Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why your 2012 Social Media Strategy was a failure

For many people, the beginning of a new year provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of the previous year while taking what they've learnt to help them set goals for the new year. I've read a lot of blog posts which have documented the outstanding successes of several Social Media campaigns, but these are far from reality for your average marketer.  In fact, many marketing departments have delivered far from acceptable results and it's likely that senior company management is already considering bringing out the chopping block.

Here is my list of the top five behaviors which had a detrimental impact in 2012.

1. Social Media was being treated as 'experimental'.
I attended a number of Social Media events both here in New Zealand and overseas where I listened to panelists blurt out their secret strategies while proclaiming that Social Media was experimental for their organization.  In all their ranting and raving there was little or no mention of the alignment of their strategy with key business goals.  While, I do believe that their does need to be some experimentation, the results need to be measurable.

Return on Investment is a key driver for all CEO's.  They want to know that the money their spending is actually getting a measurable return.  I like the way that Sandy Carter puts it in her book 'Get Bold - Creating a Bold Social Media AGENDA' where she talks about IBM having a Return on Everything measurement.  Call it experimental or whatever you like, but management are wanting proof of a return.

2. Too much focus on what's not important.
Just bring up Facebook 'Likes' and Twitter 'Follows' and you'll spark off a grand debate with me.  For the record they are one of the worst metrics to use for success and are a big distraction.  It's a bit like advertising on television.  A television network sales person will usually bombard you with demographics and numbers of viewers on their network.  Just because they have the most viewers doesn't mean that you'll spend a dime with them.

Most Facebook 'Likes' are manipulated through the use of competitions to win vouchers etc.  Enticing people to 'Like' you is not an acceptable approach.  The fact is, they probably don't like you at all!

3. Ownership of Social Media by Marketing.
I've sat with senior executives in the board room while eye-balling their Chief Marketing Officer. There is often tension in the air as the marketing executive guards his/her territory. The brand.  Yes, they have a sense of owning it and are holding their organizations to ransom.  If your marketing team own the Social Media strategy then you've got a serious problem.  No, I'm not joking!

The brand is no longer owned by marketing, neither can the Social Media be.  Today, ownership of the brand has moved to two key groups of people, your employees and your customers.  It's your employees who give your brand a good or bad name and it's your customers who communicate their experiences. This is an area of your business which will need some focus and consideration in the year ahead.  Some ownership may need to be taken by Human Resources to implement a cultural transformation plan.  Who would have thought of Human Resources as a key player in a Social Media strategy?

4. Failure to walk the talk.
In October, I was asked to present a training course to a small group of about 12 people who represented a number of key New Zealand businesses.  I'm not one to assume anything, so at the beginning of the day, I tried to gauge the experience of the people in the room.  I asked everyone in the room who had a Facebook or Twitter account to raise their hand.  Expecting them all to do so, I was shocked to find that only a couple of people in the room did!  What? Had these people really been put in charge of Social Media within their respective businesses?

One of the ways that I learn the most, is to be personally active on Social Media.  I get to learn a lot about my behavioral patterns as wall as those of others.  For instance, I 'Like' a page on Facebook but find myself 'unliking' it just as quickly.  I find myself unfollowing  people on Twitter en masse to tune out of all the noise and chaos. Understanding why I do this helps me to understand others too.

5. No plan.
As the use of Social Media is evolving so will the maturity of businesses in their strategies and approach.  Moving forward, I have little doubt that management will be expecting to see holistic plans established for Social Media.  Plans which will cover off the alignment of Social Media with business goals, issues around social trust, enablement throughout the entire business, integration of Social Media with key process, risk and reputation management and the analytics and interpretation of the vast amounts of data generated.

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