Why People Fail in Social Media

I have seen time and time again in my work that people/organizations/campaigns who fail do so for a number of key reasons. I describe these below.

First, they are paralyzed by what they don’t know. They want to have everything figured out before they jump in instead of looking at social media as a platform for test and learn opportunities and taking advantage of them.

Second, they lack top level management buy-in and as a result, the necessary resources to successfully implement a social media plan. This one is critical, so listen up.  I NEVER try and convince social media. And I NEVER try and slip social media into a plan without having full buy-in from all parties involved. The reason for this is that no matter how well you plan your social media, something inevitably will go wrong or something unexpected will happen; and when it does, if there has been no consensus built, then the risk of negative backlash will be much greater. If you build consensus then others around you will feel committed to make it work and will support a strong response strategy.

Third, they try and apply traditional marketing practices to a non-traditional environment. Social media is different than all other mediums in how it works. The access to data, the iterative algorithm development, the need to stay fresh and relevant all make this medium less than static and require constant attention, education, and maintenance. Therefore, applying old methods of communication will just not cut it.

Finally, they avoid active participation. Social media is a commitment and it requires active participation – both from the regular management of social handles to the active review of data to iterative campaign adjustments based on those data. It also should mean regular reporting and status updates to superiors, team members, clients, and other stakeholders. This helps with improving the campaign, staying abreast of metrics and garnering continued buy-in. Without these, a campaign will languish, data become defunct, and social media will fail to achieve its goals.

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