Recently, I was asked to give a talk to a room full of marketers about how to succeed in social media. It was a flattering proposal, but the truth is the success formula varies so drastically by vertical and by brand that it's hard to distill meaningfully into a few easy steps for a big crowd.
So when I was asked to outline how to succeed, my response was that I couldn't. What I could do, on the other hand, was explain precisely how to fail.
Social media failure can largely be attributed to a set of simple strategies, or what I call the ten commandments of #FAIL, which are sure to give you a ripping head start on the downward spiral to social media lemon-dom.
Isolate your team
Everyone knows that corporate life can be fraught with politics, and that all other forms of marketing are dying. The best thing to do as a social media leader is to shelter your team from all other teams.
Encourage them all to exist inside a bubble, communicating only with you and perhaps your social agency. If you ever do need to communicate with other teams, be sure to speak only in terms of "likes," retweets, and repins. Never consider where social media could integrate into broader campaigns, or into the overall marketing mix.
Don't measure your results
Social media is so unique, why try to reduce the magic to numbers? You know in your heart that the engaging campaign you just ran truly moved the needle, so evaluate it in terms of feelings rather than math. Besides -- you're so busy doing, that it doesn't make sense to stop doing, in order to measure. That would take your eye off the prize.
Make social communications one-way only
The best way to make friends is to talk about yourself incessantly. So don't ask questions. Don't ask for customer opinion or feedback, and in the unfortunate event you get any, ignore it completely. And when it comes to negative feedback? Enforce a strict rule to delete any and all negative comments, flag them as "inappropriate," and definitely don't respond -- that would just be encouraging the bad customer behavior. Listening to feedback only leads to tragedies like this where feelings and egos get hurt.
Post to drive business value, not customer value
Also known as WIIFM (what's in it for me), this commandment ensures that all your social communications drive just your own agenda.
After all, people need to be told what to do and how to buy. So if they haven't responded to your five percent off promotion, keep reposting it until it works -- over, and over, and over. Who needs ads when you can post for free? Ads are for little girls.
Don't let data interfere with your ideas
Never let data interfere with what your gut or articles on the internet are telling you. You know how pesky data can be, particularly when it just won't support a theory that you like. So when data is inconveniencing you, ignore it at all costs. Call it "inconclusive," if you must call it anything, and then bury it.
Covet big numbers!
It's hard enough to get the C-suite to pay attention to social media, so ensure that you focus on the biggest numbers you can find. In most cases, this will be fans or followers. Don't worry about engagement, conversion, or the quality of your audience or customer loyalty. These kinds of metrics really only confuse the issue.
Treat social media as a magical ATM
Is your content shareable? Are your customers your advocates? Is there a positive dialogue around your brand online? Is your social network engaged? Who cares! Engagement is too wishy-washy -- you need some hard ROI. And if your customers aren't engaging with you, go right to paid media and skip owned content entirely. You can't waste your time worrying about the little stuff like building community.
Ignore the competition
Your company is as unique as you, and if you're going to get ahead it's best to ignore the competition. Competitive performance is just a distraction. And if you grew your audience or your engagement by 10 percent, it would only depress you to learn that your competitor grew 200 percent. And why set yourself up for those kinds of difficult feelings? You know in your heart that you're massively outpacing everyone. And that's all you need to know.
Demand only good news
Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, and we all want to be appreciated for our efforts and hard work. What's the point of doing all this work to not be the leader? So if your agency -- or anyone, for that matter -- tries to pretend like you're not crushing your marketplace, close the browser, or burn the printed report immediately. You don't want that kind of bad energy in your office, let alone in your mind.
Delegate social media only to the young -- and then don't support them
After all, if you can eat a pizza, you can make a pizza, so it makes sense to give social media over to the digital natives. Any one of them will do. They grew up on Facebook so they will know how to market your 100-year-old brand without any training, guidelines, or strategy. A no-rules policy inspires creativity and honesty, leading to gems like this.
And if you can't hand social over to a Millennial, you can just make it someone's second job and see what happens. How much time could social media require, anyway? It's not like there's over a billion people on it or anything.
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