5 Reasons Why Social Media Failed You

Ah. Social Media… You were told it would fix everything. It would boost sales, improve customer relations, manage your online reputation, and reduce every bit of overhead you have. So what went wrong?

Well, to tell you the truth, anything could have gone wrong. Maybe everything went wrong.

You see, the fact about social media is that it’s just a buzzword. It encompasses all kinds of silly things (from Facebook to blogs). Depending on what your goals are some of those things make much sillier business sense than others.

Rules of Social Media Engagement

So, “social media” is just a buzzword. But it’s a buzzword because it encompasses any digital medium that allows top-down, bottom-up, and peer-to-peer communication. Social media is a more than a two-way medium. It’s a multi-medium.

And that is its potential as a marketing tool. Social Media doesn’t just let you have a conversation with your target market; it lets your customers have conversations with other (potential) customers. Independent, third-party endorsements are worth so much more than any tagline or jingle.

But because it’s a relationship driven multi-medium, you have to respect the rules of engagement:

  1. Relationships come before sales,
  2. You go to the community, the community doesn’t come to you,
  3. Communities are grown, not built,
  4. Don’t try to replace the community, and
  5. Content is king.

So if social media isn’t working for you, try asking yourself if you’re breaking any of these rules.

1. You Tried to Drive Sales

Maybe you read it on a blog. Maybe you heard it in a podcast. Maybe you saw it during a presentation at a conference that you paid too much to attend. Either way, you heard that social media could bolster your sales strategy.

So you did it — you jumped into this thing called social media. And nothing happened. Sales remained flat. How come? Because relationships come before sales

Well, building relationships takes time because building trust takes time. If you develop some (online) way to for your existing customers to improve their brand experience, invite them to take advantage of it, and take the time to build relationships with them, then your sales will probably increase – in a year or so.

First, sales will increase because your existing customers will become more loyal. Then, sales will increase some more because those loyal customers will refer their friends and family.

The point is that social media is more of a marketing tool than a sales tool. It can support your sales strategy, just like customer service can, but it’s not really meant to be part of it.

2. You’re Not Where Your Customers Are

It’s easy to get swept up in the hype. That’s why when you heard about how Twitter, blogging, or Facebook helped a major brand, you wanted to do it too. And it’s great that you’re trying to engage consumers.

But are you engaging your customers? Are you hanging out in the right crowd?

Just like any marketing initiative, social media takes time, preparation, and research. Before you decide how to use social media as part of your marketing strategy, you have to figure out where your customers hang out online. It’d be great if your blog gets 1,000 visits a day or your podcast has 20,000 subscribers, but what if your customers don’t read blogs or listen to podcasts?

Twitter is one of the best examples. Twitter is a media darling. Twitter got real big, real fast. But baby-boomers don’t really use Twitter, so if you’re targeting baby-boomers, Twitter isn’t the place to do it.

Remember, “social media” is just a buzzword that encompasses all kinds of digital media – including blogs, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, forums, etc. So before investing in social media, do your market research and make sure you’re investing in the right social medium.

3. You Thought if You Built It, They Would Come

I know that many a podcaster, blogger, or conference speaker make social media seem like a Field of Dreams. But that doesn’t mean if you build it, they’ll come.

Even if you’re hanging out in the right places and with the right crowd online, you still have to put in some effort. You have to make some noise. You have to go out of your way to make friends. You have to show your friends and your community what you can offer them.

Once you’ve got your social presence set up, go out there and talk to people. Get to know them, and start building relationships.

4. You Tried Re-Inventing the Wheel

Seeing how your customers use social media can be inspiring. You see them connect and interact, and you want to be part of that, but that doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel and setting up your own walled garden.

Your customers are already part of an online community that fills their needs. There, they have all the features and functions they need to interact and maintain their relationships. But most importantly, their personal network is already there.

Just like you’re not going to get a community to uproot and leave Facebook for Twitter, you’re not going to get them to migrate to a branded walled garden. So you can spare yourself the cost of developing a branded social network.

