Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why Social Media Doesn’t Work

We’ve all heard about Social Media...Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube, Pinterest, Google+, and more.  Many marketers and business professionals have all but forgotten other forms of marketing.  The questions that loom over Social Media are, “Is it worth the effort?” and “Does it really work?” 

The answer is yes it’s worth the effort, but in reality it doesn’t work for everyone.  Don’t get me wrong, Social Media is terrific.  As someone who works with it every day and helps clients’ achieve success with it, I’m a true believer.  Each day it becomes more intertwined in the fabric of marketing, but the real problem is most businesses don’t implement it effectively.  Consequently, it doesn’t work.

Here are the primary mistakes businesses are making with Social Media:

No Plan:  Marketing always works best when a plan is formed based on your target market, costs, and proper marketing/advertising vehicles.  Social Media, and the correct way to use it, is more complicated than you might think.  At the very least, think through what you want to accomplish, why you are using social media, who you are targeting and how it fits in with your other marketing endeavors.  Without this you are apt to be wasting time and money.

Believing it’s easy: Misjudging the difficulty of properly implementing a sound Social Media strategy is a mistake also.  Do you have someone knowledgeable in Social Media handling your accounts?  If not, rethink whether this is really a priority for your business.

Setting up a page and thinking “They will come”: Many people believe the hard part with Social Media is the initial set up of their page, profile or account.  It’s just the beginning.  Involvement and building relationships is crucial to making it work and that takes time and effort.  Followers won’t come if they never hear from you. 

Involvement with the wrong site(s)There are many social sites that can benefit your business.  Determining which sites are best for you to expend your energy and hard earned dollars on is essential to Social Media success.  Not every business should be on Facebook, no matter how many millions of people are on it (and there are a whopping 901 million now).  Knowing your target market and understanding all the social sites is vital to what your return on investment will be from Social Media.  Spending all your efforts on the wrong site or sites will gain nothing.  Eventually you will say it doesn’t work and stop using it.

Selling: Social Media is all about selling your product or service, right?  Not at all.  Social Media is about making connections and creating lasting relationships.  Selling is part of what you can achieve from Social Media, but it comes from developing and nurturing these relationships over time.

Imagine if you made a dinner date with someone and then asked them to marry you on that first date.  Chances are your date would say “Whoa, you’re moving too fast.  We need to get to know each other first.”  Social Media is similar to this situation, without the dinner.  Take your time getting to know those that follow you and allow them to get to know you.

Posting updates too often or not enough: If it sounds difficult to figure out how often you should be involved on your social sites each day, you’re right.  There’s a fine line between being active in Social Media and being annoying.  You have to determine what that ‘just right’ amount is for you and your followers. 

Several years ago when I first got involved with Twitter, I followed a local company in the Heating and Air Conditioning industry.  They tweeted around 50 times a day to call them for air conditioning service.  It got so annoying I stopped following their tweets.  Did I ever call them for this service?  No. 

Lacking Patience: Social Media isn’t for the ‘in-a-hurry’ crowd.  It takes time to develop relationships and reap the vast rewards Social Media can provide your business.  Be patient and nurturing. 

Thinking Social Media is free: No, you don’t have to pay for basic accounts on most social sites, but you do have to pay someone (whether it’s internal or external) to do the work.  Include this in your plan.

Connecting, involvement, relationships and patience are the keys to Social Media success.  With these four elements in your Social Media strategy, you will be one of the businesses reaping the benefits of Social Media and you’ll know it really does work.

This article first appeared in the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber June 2012 Flight Line Magazine. 


  1. "Not every business should be on Facebook, no matter how many millions of people are on it"

    Wow, it's so refreshing to see someone else shares this opinion! Seems like everyone else thinks that every business should be on Facebook no matter what. Meanwhile tons of businesses continue dumping tons of money into managing a Facebook page that brings them no ROI at all... it's baffling. And sad, really.

    Fred | O'Malley Hansen Communications

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