For some reason, when companies decide to use social media, they just “have at it.” They start a Facebook or Twitter account or launch a blog and, without really thinking about it, they’re off to the races.
They think that because social media and social networking tools are easy to use, and because so many “experts” tell them to jump right in, that it’s a no brainer. This is how most brands fall into trouble. From the start they get poor results and don’t receive the feedback or interaction that they initially sought. At this point, discontent sets in and they say, “social media doesn’t work.”
This is the root of the problem, which I like to call, “social media haystacking.”
Social media haystacking is the process of adding social media activities to an already full schedule and then beginning to resent social media as yet “another thing you have to do.”
Think about a haystack or a pile of objects being formed. When that pile gets too high, the last thing that was added falls off. If social media is the most recent addition to your “to do” pile, it will be the first thing to come tumbling down.
The solution to haystacking is simple. Before you start using social media, take a look at your firm’s current marketing mix -- the handful of activities that your team does to market the company’s products and services. I guarantee something isn’t working. It might be direct mail, SEO, PPC/PPA or your email newsletter. Whatever it is, recognize that this marketing effort is not getting the results that you want. Use the time and energy that you were investing in that failed marketing strategy and reinvest it into social media efforts.
Another problem with the opportunities that social media provides is BSOS, otherwise known as Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. There are so many options for brands to get involved with social media -- Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (depending on the industry, MySpace is still a relevant platform), FourSquare, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts, video blogs, etc.
Often when a company encounters the social media smorgasbord, it perceives the services as a $9.99 buffet special and tries to add as much onto their plate as they possibly can. This is a bad idea. It's not a contest to see who can load the most on their plate and you'll end up spreading yourself too thin.
Take time to determine which tool or combination of tools will work best to help you reach your brand’s social media goals. Always make sure that your brand is present and has a solid foothold where your customers and clients are.