Why Social Media Is Not Working For You: A Wake-up Call
Often businesses get overwhelmed by the hype around social media and jump right into it to avoid getting left behind. This tends to lead to a circumstance where a company expects to start seeing traction, but end up only burning rubber – simply because they haven’t thought things through properly.
They then tend look for issues with their quality of content or frequency of posting (which do contribute to uptake in some capacity) without really looking at the big picture of why progress hasn’t been made.
Below are some common reasons why social media may not be working for your organization (apart from the fact that you sound like a corporate robot and not a real person):
1. Your organization is not be ready.
BOOM! Yes, you heard that right. Your business may in fact not be ready to be social yet.
Transparency is key to success with social media. If openness is not an intrinsic part of your business (sometimes regulatory and/or legal pressures create these situations), then how do you create engagement or maintain dialogue with your market? You can’t… it becomes very difficult when you cannot share things or comment freely.
As well, if your organization doesn’t have a culture of sharing information – successes and problems with customers and partners – then social media will not work for you. Social Media is after all, about being social and communicating openly. Of course you have the right to protect and support your company’s proprietary information, but don’t confuse that kind of confidentiality with an ability to answer questions and build engagement opportunities at large.
2. The way information flows in the world has changed and your organization does not understand how it has changed.
Now everybody and their mother has an opinion about something. Do you sell CRM software? Well, before anybody considers even trying your software, they will do their own research – they will ask their friends in the business for a referral or opinion, check out blogs and forums on the subject, maybe even post a question on Facebook. The end consumer/ user is now doing a lot more research before they even begin to talk to you i.e. well before you identify them as a prospect.
If the consumer happens to hear good things, then he or she will engage with you. But if she or he hears not-so-great things, or worse, hears nothing at all, then you’re in trouble. Hearing nothing at all is worse because it basically signals that you are vanilla, and that you’re not even trying to be chocolate
The fact is, this is exactly what social media can solve for you – the problem of being vanilla.
Think of social media as your opportunity to show your personality. Show that you care about your customers and their opinions, and show your competence in a particular area or subject matter. Social media allows you to grow and remain perpetually engaged with your community; thereby taking them along with the changes you are experiencing.
3. Your organization does not have a sense of community.
Things like user conferences, team events, blog writing and participation will set you up to be successful with social media. If your organization is not participatory, doesn’t engage in these activities or doesn’t believe in content marketing, then building a presence in a social media is the absolute last thing you should tackle. Focus instead of creating engagement in the obvious places first, before jumping online and trying to cajole a bunch of people to like you.
As stated earlier, being social is all about sharing. If you have no relevant content to share – then what is the point of trying to be social? You need to contribute useful content to your community in a way that is designed for social media and meets its unique needs. For example, don’t go posting complex whitepapers and expect uptake on that. Instead, split the content into bite sized chunks and make them visual if you can help it. You need to provide for and welcome community interaction on all your online properties, not just via social networks.
4. Approval processes and bureaucracy slows you down.
Social Media is driven by timeliness of information. You see an opportunity and you take it. Having multiple approval processes will bottleneck your advancement in social media. So eliminate any hint of bureaucracy and trust your employees to make the right choices and say the right things.
Large conglomerates like Coca-Cola have policies in place to deal with difficult situations; however if you are a small to mid-sized organization, you likely don’t need a full-fledged policy per say. A few guidelines built for employees with input from employees is more than enough. You might also want to make sure your HR practices help hire and grow the right employees as well as empower them to become brand ambassadors of the company.
5. Social Media is not integrated into the business.
Social isn’t the responsibility of just one individual or one department. You don’t just hire a social media expert and let him or her “figure it out”. It needs integration across business lines.
As a starting point, get rid of disconnected customer interaction points. This means that Customer Service, Technical Support, Sales, Product Management and all other customer touch points within an organization should be in the loop with what’s going on over the fence. Next, you want to enable employees in each of these departments to communicate and engage with customers and users across multiple media. This means that you could have multiple people or groups managing your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other accounts. This also includes developing a process to listen and respond to online conversations, while maintaining a consistent brand experience.
6. You let Likes, Follows and Tweets become the de facto ROI measurement of your social media campaigns.
True ROI cannot be realized with one-hit wonders. You must pick what you measure carefully and it all depends on your business goals. For example, do you want to increase reach or increase market penetration? Do you want to provide superior customer service to existing customers or do you want to find and service prospects only? You need to decide this before you dive in.
If you are a new entrant in the social media space, my personal opinion is that aligning social media goals with branding and search marketing goals are the best way to determine ROI. Some of the types of metrics you might consider are: branding awareness, brand recall, customer retention, propensity to buy etc. Also, be sure to use some social media measurement software to see what’s working for you. And be sure to check out some examples from leading companies. Bazaarvoice is one site that provides some useful links. I also found some tips on Mashable on how successful brands are using Twitter.
If you have observed some obvious social miscalculations at your organizations, feel free to share what happened, as well as your thoughts on how best to fix it!