Social Media Marketing Worst Practices

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Many marketers are not exactly sure about the difference between best and worst practices when it comes to social media where intentions are commercially motivated. This is particularly true with social media SEO efforts where keywords and customer engagement create alienation. Identifying best and worst practics is a work in progress of course, as communities develop, grow and change.

  • Being fake in any way isn’t good for anyone on the social web. Early on, companies like Walmart and Sony (via their PR firms) tried to fake their way into making consumers believe sites like the Sony PSP blog or the Walmarting Across America blog were authored by impartial brand evangelists, when it wasn’t that at all. Both Sony and Walmart have learned from those mistakes and now have social media sites that follow many of the best practices above. Some say failure with social media is a sort of “rite of passage”.
  • Not listening. How can you learn anything if information is only flowing one way? Listening is really the most important step in learning about social communities on the web. It’s important just starting out and even more so on an ongoing basis to monitor conversations, sentiment about brands and identifying influentials to engage. Lucky for companies, there are abundant social media monitoring tools to choose from.
  • Being oblivious to formal & unwritten social rules. It pays to lurk a bit before participation with social communities, especially when you have commercial intentions. Aspire to “speak like a native” when embarking on social media journey to improve your brand visibility and to encourage relationships. Social networking, news and media sharing sites all have Terms of Service guidelines, but the community itself will have guidelines for behavior that can only be understood by observing and participating. Ignoring these guidelines risks alienation by the community.
  • Being pushy or overtly salesy in messaging and communications and expecting traditional marketing outcomes are common behaviors by companies that see social media communities simply as content distribution channels for existing marketing programs. Overt commercial messages, especially sales solicitations are outright tabu in most social communties. A social environment amongst “friends” and likeminded individuals isn’t going to accept interruptive messaging. Think of barging into a conversation at a party trying to sell something to people who are talking about their favorite movies and sharing baby pictures – and the disdain that behavior would encourage. Provide the kind of information that facilitates choices that lead to sales, and you’ll go a lot further.
  • Approaching social media channels as “silos” – Many companies approach social media via individual web sites rather than as a collaborative effort. An example would be a company that starts a blog within one division and another that starts something on Facebook and yet another creates a group on LinkedIn or Ning. Not working together is inefficient and can create mixed messages for consumers that participate in more than one social media destination for the brand.
  • Not staffing appropriately

Actively listening and building relationships with communities is a full-time job. Also, its imperative to ensure community managers have the skill sets needed to articulate their objectives for social media in addition to utilizing tools that will resonate with their audience.

  • Not having a mechanism to assess ROI

CEOs that ultimately give the green light to pursue social media marketing are concerned with the bottom line. Its essential that a social media strategy includes mechanisms to assess business value. It might be a value placed on increased product awareness, solid sales leads or cost savings due to a reduction in support staff due to social media tools. ROI is easier to obtain if there is a stated goal for the social media campaign. Regardless of how value is determined, social media needs to be validated as a profitable marketing channel.

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