It’s hip, slick and social to have a blog and a Facebook profile, but really, so what? If companies don’t think about their efforts in the larger marketing context as well as the unique needs of social communities, then their efforts will be useless.
The end result? We’re going to be treated to a deluge of bad social media from companies. And in six months we will be hearing cries about how it didn’t work. But the fault does not lie in the medium, rather it’s in the strategy and approach.
The 2008 social media boom is very reminiscent of the mid 90s when everyone needed a web site, but didn’t think about outcomes. Lots of bad sites and mistakes were made. Really, web 2.0 came along as web 1.0 was finally maturing.
Six Common Mistakes
Companies would be well advised to take the time to engage in social media intentionally, with their marketing goals and the long-haul in mind. Here are six common mistakes that should be avoided:
- Launching a social media effort without determining outcomes, calls to action, and measurement. Examine the motives behind launching that blog, filming a "viral YouTube video," or starting that Facebook Group. If companies don’t have a strategy behind their effort, they will lose time, money and opportunity.
- Talking about your company instead of their communities’ interests. It’s about them, not you. Talking about yourself is antisocial and very web 1.0. No one wants a daily updated brochure from company X. See seven principles of community engagement.
- Creating corporate social media without a program to get it socialized. There’s way too many corporate social media efforts now for your effort to just stand out because it’s been started. Where’s the so what? How will your company grab the attention of its stakeholders?
- Blogging because every one else is. Blogs are great, but they require a lot of maintenance and time. This may not be the best engagement strategy for your firm if the company.. Blogs are great for education, position as a market leader, call to action for larger social media initiatives, or for establishing brand reputation. A strong blogger relations and social network program can be more effective for earned media opportunities. Example: Nikon camera program executed by Tom Biro and co.
- Letting IT departments determine the best blog platform, usually the one that comes with their server packs. Bad idea. IT doesn’t understand social media marketing and the benefits of WordPress, or lesser platforms like TypePad.
- Thinking mass instead of micro. Facebook’s a great contact manager, but is it the right place? Are your actual stakeholders out there? Does your community use another, more granular social network as a back channel? Are you and/or your agency constantly monitoring your community’s evolution and consumption needs?
Unfortunately, in some competitive situations, it’s become apparent that agencies and consultants have greatly contributed to this mess. Agencies will tell you they know what they are doing, and learn on your dollar. The price: Lost opportunity, time and financial resources.
Companies need to take the time to find socially engaged companies. Don’t hire people that without a track record. Make sure the actual team performing the work have successfully blogged (please, a bare minimum 20 authority on Technorati), are enjoying social network engagement effort, and have a track record of past successes. And if they don’t advise you on the above six matters, know they are incompetent and continue with your selection process.