When Social Media is a Bad Idea

(1043)

Despite the popularity of social media marketing, it’s not right for everybody. For many businesses, social media will not make a whole lot of sense. For some, it may even be harmful. The problem is that these businesses don’t immediately realize it, and will continue pushing for social media and dig themselves into a deeper and deeper hole.

If you’ve ever been unsure about social media, perhaps now would be an excellent chance to take a long, hard look at what you’ve been doing and see if it’s right for you. Do any of the statements below apply to you?

You Don’t Have the Expertise

Be honest. How much experience have you had marketing using social media? Using social networks for personal use isn’t the same thing, and many executives make that wrong assumption. Your social media branding effort needs a firm and experienced hand in order to be effective. You wouldn’t hire some random person off the street to sell your products, right? So neither should you assign the role to anyone with a Facebook profile and expect them to do well. And this also applies to yourself, too. You might think that you’ll be able to do a good job, but unless you’ve got strong social media experience then your view is probably biased.

It’s best to look for experienced social media marketers to fulfill the role, either on a contractual basis or as a permanent part of your marketing team. They’ll be more familiar with popular social media platforms and their communities, what is appropriate for each, and where you fit in that. Also, they’ll be able to tell you the current viral trends and what you can do to ride the wave.

You Can’t Do It Consistently

Like a traditional advertising campaign, you need to be consistently active in social media in order to build your presence. Posting a status on your wall once every couple of months isn’t going to get you very far. You might have perfectly good reasons why this is so: maybe you’re too busy and don’t have the time to publish anything. Maybe updates come only rarely, and there is no relevant news. If that’s the case, then maybe it’s not the right time for you to be doing social media.

Pick up social media only when you have the time and resources to do it consistently. A strong audience is built over time, and lapses in your social media presence will cause that growth to stall or even drop off if there is too much of a delay in between posts.

You Have Nothing Useful To Say

As an addendum to the previous point, try to only release social media posts that your users will find valuable or interesting. This has a far better chance of attracting followers than posting random photos and status messages that don’t actually matter. The only exception is if being fun, off the wall, and irreverent is part of your brand’s personality. If that’s the case, then by all means, post those funny pictures! Just make sure you throw in things actually related to your brand once in a while.

Also, make sure you change things up and vary your messages. Don’t spam the same message over and over. That’s the fastest way to lose followers, as many customer surveys have shown. Customers find it annoying, and will have no qualms about cutting you off to end the flow of spam. Instead, set up an editorial calendar and plan out your messages in advance. That way you can vary your messages and release them in a timely manner.

Your Customers Aren’t There

Some industries just aren’t built for Facebook. Strictly B2B industries like steel production and lumber have minimal social media presence, and spending lots of time on Facebook might be a waste of electrons. Instead, focus on social media networks where they actually are: LinkedIn perhaps, or certain community forums. Research your industry and see how your customers are getting the information they need. If social media isn’t a part of that, then don’t force the issue.

You Can’t Take Bad Feedback

The Internet is pretty much an open book. Everyone can see anything, and say anything; that includes things that you might not want aired. Disgruntled employees and dissatisfied customers will be able to voice their gripes online where everyone else can read it. If you’re not prepared to handle that, then the situation can quickly spiral into a public relations nightmare. If you’re thin-skinned, then you’re better off staying away from social media.

If you think you can take it, then more power to you. You can just brace yourself and hope for the best, however. It’s a good idea to put some procedures in place for when you do get the inevitable “bad apple”. Imagine some potential issues that might pop up, and list down some ideas for how to address it. This way, whoever’s doing your social media (it’s not you, is it?) will have some guidelines to fall back on and can respond to the bad feedback in a timely manner, before it escalates out of control.

You’re Doing it “Just Because”

Marketing can often descend into a game of “keeping up with the Joneses” as you try to ape the success of your competitors. You know what I’m talking about: Competitor A has a popular Facebook page, so you try to build something similar. Competitor B has a popular Twitter account, so you set one up too and tweet similar things. Unfortunately, this is going about social media the entirely the wrong way.

Before you even start an account, you have to come up with a strategy — or at least a plan—for your social media. It doesn’t have to be lofty or ambitious, but you do have to set some goals in order to focus your efforts. This will give your social media manager (whoever that will be) some direction and set some expectations on what they are supposed to accomplish.