The rise and fall of social media projects

Sorry – I guess we crashed with our social media campaign

Sorry - I guess we crashed with social mediaWhile social media in business is in full swing and many companies are gain a serious competitive advantage – more and more businesses are failing to get any success out of social media. Often times the whole social media engagement is put to bed after a few failed attempts. Quick and dirty social media is no longer working – there is no free lunch. We interviewed a few companies who failed over the last two years:


Social Media Failure – Real estate agency:

"We started to create a blog, then a fan page and opened a twitter account. It was pretty motivating for the team and some of our customers actually responded, followed us or liked our page. But now – 12 month later – in retrospect it didn't do anything for us. We are back to email marketing knowing that it doesn't generate great results either but if it brings one new deal per quarter we can at least survive."

Social Media Failure – Technology Solution Provider:

"We had a pretty savvy social media consultant come in – at least we thought so – who built a support forum and our blog and website. We invited our customers to join. Several came and it looked like a good start. But after 6 month we just lost momentum and after a year or so we shut down the whole thing. It just didn't work out. We are still trying to find out why some companies are pretty successful and some are not."

Social Media Failure – Franchise management organization:

"We are still in the middle of the engagement but feel that we will end it. It's a lot of work, takes a lot of time and resources and we just don't see the economic return. We want to help our franchise partners to embrace social media but at the present, we seem to just not be able to figure out how."

Social Media Failure – Furniture manufacturer:

"We basically started because some of our larger competitors is pretty engaged as far as our customers told us. We built a fan page, have an agency tweet for us every week and try our best to pick up speed. But after 6 month with no traction we had to replace the social media consultant. The new consultant promised us to help us get more leads but we had to decide to stop her engagement as well. Maybe we should sue those wannabe consultants. We know there is something – but we just can't figure out what and how."

Social Media Failure – Computer Manufacturer:

"We are known for successful social media campaigns but at the end we have yet to show real success. We created some campaigns where we sold systems through Twitter by getting a special promo code only ion Twitter. But we could have done that on any media and it didn't have anything to do with social. There was nothing that strengthened customer relationships or brought us social media related incremental revenue. The revenue created through Twitter was below 0.1% of our overall revenue and the campaign was faded out. We lately moved away from random tactical measures and became more strategic and that is where we begin to see real impact."

What's wrong – is social media dead?

Not really. There are equally many businesses who are very successful in leveraging social media to grow business, market share, brand reputation, reduce cost and optimize their organization. But there is a major difference: Quick and dirty, trial and error – versus – strategic approach.

If you have a few people do the "social media thing" but the rest of the organization is doing business as usual, what do you expect? Do you think a few people can do the magic and provide 5% increase in revenue to a $100 Million organization – or is able to reduce cost by 5% to make a significant impact on the bottom line? Or do you think that customers are so much more happy because of 3 people tweeting all day long so that the clients start to make references to their business friends and make suggestions in forums, groups and communities? No way.

The days of quick and dirty are over

Social media is now eight years old. LinkedIn started in 2003, Facebook in 2004 and we have 2011. The days where social media was so new and hot that almost anything got people's attention are over. 700 Million social media participants create a noise level that is so high that somebody who is firing up a fan page and hoping somebody will come has just no other way than being ignored unless that someone is creating a robust strategy to engage and create new relationships. Even the largest corporations have a hard time to get fans, followers or any other way of attention. It's time to come to the realization that social media is not about attention creation but about relationship building.

Businesses who don't have a fairly robust engagement strategy will fail – simply because their clients stopped listening long time ago.

How to get out of this dilemma?

1) Invest some time and do a thorough assessment of your brand, your customer presence, your partners and your competitors.

2) Create a social media strategy that clearly describes goals, benefits, resources and actions. Make sure you have a robust strategy framework and not just yet some other tactical thoughts.

3) Develop some initiatives together with your market that will help you and your clients to gain some mutual benefits from the whole strategy.

4) Train your entire team about the social engagement opportunities and ensure that all market facing departments are leveraging social media to improve their respective work

5) Monitor progress and success and continue to work on the relationship process that in turn will help you build ever smarter collaborative initiatives.

Ideally: Pull in a social media strategist who has a 360 degree view of all aspects of social media and is skilled to develop a purpose driven cross functional engagement strategy with you and your clients and partners. As long as you do everything yourself – you are limited to the skills you acquired so far.

Here is a list of skills and capabilities when you are "Selecting a social media strategist"




3 Replies to “The rise and fall of social media projects”

    None of these stories surprise me. I’ve worked with clients just like them. In fact, some of those clients could be saying the same thing about me as their social media “consultant.”
    So, why does that happen? Because quite frequently, businesses are just looking for a quick fix. They think they should be able to throw money at social media marketing and outsource it the way they hire an ad agency to create ads and buy media. They’re not willing to create or curate content. They definitely can’t be bothered with building friends and followers. They aren’t interested in engagement. They just want to sell their stuff. In short, their approach is narcissistic and self-serving, so it accomplishes nothing.
    Now that I’ve trained a lot of corporate teams (and taught a lot of middle-aged marketers in my social media marketing class at Portland State), I’ve come to realize that many people don’t grasp what seems obvious to many of us. And I’ve come to embrace Jay Baer’s philosophy: “If you don’t love social media, you suck at social media.”
    Now I try to get clients to find “natural” voices within their organizations instead of forcing the scientist to blog or the chef to tweet. It’s not always possible, but a few years down the road, people who are naturally good at it will rise to the top and people who were just looking for the quick fix will find other careers. They just don’t know that yet.

  2. Thanks a lot for the honest feedback Carri – I'm glad you too help to get real with Social Media. It's a huge opportunity and at the same time – like any opportunity in business must will miss it due to lack of serious engagement.

  3. Perhaps the root cause of any failure is not the medium or the tool, but the messaging.  We were all taught in school, graduate school, and on the job to push content to our respective communities.  We did this through mass media, email, direct mail, and countless other ways to "bullhorn" our message.  It is what we know and what we do…
    It just simply does not work with social media.  Conversations are what works.  With social media you cannot just simply post content and expect sales to pick up.  You must engage…everyday…all the time.  It requires a completely different mindset and passion. 
    We are all faced with a shrinking world and increased competition and we marketers must shift our focus away from pushing product (widget) centric content to our customers towards meaningful engaging in conversations.  This is how you build stickiness and loyalty…social media can be a great tool for this.
    Been a long time Axel…hope all is well!!!

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