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Why 99.9% of Businesses Fail at Social Media 0

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It’s been an EXTREMELY long time since I’ve made a post here on my blog. Sorry folks. I’ve been inundated with life. All good stuff though :) I’ll try to post more frequently and on a regular basis. So anyways… On to the subject at hand.

Why do so many businesses fail at social media? Having managed social media campaigns for businesses of all levels (small, medium, and large) including major banks, eCommerce companies, oil and gas companies, magazine publishers, doctors, and movie studios I have some insight.

Time after time I’ve seen businesses approach social media the way they approach traditional media. They falsely believe that they can push out a one-directional message that customers and prospects will go gaga over and begin rapidly sharing with all of their friends on Facebook and Twitter. They completely disregard their audience and they attempt to repackage their traditional ads into social media pieces.

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having former clients who have asked me to “re-stylize” direct mail postcards into something “social media worthy.” Sorry peeps… This is not social media and consumers sniff right through this shameless promotion.

The tv industrial complex and all other forms of mass marketing are done for. They’re ineffective and consumers now more than ever before have the power to ignore your message thanks to DVR’s, the spam button, Federal do-not call list registries, pop-up blockers, ad blockers, their bare hands (used for ripping up direct mail) the “unlike” button on Facebook, and the “unfollow” button on Twitter.

Marketers and marketing executives are mentally suffering from the reality of the end of mass marketing. They find it difficult to deal with the fact that what used to work 25 years ago is no longer effective. Instead of adapting to new forms of marketing and media, they’re holding on to the old and they’re trying to bring bad habits of mass marketing into new forms of digital marketing and social media.

The tired and outdated forms of mass media and mass marketing is sadly and unfortunately still being taught to students in marketing classes across the country. And we wonder why our education system is failing.

Businesses across the country are on a hiring frenzy to find young 20-something’s to manage and build their social media campaigns. These individuals are told by executives, “make our company go viral.” This unfortunate individual is often met with hostility when trying to integrate social media into other aspects of the business’ marketing campaigns, and they often face rejection from other departments. Faced with an impossible task to win, the social media guy/gal who was given zero support is left unfairly facing the blame for a failed social media plan due to no fault of their own.

NEWS FLASH!!! Your business will not “go viral” tomorrow. It takes time to build a loyal social media following. Social media IS NOT free. Social media is not magic. Social media takes hard work, skill, a tremendous amount of creativity, and team work.

Social media is about telling a story, hence the new name for Facebook’s profile feed: “Timeline.” For individuals, people tell a story about their life through frequent media posts (text updates, pictures, links, and videos). Businesses tell a story not about daily events, but about an experience with their brand. The story must be compelling, exciting, entertaining, and media rich. Businesses who fail at social media begin the descent when they disrespect their customers and prospects with shameless attempts of pretending to be fun, innovative, interactive, and social.

Companies such as Domino’s, Red Box, and Starbucks succeed at social media because they tell a story about their businesses and they use social media as the platform to frame their story and show the customer/prospect what kind of experience they can expect to have with their brand. Domino’s tells a story about quality ingredients and value, and they’re not afraid to encourage their social media fans to publicly call them out when they don’t live up to their story by publicly posting pictures of bad pizza on Facebook. What’s the R.O.I? Increased customer loyalty, satisfaction, trust, relationship, viral outreach, and $ALES!

Besides the complete and utter disrespect for the customer/prospect and numerous other patterns of misbehavior, businesses fail at social media because they only want to be “social” and they end up not providing any worthy “media,” and when I say social, I’m talking about a one-way conversation. You know… That communication funnel parents have with their children when they are in trouble. The parent communicates with the child but isn’t AT ALL interested in hearing what the child has to say?

Why are businesses treating their customers and prospects like children??? Is your business doing this? If so, you should stop immediately because the damage to your business and reputation could be irreversible.

What is worthy media?:

So what exactly is “worthy” media and what is unworthy? The answer to this question is much easier than it may seem. To answer this question stop for a moment and begin thinking like a customer/prospect of your business. Stop thinking about budget initiatives, sales figures, billboards, radio, and tv ads, and begin thinking like a consumer. If you were a customer or prospect customer of your business, what kind of exciting media would you want to see and receive in your Facebook newsfeed from your business? If you’re a car dealer, your customer would likely be interested in seeing in depth video reviews of some of your hottest selling vehicles. So why not create a YouTube Channel? Grab a camera, take your vehicles for some test drives, and get filming! Present a story of how great the customer/prospect will feel in this new car. I’ll take it even a step further. Let’s say you’re selling a hybrid vehicle that the automaker claims gets XYZ miles to the gallon. Put that vehicle to the test and show your customer/prospect the results through a YouTube video.

