The rise and fall of social media projects

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Sorry – I guess we crashed with our social media campaign

While 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

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