10 Things Your Boss Doesn’t Want to Know About Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing seems to be on everyone’s list for 2011. Therefore, it’s important to bear in mind that many bosses and senior management have misperceptions about what social media marketing is, what it can do for their organization and what’s required to get their company on track.

Here are ten things about social media marketing that your boss may have trouble with:

  1. Didn’t you say social media was free? While social media platforms may be free to register with and participate, social media marketing requires budget. Further, social media marketing can have a lot of hidden costs that you may not anticipate.
  2. You mean social media doesn’t just happen? You can’t just set up a Facebook page or Twitter account and hope fans will take charge. From a corporate perspective, headcount is needed to support your social media marketing efforts. To this end, social media interaction must be in someone’s job description or it won’t happen! Therefore, human resources should also be on board. And, bear in mind that employees need social media guidelines and possibly training.
  3. Can’t we just repurpose our brochures for content? A well-planned content strategy complete with an editorial calendar is necessary to support your social media efforts. Social media marketing content must be contextually relevant to the platforms and the audiences. You can’t place other marketing collateral on social media without adapting it.
  4. Aren’t three tweets a day enough? Even if you create targeted content for Twitter, three tweets over the course of twenty-four hours is insufficient to get noticed in an ever-changing stream of 140 character content. Further, there’s the challenge of building a corporate Twitter following. This means you must give people a reason to follow you and keep reading your tweets! You need a tailored Twitter strategy.
  5. Do our customers actually want to engage with us on social media platforms? Social media platforms aren’t one-way broadcast channels. While some firms and organizations use them this way effectively, such as airlines for announcing flight and gate changes, social media networks allow one-to-one and many-to-many exchanges. Further, social media users expect companies to respond to them on social media in a timely manner.
  6. What?!? Do we really have to allow negative feedback? Remember feedback about your company, brand and products can appear on your website, suppliers and distributors’ websites, competitors’ websites and/or third party sites, such as ePinions or TripAdvisor. While it may be difficult for management, they must respect both positive and negative feedback. Consumers will read the details and verify the content. Most reviews qualify products and even mediocre reviews can increase sales by putting product and price in context. Get customer service engaged and interacting with dissatisfied customers. At a minimum, respond to negative comments.
  7. Do we actually need a social media marketing strategy? Social media marketing isn’t something that gets done when an employee has some extra time. Like other marketing strategies, it requires goals that are related to the overall organization. These goals need metrics to track your organization’s progress. They must be broken into smaller, achievable tactics. (For a 2011 checklist, here’s 111 ways to jumpstart your marketing.)
  8. Can’t we just hire an intern and hope they’re very plugged in? Many people expect that a student who’s active on social media platforms will understand how to engage customers on these networks and support prospects as they move through the purchase process. If you’re lucky enough to find that person, pair her up with your best sales people.
  9. We can’t outsource social media to an agency? No. Unlike other forms of marketing, social media requires active and engaged employees. Their responses have to be human, not slick marketing-speak, with an understanding of what the firm’s like from the inside. Agencies can support a social media marketing campaign’s backend processes such as content development and related technology to place and update it,  but they can’t be your voice.
  10. We have to have input from employees across organization (aka domain experts)? You can’t wait for an opinion on something someone hasn’t tried. Get your employees who understand your customers’ needs involved on social media to learn how to provide the support that keep customers using your product. Some firms don’t understand the importance of this engagement but it can have a big impact on future sales.

As you implement your 2011 social media marketing plans, bear in mind that these strategies and tactics need to be adapted to the current environment and users’ needs. Regardless of what you assumed about social media before you started, it’s quite likely to change as your market evolves. It’s important to plan for these changes so you and your team aren’t taken by surprise.

Do you have any other preconceived notions that bosses may have about social media? If so, please share them with other readers in the comments section.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Related reading: 5 Key Indicators of Social Media Adoption [Chart Included]

Photo credit: cogdogblog via Flickr

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  • http://www.jontusmedia.com Jon Buscall

    I think 9) can be a bit of a contentious issue because a lot of agencies are actually looking to be the voice of companies. I see this key value proposition all over the place.
    For example, ghost blogging seems to be something that agencies (and even VAs) offer. We personally won’t ghost blog but we provide tailored content under our own name; nevertheless, I personally prefer to advise and mentor a company to develop their own voice. Often it’s a case of holding their hands to help them get their confidence up.

    Ghost tweeting is a definite no no, but I see this too and have been approached about it. We have one client here in Stockholm who we go into twice a week and work onsite, blogging and tweeting for them and I’d say we have an excellent understanding of their voice because we’ve helped create it. Still, the long term goal is to hand it over to them 100%.

    (Another outstanding post, Heidi. Discovering your blog last week looks like being one of the finds of the year already !)

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Jon–Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post.

      I agree that point 9 about outsourcing may cause a stir. FIrms need to think about how they are presenting themselves to their customers and the public. One of the critical factors about social media marketing is having an authentic voice. To achieve this, you need to have your employees involved in the process, expressing their perspectives. Agencies can provide useful support in terms of copyediting and technical support.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.mistertester.com Piotr Kurzaj – MisterTester

    I find this list very useful and very informative. A lot of misconceptions clarified – just as in many fields, social media also needs a great deal of education. I think it’s awesome that you’re providing tons of relevant content on your blog – thank you :)

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Piotr–I’m glad that you found this post useful. You are correct one of the big trends for the coming year will be social media education and training across the enterprise. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen