You’ve listened, put together a solid strategic plan, spent time selecting the right services, and then worked hard to implement a social media program. But after months of toiling away, the results aren’t there: no one has become a fan of your Facebook Page, you only have a handful of Twitter followers, and your blog is collecting dust.
Then, what? Does it mean that social media has been a failure and a waste of time? Should you just walk away, and focus your time, effort and people on other projects?
The answer is “maybe” but not before conducting an audit of your social media activities to discover what went wrong and why.
This exercise, which might involved some external help, will provide insight into whether strategic or tactical mistakes were made that contributed to social media not doing what it was expected to do.
The problems could include:
1. Unrealistic strategic goals. Many companies buy into the “if you build, they will come” approach to social media. They think that by embracing social media, it will automatically attract a lot of people. This belief is skewed by the success of a small number of companies such as Starbucks and Ford, which have millions of fans/followers. Too many people forget, however, these success stories are anomalies or outliers.
2. Selecting the wrong social media services. Just because Facebook has more than 450 million users doesn’t mean it works for every company. A key consideration for most companies when they explore getting into social media is having a handle on where their customers and potential customers spend their time online, and what, if any, social media services, they are using. You have to fish where they’re biting, which may mean not using Facebook because your customers aren’t there.
3. A failure to execute tactically. The easy part of social media is listening and creating a strategy; the difficult part is working social media on daily basis. It’s grunt work and a lot of blocking and tackling. It involves investing a lot of hours to build relationships, engage with people and participate in conversations. In other words, it is more than just diligently tweeting or posting to a Facebook Wall. If not enough time or effort is invested, the results won’t happen.
4. The lack of engaging good creative content. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, et al are tools that need to be fuelled by content to make them resonate with users. Whether it is contests, photos, videos, compelling stories or polls, content helps make social media sink or swim.
By exploring these areas, companies can get a better idea about why social media didn’t work. This will provide them with insight into what needs to be tweaked or perhaps overhauled to improve their social media efforts.
It may be that a few strategic, tactical or content changes will make a huge difference. Or it could be that these changes don’t work. Then, a company can determine whether it’s time to walk away from social media armed with the knowledge that it wasn’t for a lack of effort.