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BizReport : Social Marketing : September 28, 2009

Five sure-fire ways to fail at social marketing

We've talked a lot about social marketing over the past few months, and it's certainly the way forward for businesses that want to engage and interact with consumers. But, just as social media can boost your brand's awareness, it can just as easily backfire.

by Helen Leggatt

Before you jump on the social marketing bandwagon there are many, many things to consider. It's not good enough to just set up accounts and task an account executive with keeping it running in their spare time. The key to a successful social media strategy is participation and consistency. Social marketing demands just as much planning and pro-activeness as any other marketing activity.

So, if you're putting in place a social marketing plan for the coming months, here are five sure-fire ways to rack up a fail.

1. Too much marketing, not enough social. Promoting your business must not be the overriding message you communicate to your online social networks. Social marketing is 20% marketing and 80% social. Facebook statuses and Tweets should contain value first and foremost, interspersed with marketing messages, but always accompanied with your unique brand personality.

2. Lack of brand consistency. A lack of consistency in terms of brand personality can turn consumers off from your social marketing efforts. Keep your online voices and branding consistent across all social networks being frequented. As much as your brand needs a set of guidelines to ensure consistency across all marketing communications, your social media activity does, too.

3. Waning wannabe. Once you have committed to social marketing and have set up accounts, use them. There's nothing more disconcerting to a consumer than seeing a ghost-town of a Facebook page or a desolate Twitter account with no activity. At the same time, don't expect huge audiences to appear overnight - you're going to have to talk to some empty auditoriums for a while.

4. Lack of acknowledgement. When consumers join your social network, fan-page or even your blog, they are engaging in a relationship with your brand. They want feedback on a personal level - so give it to them. They want to hear "we're sorry you didn't have a great experience, let's see what we can do about it" or "thank you for taking the time to express your views on x, y, z".

5. Don't be a control freak. Some businesses aren't confident with social networking as they don't feel able to control the environment. What they fail to realize is that lack of control is what feeds the social aspect - a controlled environment will kill conversation and lead to an untrusting and suspicious audience. You must expect a mixture of good and bad feedback, the odd troll and even some competitors sneaking in, but you shouldn't constantly look to control these elements. In fact, sometimes your own social network will sort it out these "problems" for you.

Have you experienced any social media mishaps recently?

Tags: brand marketing, consumer engagement, consumer interaction, social marketing, social media, social networks

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