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7 Ways Companies FAIL With Social Media Marketing, by Brad Hines 10-16-12

social media fail

Although not the worst thing a company can do with their social media campaign, the most common problem is when a company thinks they can just show up. Major companies-think fortune 500- consistently screw this up. They open up Twitter account and Facebook page and think it will be a kind of marketing cure-all, and or instant success for them. The reality is, that too often they under post, under engage, and are even creepy or off putting with those posts by failing to literally put a face behind them.

Failing to show up at all

Too many companies think they are in a field unrelated to social media or that they can't be benefited from it. I don't care if you run a funeral home, a biochemical engineering firm or anything in between; there is a social media plan that should be made for the marketing department. No one is exempt.

Thinking they can just show up

Companies still fail by putting their corporate logo up as their Twitter picture. This just seems
Comcast Melissa
cold and "corporate" to followers. A smart move is for the company to assign an actual marketing staff member, and have them control the account, with their face literally emblazoned beneath the logo within the Twitter or Facebook picture. An almost famous example now of doing this properly is "Comcast Melissa."

Or, companies, often fail to engage by merely posting what I call "here's-our-crap-come-buy-it" posts. Those style posts embitter followers over time, especially if they are not devout fans. A digital marketing plan needs to outline posts and shares that include the stories behind your products and services, the people behind the company, asking the customers questions, requesting photos and stories from them, offering incentives, offering contests and more. Do anything but mere advertisement-style shares, include those very infrequently or only for something really special, the way Apple announces a product release for example. Trying to do all of the aforementioned with humor and a human touch is critical.

Failing to show up in the right places

Companies seem to default to Twitter and Facebook, and countless leave money on the table by not knowing the other networks they should be on, whether it be the ever-growing Google Plus as a Facebook counterpart, finding employees on LinkedIn, die hard photo-loving fans on Pinterest, making a great YouTube channel, or using countless other niche oriented social media networks.

Engaging with the wrong "little guy", the wrong way

  "Public customer complaints can become a spectacle in less than 24 hours."

Public customer complaints can become a spectacle in less than 24hours. Marketing and PR departments need to learn literally who to answer, and who to ignore in the complaint-o-sphere. Sometimes sparring with someone on Twitter about their upset with your company makes matters worse. "Take the fight outside" by direct messaging them on Twitter for example, or whatever you have to do privately to shut them up. One bad review on Yelp can wreak havoc sometimes. Which leads me to:

Failing to stay abreast of and be reactive to your online reputation within social networks

The funny thing about social media-and by funny I mean scary- is that the larger and more talked about that your company is, the more likely you will already have a social media presence whether you like it or not. It will belong to your customers. United, Dominoes, and Motrin are 3 companies that sat on their hands as they became a social media punch line and PR fiasco. Remember how Dominos had that video leaked of their employee putting the cheese up his nose? Well when that sort of thing goes viral on YouTube, knowing about social media suddenly seems a good idea. For this, I highly recommend companies use Skweal- a startup that tracks a companie's brand mentions- or put out a Google Alert for both yourself and your competitor. Also, Twitter and most social networks have great search features to see what folks are saying about you in real time. Find these thorns-in-your-side early and you can manage your proverbial oil leak before it becomes a BP sized spill. See what I mean? ; )

Not having your website as the central hub

It is important that you make your website your hub for social media, that is, that all other social media profiles be based on it visually, and linked from it. Also, too many companies fail by neglecting to push their own website in their campaign, and instead promote Facebook page or the like with the precedence. Do make those social media profiles an extension of your website presence, remember, your site is your original social media base!


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Brad Hines YumDomainsAbout the author: Brad Hines is the president of, the founder of, and an Internet analyst and digital media strategist. He is a writer who typically writes about internet and business trends, and sometimes health. He can be followed on Twitter: @BradHines





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