ellipsis flag icon-blogicon-check icon-comments icon-email icon-error icon-facebook icon-follow-comment icon-googleicon-hamburger icon-imedia-blog icon-imediaicon-instagramicon-left-arrow icon-linked-in icon-linked icon-linkedin icon-multi-page-view icon-person icon-print icon-right-arrow icon-save icon-searchicon-share-arrow icon-single-page-view icon-tag icon-twitter icon-unfollow icon-upload icon-valid icon-video-play icon-views icon-website icon-youtubelogo-imedia-white logo-imedia logo-mediaWhite review-star thumbs_down thumbs_up

The 10 commandments for social media failure

The 10 commandments for social media failure Tania Yuki
iMedia's Best Content of 2014. You're seeing this article on our homepage again because it's part of iMedia's year-end best content roundup. We will return to our regular publishing schedule of original content on Jan. 5.

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.

Yuki Tania is founder and CEO at Shareablee.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Tania Yuki is founder and CEO of Shareablee, a leading provider of social content analytics for business. She has spent most of her career in digital marketing, measurement and analytics, and was recently honored with a Great Mind Award from the...

View full biography


to leave comments.

Commenter: Kimberlee Mulherin

2014, September 11

Reaching the wrong audience - We all know that Social doesn't move the dial in ways that are easy to calculate,k much less track path to purchase. What about when your target audience are heavy social users, but they aren't the purchasers? What happens when your target audience consumes your Social campaign, but it doesn't move the dial at all? One hurdle could be they are the consumer, but not the purchaser.

Encourage shares with incentives, for example, when using social for BTS or holiday campaigns. Make sure that you understand the implication of TWO targets - the eyes and the wallet may belong to two different people. Incentivize the eyes to get in front of the wallet! Don't blend your message so heavily that neither view it, but keep in mind - the teenager isn't buying the $250 shoes. The husband may not see the beautiful watch for the holidays. Keep mom and hubby in mind, too! Use Social to get to all targets - we are in multi-target land again, folks!