5 Ways to Fail in Social Media

by Deborah Ager on February 1, 2011

...Failure.Will companies this year know how to use social media—and why? This list fills you in on some of the ways companies fail at social media, so you can learn from the mistakes of others.

1. Hire an Intern as Your Social Media Manager.

 Companies that do not understand, or see the value in, social media may wish to save money by hiring an intern to manage social media. These companies would never dream of hiring an intern to manage their PR or marketing campaigns.

The companies may want to see ROI before they invest any money in social media efforts.

They are caught in a vicious circle because they can’t see results until they develop a plan and employ an experienced person to develop and manage the process.  

Why trust your company image with an inexperienced worker?

2. Never Research Your Audience.

If your business wants to use social media to attract and engage your target market, please ask yourself who, where, what, and why.

WHO are you trying to reach? “We’ve got to be on Facebook!” someone says. First, take a step back and determine your target market.

Return to your business plan and review the description of the people you want to reach. Then, find where they spend time. Did you know that certain age groups do not use Twitter that often?

WHERE Once you review the defined target market, it’s possible to research where the audience spends time. Do you want to find people who love to ski or play a certain video game? Facebook allows advertisers to target ads by user interest.

Are you looking for Federal Procurement Officers? On the DC Web Women list, a person asked if her company should have a Facebook page. The company was a government contractor.

Federal Procurement Officers may be on Facebook, but do they use Facebook to find contractors?

WHAT/WHY To measure success, determine what goals you want to achieve with your social media efforts. What measurable results will indicate success (or failure)?

For a Facebook advertisement, you may measure how many people visited your landing page or how many purchased a product or signed up for a report. For Twitter, you may measure how many followed a certain link or participated in a Twitter chat.

The decision on what to measure will be unique to each company. It’s worth the time to put thought into what to measure.

3. Work In Silos.

When work is performed in “silos,” colleagues do not know what other people in the company are doing or they are contributing to similar goals. Perhaps one person manages Twitter while another person directs search engine optimization efforts.

Each person may be attempting to complete a similar goal, yet the can’t work together because they don’t know what strategy the other one is using.

When your company silos efforts, it duplicates efforts and wastes valuable resources.

4. Don’t Measure Results.

As discussed in #2 above, determine your goals and create targets to reach. Once you have that, determine how you will track responses and in what form you will review them.

Will the data go into a spreadsheet? How often will the data be reviewed? Who will analyze the information?

A regular analytics review schedule works well to keep everyone on track with program success.

5. Stop.

Would you continue to follow a dead Twitter feed or a Facebook page that wasn’t update for two months? Your community will be forgiving to a certain extent. Then, they will begin to abandon ship to find useful and relevant information somewhere else.


Image: Chris Tazewell via Flickr, Creative Commons

Deborah Ager manages niche affiliate websites, publishes a nationally known poetry magazine, owns ClickWisdom, and authored a book of poetry (Midnight Voices). She likes connecting on Twitter.

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