So how are you going to sell your cars using social media? You’re going to create great content as previously mentioned and give the viewer an incredible offer. Think outside the box. The zero down bait is played out. Why not throw in an awesome stereo system, tickets to a local auto racing event, custom wheel and tire set or free paint job. Get creative.

When businesses use social media to tell a story, consumers interpret that story into a feeling. When social media is done properly, the consumer will gain a feeling of joy and excitement, leading them to make a quick and easy purchasing decision with YOUR BUSINESS!

Still don’t believe social media has an R.O.I? I believe I’ve just proved you wrong :)

What is unworthy media?:

I love discussing this subject because it happens so often. Many business executives and businesses get caught up in the narcissism of their personal achievements within their company as well as achievements within the company overall. NEWS FLASH!!! Your customers and prospects could care less about your quarterly earnings report. They could care less about your corporate fundraiser, and they could care less about seeing pictures of your executives hamming it up at the latest company gala. How do I know this? Because people don’t share this content with the people within their social networks. Without having content be shared, you will never “go viral.” After all, who wants to share quarterly earnings of a business with their friends on Facebook? Not me! REMEMBER: Social media is a form of communication and communication involves two directions in which both people are conversing with one another. So give your customers and prospects something to talk about that intrigues them to carry on a conversation with you and converse about your business with the people in their social networks.

When you’re creating media you have four options: text, graphic, audio and video. When thinking about your social media strategy, start first by brainstorming options based on the preceding four types of media. Examples include but are not limited to blogs, podcasts, infographics, cartoons, creative photography, funny videos, product review videos, etc.

How do you know if your business has failed at social media?:

1. Stagnant growth in the following of your social media accounts
2. Lack of conversation between you and your social media followers
3. Lack of social sharing of your content

If you have answered yes to the preceding statements; I’m sorry to inform you, but your business has failed at social media.

Why is social media important?:

Many businesses initiate a social media plan purely based on a knee-jerk reaction. They do it simply because their competitors do it. You must have a clear reason as to why your business will engage in social media. Here’s the reason: To stay in touch with customers. The beauty of social media is that it is permission based. People choose rather or not they want to follow a business’ social media channel. It is important to understand this because it requires a great deal of responsibility because just like the customer turned you on by clicking the “LIKE” button, they can just as easily turn you off by clicking the “UNLIKE” button.

By growing a large social media following, you have permission to constantly remain “top of mind” with your customers. As previously mentioned, with this power comes a great deal of responsibility which is why it is crucial not to abuse the power with unworthy media. Your flow process should always be focused primarily on creating valuable content (media) with a secondary focus of creating a promotional pitch. When the priority of the these two things become reversed, your social media campaign faces imminent doom!

Contrary to popular belief, people DON’T dislike being sold too. They dislike being sold to with crappy solicitations. How do I know this is true? Because infomercial products make billions of dollars even though consumers know that most infomercial products are low quality, cheaply made, and fail to live up to their expectations. So why then are infomercial product ads so successful? Because they are entertaining. They even turned self proclaimed pitch man Billy Mays into a celebrity. Imagine that! A salesman that people like so much they actually DON’T fast forward past his commercials.

My final driving point:

Social + Media = Social Media
Social – Media = NOISE

My final final point:

Sorry, but I’ve just gotta say one more thing. Since going public, Facebook has faced tremendous scrutiny about their ability to become a long-term, sustainable, and profitable business. While I believe that Facebook rightfully deserves a majority of the blame for their shortcomings, businesses who use Facebook as a social media platform are also largely at fault in Facebook’s shortcomings because 99.9% of businesses use Facebook improperly. Facebook’s ad platform is FANTASTIC when used to gain new fans. It truly is, but you must create incentives and media that are worthy as explained above. It isn’t Facebook’s fault that so many businesses create failing Facebook ad campaigns, quit and no longer do business with Facebook. It’s the businesses’ fault. Until businesses learn how to effectively use Facebook organically (free) and through their advertising platform, Facebook faces an uncertain future.

A successful social media campaign goes beyond what’s been discussed in this post, and as lengthy and wordy as this post was, I barely scratched the surface. If your business is on the verge of social media suicide contact me. I’ll help bring you back to life.

Also, are you a social media manager? Is your business failing at social media? Is your businesses excelling at social media? Did I make some valid points? Did I go off the deep end? I’d love to continue this conversation. Leave a comment or feel free to contact me.

- M.P.

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