking about creating an account on Twitter or Plaxo (most social networks are free to join).  Social Media marketing is so much more than having a Facebook fan page or leaving a comment on Scobleizer. It is about participating in and contributing to the conversations. And there ain’t no room for introverts if you’re looking to affect change.

For marketers who want to use Social Media to advocate their brands, this means bringing something of value to the table; not just a sales pitch but rather something about your brand story worth telling, in a way that is unique and easy to retell. Most people in these communities don’t really mind that you are there with an ulterior motive as long as it is in line with what the conversation is about. Furthermore, most don’t mind telling you exactly what they think of your product or service.

All too often, companies assume they can “control” the message like in traditional media (e.g. newspapers, television, radio) but they can’t; nor should they try. The Social Web is a multi-channel, interactive medium with the power to spread ideas quickly, exponentially. You can track and direct the message but once it is out there, it is out there. If this concept scares you then stay away from Social Media.

In order for a Social Media marketing campaign to be successful you must have something good to sell and then have an engaging way of selling it. I’ll assume the first is a given. The second is where you must get creative. There is no substitute for great ideas regardless of the medium. At the end of the day this is really why clients hire us. Sure, we may be “masters of technology” but it is the power of our ideas that separate the good from the great!

Never Compromise the Effectiveness of a Campaign!

This is the #1 reason why Social Media campaigns fail.

No doubt, we have all been there. Months in the planning, doing the research, coordinating the creative and technical teams, building up your online social capital. The landing page has been optimized. The behavioral metrics are in place. And then the unthinkable happens: client gets cold feet. Thinks the campaign is too risky. Maybe a funny YouTube video would be better. Ugh!

This is the no-win situation. If the vision of the campaign cannot be realized then the best thing to do is not to do it. I know we may not have this luxury. Unfortunately, if the effectiveness of the campaign has been compromised then it will most certainly fail. And with its failure comes the inevitable assumption it failed because Social Media doesn’t work.

Alas, this may be a self-fulling prophecy for some. The Social Media road is littered with the corpses of failed campaigns (half-baked in the sun). But there are a few bright examples of companies who didn’t compromise, who marched forward with courage and conviction, and were richly rewarded.