But depending on where your customers hang out, you might be able to create a branded neighborhood within that community. Many social networks offer APIs that you can build on so that your brand can better engage their users.

Take Facebook Connect, for example. You can use Facebook Connect to let user login to your site with their pre-existing Facebook credentials, and then share immediately share your content with the rest of their network.

So instead of re-inventing the wheel, think about how your brand can improve on it slightly – maybe by offering better tires, suspension, or rims.

5. You Don’t Have Any Content

There’s a reason they say “Content is King”. Because online, content makes the worldwide web goes round.
Whether it’s a viral video, a support forum thread, or the UGC wall posts between community members, content brokers all of our relationships online. It’s through content production that we meet, get to know one another, and build relationships.

So if regular content production isn’t part of your social media strategy, it’s going to fail. If your brand is going to participate in a community and build relationships with consumers, it has to produce content that’s useful to community members and customers.

This can be anything. It can be tutorial blog posts, coupons feeds, funny pictures, etc. But it has to be relevant to your customers’ demographic and it has to be regular.

Because once you stop producing content, you stop participating, and relationships whither.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at Revenews.com, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over a decade experience leveraging search, social media, and content marketing to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to start-ups, SMBs, enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed Inc.. CT is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

10 Responses to 5 Reasons Why Social Media Failed You

  1. @mckra1g says:

    All of these are counter to the Ego of every CEO who enters the space. As well-intentioned as they may be about sharing their Better Mousetrap with the world, in order to truly become effective, they must humble themselves before The Collective SM Consciousness.

    In order to provide value, they must set aside their own enthusiasm and find out where they fit first. If they follow these rules and keep their love for their product intact, chances are good they'll not only succeed in the space but also reinforce that which makes them singular.

    It takes time, focus, accuracy and consistency. Same as reaching any other goal.

    Thanks for the forum!

    Best, M.

  2. CT Moore says:

    @mckra1q, I completely agree with you. I don't know what is so seductive about social media that it makes so many people that's it's an easy magical fix to every marketing problem.

  3. This is an EXCELLENT post! I think you only need to add something about hiring a consultant or expert that doesn't know what they are doing.

    It is amazing how many people out there that are claiming to be experts that don't know what the heck they are doing.

    If you are thinking of hiring someone, look at what they do for themselves then look at a minimum of 5 of their other clients!!!

    Plus anyone who tells you that THIS IS THE WAY YOU DO IT…move on. There is NOT one way to do anything. EVERYONE is different and has different goals.

    Again, I really appreciate what you wrote!

  4. CT Moore says:

    @Jessica, I'm really glad you liked the post.

    And you're right: EVERYONE is different and has different goals. Too many lose sight of how to determine what channels are best suited for a company's goals. Rather, they seem to try and sell brands of redefining their goals to fit "the expert's" services.

  5. I work with a lot of authors who, after 2 months, are ready to give up on the whole social media thing. I think the number one reason smart people fail is because of impatience. Yes, you need great content, and to be where your customers are and engage people, etc etc. But it takes TIME. I've finally built up a social media following that I'm proud of and happy with. It took me a year to do it right. So you can buy followers and push push push, but it won't matter unless you take care of your social media presence and don't rush it!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Hey there. Great post! I think another reason social media marketing doesn't achieve the results expected or desired is because some advertisers rely solely on this method (probably because it is relatively inexpensive and easy) to do all their marketing. It's critical to take a well-rounded approach to online marketing, using traditional methods as well as innovative techniques like retargeting to be sure you are covering all your bases and not missing any important targets.

    Thanks again for the great post. Well written and informative.

  7. Dave says:

    Excellent post, I think overall people want the quick way to promote their business and drive traffic from social media to sales, but it just doesn't happen. Social media isn't like google adwords, you can't just throw money at it and expect it to work from day 1, it takes time and work to cultivate relationships.

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