The 10 Plagues of Social Media

Protect Your Organization From Social Media Evils

Like the ten plagues of ancient Egypt, social media can wreck havoc with your marketing and business plans. While in today’s 24/7, always on, everyone’s a publisher environment, every business faces the possibility of a PR crisis occurring, you can mitigate the impact of most social media evils.

Here are the ten plagues of social media and actionable marketing tips to overcome them. (On a related note, here’s the 10 Commandments of Social Media.) 

  1. Plague of not pay attention to what’s being said on social media. Without monitoring the conversation for company and brand mentions, you can’t respond to what’s being said about you or keep in sync with your target market. Even if you’re not using social media to enhance your marketing, you must listen and respond where appropriate. Actionable Marketing Tip: Install one or more listening platforms to know what’s being said about your company, brand, products, executives and competitors in order to respond where appropriate.
  2. Plague of not being available to your prospects, customers and the public on social media platforms. Consumers want to engage with other consumers and with marketers on social media. Therefore, it you create a social media presence, it’s important to show up and participate. Otherwise, it’s like locking the doors to your digital business with a sign that reads “No one’s home.” Actionable Marketing Tip: Since social media is a 24/7 platform, at a minimum, be available during business hours, preferably across time zones.
  3. Plague of having too much promotion and corporate gobbly-guck. Do you think that social media’s another one way push medium? Not sure if your organization has this problem? Read some of your content. Does it sound like a computer could have created it without human input? If so, you have a problem. Actionable Marketing Tip: Leave anything remotely promotional off of social media. It’s a major no-no. Make sure your social media communications and interactions sound like a real person speaking, not a company. You shouldn’t be a shill for your business or anyone else.
  4. Plague of having no focus. This tends to happen when a marketer’s still testing to determine the best form of social media for their company. As a result, their social media activities and interactions are all over the place. Your content is inconsistent in how and what it discusses. As a result, the public and more importantly your target market don’t know what to expect from you. Actionable Marketing Tip: Develop marketing strategies outlining the type of content for each social media platform. Additionally, insure that your brand guidelines encompass its portrayal in terms of voice, language, people, video and audio.
  5. Plague of having too many platforms. There’s no magic number of social media platforms on which to engage. Businesses, like individuals, must decide where they want to focus their effort since resources are limited. Further, businesses must be able to coordinate their activities with their backend systems and other processes. Actionable Marketing Tip: While niche platforms continue to emerge, you must determine which are best for your business based on your offering, target market, content, and competitors.
  6. Plague of not providing sufficient training or social media guidelines. As a marketer, you can’t just go out and hire a college intern who knows Facebook. You need people representing your firm who understand your business, brand, customers and needs. Actionable Marketing Tip: To ensure your social media presence is aligned with your business, create a set of social media guidelines and provide training so your staff knows how to handle situations on social media platforms.
  7. Plague of not producing enough content to fuel social media engagement. Since social media feeds on content, it’s critical to provide sufficient information to attract social media participants and to lure them into your organization. Actionable Marketing Tip: Develop an editorial calendar around the topics of interest to your customers. Don’t underestimate the need to answer their questions to persuade them to use your business.
  8. Plague of not engaging with your target audience. For marketers, it’s not enough to just set up a Facebook page or Twitter account. You must actively participate on these social media platforms. Actionable Marketing Tip: Determine how your organization will engage on social media platforms. At a minimum, have a way to route customer service inquiries and responses. Remember customers will use every entrance to ask questions.
  9. Plague of not providing sufficient budget and resources to support your social media plans. As firm starts to gain a foothold on social media, it’s critical to have sufficient budget and headcount to continue to create content and engage with your target market. Actionable Marketing Tip: Marketers and businesses often underestimate the amount of employee time and effort required to create relevant content and to interact with customers. Further, you need supporting marketing to promote your social media efforts and to convert social media participants to customers.
  10. Plague of a PR Crisis. Natural disasters and other events beyond your organization’s control, combined with your customers’ and the public’s ability to immediately voice their displeasure and anger about your firm—whether based on real or perceived issues—means every business can be the target of a social media firestorm. This is most likely to happen when no one’s paying any attention. Crises often happen at night, on the weekend or on a holiday. Actionable Marketing Tip: For most firms, what’s most important is how you respond to the issue, while showing respect for everyone involved. Often, not responding is interpreted as showing that you’re totally out of touch. To mitigate the impact of one of these issues, it’s critical to have a crisis management plan that’s up-to-date complete with the appropriate names. (Here’s a real-time PR Communications Checklist.)

When using social media to achieve your business goals, it’s important to be aware of how your well-intended actions could be negatively perceived by your target audience. It’s a good idea to take precautions before any of these issues face your organization.

What else would you consider a social media plague and why? What would you recommend doing to mitigate its impact?

Wishing you and yours the best for the holidays this weekend whatever you celebrate.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dorena-wm/5203929918/

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  • http://www.garybembridge.com/ Gary Bembridge

    Great posting! Thanks for sharing.
    One other plague , though it may be part of the #6, is that the legal department and other internal guidelines so clog up your company’s ability to act in the right way on social media that you create an unreal and ineffective presence. I have seen this especially in large corporations, and even more so if they are based in the USA, where the process and rules choke social media efforts and discourage them as too onerous and challenging (and risky) for the teams to even bother.

  • http://twitter.com/AdrianKnoll Adrian Knoll

    Love the Passover analogy. Set your social media free :-)
    I think that the most interesting part was to concentrate on few platforms an not using too many. The hard part is to find out on which social media and platforms your customers hang out. 

  • http://www.ivisionmobile.com/ Mobile Marketing

    Great Post! I really enjoy all of the informative information that is provided to us. Thanks!

  • http://opencrm.co.uk Thomas Chapman

    Thanks for that post, lots of food for thought in there. I think the crux lies in developing a successful strategy – deciding what content to post on which platform and ensuring it all adds value to the conversation. If only there was a magic wand to help do that for you…