Why Your Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work (And How to Fix It)

Social media marketing doesn’t work is a phrase I often hear. Without looking at the campaign or doing any analysis, I can almost always determine the reason. It’s one or more of these six factors.

  1. Reuses existing corporate content. These social media campaigns reuse the same information published elsewhere without even being adapted for social media (Note: Reusing content differs from recycled content) Telltale signs include truncated headlines on Twitter and endless promotional broadcasts. FIX: Create an editorial calendar to ensure that targeted social media content is developed. Where possible, plan ahead to take advantage of other corporate marketing creation efforts to minimize costs and maintain consistency.
  2. Has no one minding the program. Social media isn’t a significant part of anyone’s job description with related accountability. If anyone’s responsible, it’s something they pay attention to when they’ve got time. In this case, the firm has missed a major element of social media, namely they need to show up and actively participate. Alternatively, the social media marketing efforts have been automated so no employees are needed. FIX: Assign one or more employees to represent your organization on social media networks. Work with Human Resources to integrate these tasks are into their job description.
  3. Hasn’t built a community. Executives act as if their customers and the public are waiting for them to show up on social media networks. Yet the reality is that a supportive community takes time to build. Don’t confuse the ability to send email or exchange communications with building community. FIX: Build relationships with people, especially those interested in your brand and products. On social media networks it’s call a social media tribe and requires active participation and engagement.
  4. Is all alone. Many times, social media marketing is started as a test on the side. As a result, it isn’t integrated into the overall marketing plan. Therefore it doesn’t leverage internal media or other forms of advertising to promote the effort and let prospects, customers and the public know that you’re present on social media platforms. FIX: Assess your marketing and content development plans to determine where it would be effective to integration promotions for your social media efforts.
  5. Doesn’t receive any financial resources. Often, the corporate response to this point is “If social media is free, why do you need money?”  As a result, executives overlook the need for tailored social media marketing assets in line with their brand as well as other social media related costs. Further, social media can have a lot of hidden costsFIX: Determine the level of corporate social media participation. Then assess the related resources needed and their costs.
  6. Has no goals, strategy, tactics or related metrics related to the business’ overall objectives. No marketer worth their salt would develop a marketing plan without these elements since it would be doomed to failure. Yet, this is what many companies do when it comes to social media. FIX: Determine what corporate goals you want your social media marketing to achieve such as expanded audience, improved branding, or increased sales. Then develop appropriate strategies, tactics and related metrics to achieve these objectives.

The reality is that when someone says their social media doesn’t work, it usually means they haven’t integrated it into their overall marketing plans.  While many social media platforms are free for participants, developing the content, promoting your social media efforts, getting dedicated staff, and providing financial support is critical to your success.

Are there any other factors that you would add to this list? If so what are they and why do they keep your social media marketing from working?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: AsthmaHelper via Flickr

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  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman)

    I agree with everything you have here, Heidi. It’s amazing to see it all smushed down into six problems, but what I really think is spectacular is that you don’t just browbeat your readers – you tell them how to get better. Great post!

  • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

    Margie — Glad that we’re on the same page. My aim was to show social media naysayers that the challenge was the way that they were trying to implement social media marketing not that it didn’t work. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://twitter.com/4byoung Brenda Young

    Great short summary, Heidi. Another aspect to this is that when something is done really well, it can look easy or simple to do which can give people the impression that social media can be done without planning. Social media isn’t like using a stapler. To do it well, as you mentioned, requires thought, planning and the right resources.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Brenda– I totally agree with you. Many executives overlook the need to have social media goals and business strategies and tactics to achieve them with related metrics. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Brian Hanna

    Very nice read. You are right on the money. My company is just getting started in social media and this is a great list to address possible issues. ~Fantastic, Brian

  • http://www.knowledgenotebook.com/ Don Li

    I like #3 most, “Hasn’t built a community”, a community is like a FIRE!

    Suggestion:
    Move FIX to a new paragraph.

    Thanks. YOU rock!