Marketers have done a poor job of making social media work because they have been too busy drinking the social media Kool-Aid. The hype factory forced them to chase every new, bright, shiny object; from FourSquare to Gowalla, Groupon to Scavngr, Facebook to Geni, according to Adam Kmiec, SVP, Interactive Marketing Innovation, MARC USA.
For every success story there are thousands of failed social initiatives. While there is no way to guarantee a hit, Kmiec says there are ways to assure failure.
With that in mind, here are his ten reasons why half of all social media initiatives fail:
1. A Self-Proclaimed “Guru” Simply Isn’t – The concept of social media marketing is roughly 2 years old. Most of the tools and platforms, like Facebook, weren’t even around in 2004. So how can anyone truly claim to know it all?
2. It’s Not Really Media – Regular business is becoming more social. If social initiatives are not tied into the fabric of a business, companies will never see the return they need.
3. Spending money is important – Great Initiatives + Weak Awareness = Weak Results. One of the biggest mistakes is to think that social initiatives don’t need traditional media support. Social does not equal viral nor does it equal free.
4. Employees Are A Catalyst – Any company’s biggest evangelists are employees. They need to be armed with information and access. Don’t revoke access to sites like YouTube and Facebook, encourage them. To be social with customers, employees must be social.
5. Just Copied Someone Else’s Plan – It’s a copycat world, but you shouldn’t ape what Apple does if you sell Teddy Bears door-to-door. Copying another organization’s model in theory sounds smart, but in practice can set a business back months, if not years.
6. Social is a Team Sport – Social belongs in more than just Communications, PR or Marketing. If you want to go fast, travel alone, but if you want to go far travel together. It’s not just a proverb; it’s a fact in the social business landscape.
7. No Experience is No Good – A plan from someone right out of school, because “they understand social” is a classic mistake. Just because a customer has been using a product doesn’t qualify them to be CFO. Why would you do the same thing with social?
8. Loads of Experience May Not be Better – Social business initiatives do fail simply because of the wrong people. Companies must look less at years and degrees and more at the core skill set. The ideal? A great balance of marketing and technology.
9. Social is a Research Tool First – The social space must be mined for insights. It is a rich data set; the largest that has ever existed. By leveraging social as a research tool companies can uncover opportunities they didn’t even realize existed.
10. Go Beyond the Big Players – Social is so much more than Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Depending on the audience, an upstart site/platform may be the best place to go. Think Facebookers are willing to publicly “Like” a genital wart medication?
“We field calls all the time from clients, both current and prospective, asking us how to leverage social to work hard for their business. It’s a great question,” said Kmiec, “As an innovator who loves being on the cutting edge, it’s often difficult to temper my enthusiasm and desire to be there.”