Social Media Stumbles and Blunders

The learning curve. From early adoption to deep familiarity, we all go through this process when encountering a new concept or operation.

Brand use of social media is no different. For every dramatic success story like the Old Spice Guy or the Groupon/Gap collaboration, there are a million stories in the naked city about brands that are falling flat on their social media faces.

While this is all part of the learning curve, it is unfortunate that the failures tend to perpetuate the myth that social media is (take your pick) a) a fad; b) not right for my brand; c) for the young folks; d) not where my customers, or e) all of the above.

Recently, I came across a study from the Brand Science Institute called ‘Why Social Media Projects Fail.’ This is based on a survey of 563 marketers of 52 brands in Europe.

The findings will astound you.  Here are some highlights:

81% of all companies don’t have a clear social media strategy – You wouldn’t embark on a TV or print or direct marketing campaign without a strategy. Why is social media any different? It isn’t. Social media is merely a different platform for reaching your audience. It has different rules of engagement than other platforms but it is still just a platform. Make sure you know your goals before you start.

87% had to correct their social media expectations – One of the first things I tell my clients – after ‘design a strategy’ – is to manage their expectations. Most brands are used to the stimulus-response curve of marketing. Run an ad and the phone rings. Social media is not as cause-and-effect oriented. Social media takes time to ferment and produce results. This is ok because social media is also cheaper to set up and maintain than other marketing platforms.

84% compare social media performance with standard media measures – The social media ROI debate rages on. Again, different platforms require different measurements because they perform differently over time. Logically, no one would use the same metrics to compare print with TV. However, they would use similar metrics.  Social media is a game changer and requires an entirely new and different perspective.

75% don’t moderate social media projects effectively (if at all) – Yikes! Social media is all about the conversation. If you aren’t listening, commenting, replying – you might as well not be there.

Only 7% understand the CRM value of social media – A logical follow-up to the above point. Social media is about engaging your customers in an immediate – and transparent – way.

86% don’t have a clue how to handle a social media backlash – People talk but they don’t always have nice things to say. Target was caught in a flap after a campaign donation. (see: Target’s (belated) Response) More currently, JetBlue’s response to the Steve Slater incident showed that a company with a social media plan will effectively navigate a stormy situation.

Only 4% share their social media experience throughout the company – Did someone forget to tell them this is SOCIAL media? Guess they were too busy surfing You Tube.

Keep in mind that this study focused on larger companies and brands. Organizations that have the infrastructure, the manpower and the budgets to – theoretically – do social media right.

In baseball, the bigger teams like the Yankees or Red Sox can afford large mistakes because they have the revenue to recover from those blunders. So, too, do large corporations. A failed social media campaign is a step in the process for them – not the end of the game.

You don’t have that luxury. Your resources are precious and limited. You want to get it as right as possible as quickly as possible.

Fortunately for you the big guys are paving the road with their missteps.

Take advantage.

Your thoughts?

Steve Allan

Social Media Specialist



About Steve Allan

I am a Social Media specialist uniquely focused on the management, messaging and marketing of social media platforms for non-profits and small businesses.
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