4 Common Mistakes Companies Make When Mixing Social and Marketing

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Mixing Social & Marketing: Why highlight mistakes?

Social business is a different way of doing business – it has the potential to affect the entire organization, from stakeholder to customer. Potentially all stakeholders now have easy access to platforms that can amplify their voices. It’s important to empower stakeholders so their voices will contribute to the success of the enterprise. Failing to realize the differences can lead to serious mistakes; savvy businesses can and should learn from the mistakes of others.

51% of Facebook users and 64% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from the brands they follow. (Source: Social Media Examiner) Consequences of this magnitude ought to be enough motivation to be serious about avoiding the common pitfalls associated with mixing social and marketing.

Given the importance, let’s dive right in. Here are 4 Common mistakes companies make when mixing social and marketing:

1. Lack of a Strategy or Plan

Most of the time social is introduced into marketing as a tactic. Usually an executive will either ask a question “Why aren’t we on __ fill in the blank with a platform?” Or “We need to be on ___ ,“ when most likely the underlying motive is really “we need to be on this platform because our competition is or everyone else is”.

Tactical implementation is doomed from the beginning for a whole host of reasons. A tactical approach suggests that social is simply another channel to be exploited; it’s often viewed as free marketing and handed over to an intern or added to the tasks of an already burdened staffer. Instead of well-planned and coordinated messages, customers are assaulted with a barrage of disjointed messages.

Analogous to the old adage “think before you speak,” jumping on the bandwagon “because everyone’s doing it,” can get you into trouble if you’re not intentional about having a plan first.

2. Broadcasting – Too much talking not enough listening

The traditional advertising model, sending messages to create brand impressions, doesn’t work in the new social landscape. Instead of listening to conversations and observing, broadcast messages typically have one intent, that is sell, sell, sell. The focus is on the company, usually highlighting product features, certainly not on engaging an audience.

Recent statics reveal the 3 most important reasons small businesses leverage social media are:

  • Connecting with customers
  • Visibility
  • Self-promotion

While these are good reasons, even subtle attempts to self-promote are often rebuffed by savvy consumers who are usually more comfortable in the social space than most companies. Ignoring social norms can quickly backfire and draw unwanted negative attention to your brand.

It’s important that businesses focus on connecting with customers, instead of the latter more self-serving reasons; if companies connect with customers, offering helpful solutions, that genuine spirit of service will transcend any need to be visible, or self-promote.

3. Ghost town

It’s a dreary but common reality to come across sites where social media assets exist but there is no one home. Links that once had hope for potential are now clearly missed chances. The evidence? No posts, no responses, no activity whatsoever. An obvious risk is consumers will dismiss your brand as irrelevant and seek a competitor; equally concerning, this kind of presence leaves a company vulnerable to negative comments or customer’s expecting answers and being frustrated.

Almost 60% of people worldwide say they expect brands to respond to social media comments regarding service at least most of the time, according to a new report. (Source: Mashable)

How to avoid having a social media asset turn into a ghost town? It’s best to have a plan in place prior to jumping in feet-first. There are many free useful tools available, like content calendars and editorial suggestions. Companies serious about using Social Media as an asset should not underestimate the commitment involved. Customer engagement, monitoring, and feedback are continuous, and when implemented properly, these can provide great benefit.

4. No Social Media Guidelines or Contingency Plan

With the advent of social media, everyone, including all stakeholders can now have a voice. Without appropriate guidelines, companies are vulnerable to inappropriate posts, often by well-intentioned employees or other stakeholders. Make no mistake, in order for social business to be effective, trust is essential, however, guidelines are necessary.

Not convinced? Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy and 14 Corporate Social Media Policy Examples lists compelling reasons every business should have a social media policy.

Social Media Policy should address questions like:

  • Who will coordinate?
  • What process needs to be in place to regularly monitor social media activity?
  • How will this happen?

In her post, How to Create Social Media Guidelines, Heidi Cohen provides helpful suggestions and tips every company can use. Don’t wait for an emergency to plan what will happen if there are negative comments, difficult questions or problems that need to be addressed. Be proactive, rather than wait until an issue erupts and be forced to react in crisis mode; think through some of these scenarios ahead of time.

How To Avoid Mistakes When Mixing Social & Marketing

First and foremost, you must have a plan. Your plan should address important questions like:

  • Is your target customer on social media? If so where?
  • What kind of content will help them find, buy and use your product or service?
  • Who in your organization should lead the social initiative? Consider a team approach.

Start with the basics.

Your website is the best place to begin. First make sure you are updating content regularly. There is content management systems software that will facilitate maintaining your site’s content without having to hire a programmer for updates and changes.

If you don’t have a blog, you should consider one; companies that have a blog generate significantly more leads that those that do not.

Be sure your site is mobile-friendly; view the content from a smart phone. Can you read the content without having to scroll from side to side? Are you able to find what you are looking for with relative ease?

Optimize assets and content so search engines and consumers can find your content. This will probably require professional help. You’ll need to do some research to figure out the terms consumers are actually using to find your content.

Develop social media guidelines and contingency plans; there are plenty of good templates that can serve as a guide. Here are a few to get you started.

Social Media Governance Policy Database

100 Examples of Corporate Social Media Policies

Best Practices for Corporate Social Media Policies

Social Media Policy Best Practices: Trust is Cheaper than Control

What else can you think of? What other mistakes have you seen?

Joe Ruiz
This monthly Social Customer Experience Marketing column is contributed by Joseph Ruiz. Joseph is President of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing and consulting firm specializing in web-based integrated Relationship Marketing. Joseph thrives on the ever-changing nature of marketing in the digital age, embracing interactive opportunities, while applying three decades of hands-on expertise in online and traditional marketing. When he’s not helping business-makers navigate through complex marketing challenges, Joseph enjoys reading, working out and traveling just about anywhere…anywhere you can get a digital signal, that is. +Joseph Ruiz
Joe Ruiz


Integrated Marketing Strategist, Client Engagement Building, Cultivating Thought Leadership, Birdwatching Junkie http://t.co/R5ztPuW5RE
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  1. says

    So true Ruiz! Thanks for this.

    With the rise of social media many people are into it, not considering the proper planning, resources in order for your social media campaign to be successful. It’s just like joining the war with no armors and weapons – BARE NAKED.

    Social media is a wide world. You have to be well armored and equipped in order to win the battle. Evaluate first your website, and everything…Is it ready to go social?

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