Social media isn’t failing; you’re failing at social media


Trying social media seems to be all the rage. Why do I say trying? Because many are jumping in without solid social media direction, strategy, commitment, or follow-through. This, of course, has the potential to yield the same substandard performance as “trying” to lose weight. The unfortunate side affect of social media failure is the questioning of its place as a viable marketing channel for your business when it most likely wasn’t social media that failed. Over the past several years I’ve run into a multitude of examples of companies who are likely not seeing the results they should from their online marketing campaigns. In fact, I’ve found enough bad examples to create several presentations focused exclusively on social media failures. Let’s take a look at an example of one company that almost got it right.

A Social Media Facebook Callout Sign Here we have a local Dairy Queen franchise that created their own Facebook account and developed a campaign to promote the page from their physical locations. We can see they provided signage that, while not sexy, gives us clear direction on what they want us to do and where we should go to perform said action. They go on to tell me what is in it for me, which is something most companies leave out. This is where I normally would drone on about the importance of the all-powerful WIIFM concept: that’s “what’s in it for me,” for those who have not heard it before. But let’s look instead at why their execution falls short.

Upon liking their page and checking in, I asked the cashier what I get (holding up my phone) for this Facebook deal. She turns to another gal in the back and asks, “Hey what do they get for…” Long story short, neither of them knew what I was supposed to receive. After informing them of their own offer by showing them the details, then ordering, I asked if she wanted the code from the phone to mark that the offer had been redeemed. To my surprise she said, “No, I just over-rode the pricing.” The significance of this action is critical. The restaurant now has no idea that social media was a factor in this sale. Because the marketing method that brought me in was not tracked, no attribution will be given to social media. This, of course, means belief in its value will not be reinforced and, subsequently, the program is likely to be canceled.

Here are a few of the most common social media failures I see:

  • Failing to promote social media channels via traditional channels like radio, tv, and print.
  • Slapping social icons on printed materials with no WIIFM call to action. Icons are just notifications and are inadequate for compelling people to take action.
  • Not articulating a reason or incentive to participate with you socially.
  • Forgetting to make everyone in your business aware of all offers available to customers and how to assist them in the redemption of those offers.
  • Failing to record redemption codes and anecdotal evidence of wins, such as asking, “How did you hear about us?”
  • Using some new technology, network, or tool, like QR Codes, because everyone is doing it instead of because it fits your strategy, goals, and objectives.
  • Unreasonable expectations of performance from social media, when little effort or resources are allocated to it.
  • Placing a higher burden of proof on social media ROI than any of your other forms of marketing.

While it would be easy to pass any one of these things off as an isolated incident or one that is limited to small businesses, these things routinely happen with large multinational companies and small businesses alike. I could tell you about the banana shake Foursquare incident with Rally’s, the Ruby Tuesday door icon and drink coaster, or even the Orlando Airport QR Code failure, but I will save those and hundreds more for another day.

Are your social media efforts generating results? Do you see friends making poor social media decisions? Let us help, because friends don’t let friends fail at social media.