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Lots of companies waste money on social media marketing — despite good intentions. Which pitfalls could you avoid?

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Spin Doctor & Copywriter // Spin Factory

It’s not that easy to get social media marketing right.

Still, that doesn’t stop most companies from giving it a go without a good strategy.

Having seen many of these attempts, where each and every step tend to cost lots of money, I wanted to compile a list of typical mistakes that are often being made in sequence before the company starts getting things right.

Here goes:

Typical Pitfalls of Social Media Marketing

How to Waste Money on Social Media Marketing.

Bad strategies are expensive.

Round #1 — Push Marketing (First Attempt)

The company realizes that the web is important and a huge and cheap opportunity. Their reaction is to start pushing their corporate messages in a variety of channels.

Round #2 — Social Object Marketing

The company realizes that their content isn’t all that interesting. In most cases annoying even. In order to increase engagement, they add share buttons and starts talking about “going viral.”

Round #3 — Paid Online Media

The company might give up on the notion of social and decides to push messages via digital advertising instead, because they can much more easily defend those investments internally. Some companies even buy media to get their virals going.

Round #4 —Pull Marketing (SEO)

The company realizes that people are actively coming to them in search of knowledge and assistance. So instead of pushing only their own messages the company now resorts to SEO to gather as much incoming traffic as possible.

Round #5 — Transparency Effort

The company realizes the dynamic of the long tail theory; people are searching for a wide array of topics and the only way to get in front of potential clients is to become transparent, i.e. share an abundance of internal data.

Round #6 — Social Media Guidelines (First Attempt)

With the acceptance of the social media world, things are starting to become complex. The first questions arise not about revenue and sales, but about the intersecting dimensions of public, personal, private and professional.

Round #7 — Distributed Online Presence

With a first sense of control, the company realizes that their own site isn’t nearly enough. They “need to be where their customers are” and with their new guidelines, the company distributes their presence on a wide array of public social platforms.

Round #8 — Conversation Marketing

With their newfound presence on the social web, the company puts their guidelines into play and starts individually interacting on the social web. For early companies, the public reactions are sometimes welcoming, but the effect soon wears thin.

Round #2 — Social Media Monitoring (First Attempt)

Often as a way of safeguarding their resource spend on conversational investments, or as a consequence of being accessible, the company subscribes to expensive monitoring software. Often these softwares are managed by junior staff with no or little analytical and statistical training.

Round #10 — Clown Campaigning

At this point, the company is spending a lot of budget on digital and in an attempt to save their investments, they once again resort to push marketing and places a lot of hope in viral marketing. But the entertainment business is a tough one.

Round #11 — Social Network Withdrawal

The company has really taken a beating at this point. The evangelists are looking for somewhere to hide and all those I-told-you-so gets back into power. Their first course of action is to mount everything thing down.

Round #12 — Organisational Restructuring

Back at Square 1, other people within the company are starting to see the potential within digital. But they want to use the web to make more money for the company. They understand that success always has a baseline in operations and they start to slowly build a new structure.

Round #13 — Marketing As A Service (MaaS)

The company now wants to make sense and they see possibilities in being of service to their customers and prospects. Exciting CRM programs are starting to take shape as well as the occasional web service platform.

Round #14 — A Holistic Social Media Strategy

The company already has one or two or three social media presentations stashed away on their corporate server, but at this point, they start to see the need for a social media strategy created from a business perspective and based on business objectives.

Round #15— Blind Data Harvesting

The company falls hard on their back as they realize that a strategy can’t be created without some ways of measuring the activities. They start to surf the web to find easy ways of measuring their activities but they soon realize that it takes more than a simple formula.

Round #16 — Social Media Intelligence (Analytics)

At this point, the company starts aching for making sense of all that customer data out there. They turn to their own monitoring software and CRM systems, only to find that big data analysis is far more complex than they ever realized.

Round #17 — Content Marketing (Inbound Marketing)

Simultaneously, the company starts to realize that content must be created in a cheap way, but it must still live up to certain standards. And the content needs to be created not only monthly or quarterly but all the time. And their fans, who are now starting to add up, are always hungry for more.

Round #18 — Push Marketing (Second Attempt)

With new fresh investments in content and campaigns, the push marketing paradigm is brought back into life. Having just the pull audience isn’t enough, so the companies are now investigating new ways of reaching out, like influencer collaborations and advanced seeding strategies.

Round #19 — User-Centric Approach

The company starts to realize that the users must be understood on a psychological level, otherwise, they have no shot at activating their social graphs. Now they’re starting to realize how their monitoring software should be utilized and how to start producing best practice processes.

Round #20 — Social Media Guidelines (Second Attempt)

Now the company realizes that the guidelines that they already have are nothing but crap. They need processes, so they are starting to develop internal programs for keeping ahead. We are now starting to see some really interesting and powerful social media initiatives from the company.

Round #21 — Industry Benchmarking

The company now reaches a level of proficiency where all past sins are forgotten. The C-Level now only cares about leveraging the knowledge and the best practice processes to beat the competition in the online space and to drive sales.

Round #22 — Competency Hunt

Measuring, qualified analysis, and creative quality are still very difficult and experts are once again consulted, but the company is quickly disappointed, wondering why theses experts linger at the early stages of the evolution?

Round #23 — Immerse and Disperse

The company is now starting to integrate social media initiatives into more and more parts of the organization, both horizontally and vertically. The great paradox at this stage is that often IT department is hiding somewhere.

Round #24 — Open-Systems Approach

As the positive effects become more and more apparent for the company, the constant flow of knowledge derived from analytics helps the organization to rather align their operations than trying to persuade the outside world to change their minds.

Round #25 — Listen, Learn, Engage

At this point, the company no longer cares about online or offline, only how to be better decision-makers than their competition. They listen, analyze and measure and then they improve their processes before inviting the users to be a part of the constant innovation cycle across all areas of business.

What are some of the pitfalls with social media marketing in your experience? Please share in the comment section.

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Author:

Jerry Silfwer is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.


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