Last week I compiled a big list of Social Media marketing mistakes. I asked each of our staff to contribute five or more, thinking there would be enough overlap to choose a top ten. Not so! Out of over 30 contributions, there were no exact matches, and, even when they were close, our approaches were a little different.
For instance, our Analytics Manager Erik Ricassa wrote that “experts” who don’t know what they’re doing think that “the only measure of success is the number of followers they have.” Da Li Social’s Search Marketing / Usability Manager Kim Berg shared this related take on follower numbers, “Some ‘experts’ think the number of people who ‘follow’ them is what counts, despite not knowing who those people are. Social is not a popularity contest.” Taken together, these two present a broader picture.
In this example, to say that having lots of followers is not “the only measure of success” brings in the importance of analytics – knowing what to measure and what denotes success. Saying “knowing who these people are” suggests in whole set of possible measurements and behaviors, and I’m not just talking clicks and retweets and screening out the spam bots.
My take on this list thing got a lot more philosophical than first intended.
Real Marketing Reaches People
My first goal as a Da Li SocialIM employee is to help us reach a client’s audience in the best possible way, and bad Social Media marketing does not get past surface statistics like follower numbers. It’s not that follower numbers are unimportant, taken in perspective. My point is that no matter how big the numbers, nothing happens in Social Media without taking user behavior into account. That’s what real marketing is about – exposure that reaches real people and facilitates the meeting of some user need.
An expert should show that they know what makes real people care, and how and where courting user action is appropriate and effective.
Characteristics of Bad Social Media Marketers
What follows are observations inspired from our list of Social Media marketing mistakes. My co-workers provided the information and this is my roundup. When I looked over our insights, a few characteristics popped up over and over. To my mind, the three most obvious are dishonesty, lack of business expertise and disrespect.
I like trust as a measure of quality. Dishonesty makes me wonder if trust is warranted, and I place a high value on the discernment that follows a good ponder.
Artificially inflated results are not difficult to buy or produce. Anything that can be faked is for sale. Tweets can be bought. Votes can be faked by proxy servers with randomly rotating IP addresses. To tell the difference, apply the human touch. Send a personal message and see if more than an autoresponder comes back. Check for customers who are getting more than clicks. What is the chatter? Are they happy? Confused? Look for conversations that look like they come from personal relationships. The digital technology of Social Media may be scammable, but real interaction is not.
The sorts of companies that guarantee results are often the same that will artificially inflate evidence of their own success, while failing to detail evidence of their client’s success. For example, a service may be able to sell 10,000 twitter users, but have those 10,000 users done a client’s sort of business any good? If not, can the “expert” tell why, and fix the problem? Do they care?
Lack of Expertise
Fake gurus tend to be one-dimensional. In Li Evans‘s words, they may “(give) strategy to clients that is exactly what worked for them, or what they give to every other client.”
Social Media Marketing is not a One Night Stand
Is an “expert” attempting to sell a one-off technique, with no long term strategy? Do they focus on cookie cutter techniques, with no awareness of how those techniques may relate to what is good for that specific client? You wouldn’t go to a drive-through car wash for an engine rebuild. Don’t go to a bot for “friends” and “followers.”
Limited or Ineffectual Strategies
You know the type. They use the words to sell the sizzle, but the steak does not materialize. Where the rubber meets the road there is no substance. As Erik put it, they “cannot explain how the company will engage in conversation,” and “cannnot correct failing campaigns or take no action to correct failing campaigns.”
Disrespect is a little foggier. We all know what being treated disrespectfully feels like, but exactly what it is will be different in different situations. You could say that justifying a Social Media campaign with meaningless statistics is disrespectful to the client, but here I’m talking about the user. Social Media is not about the marketer’s point of view. Ever. It’s about how users feel and behave, about resonating with users and therefor facilitating desirable exposure and desired actions.
Some of my pet peeves are about bad usability. Show me the respect of having a web site that works. Don’t force-feed popups. Don’t confuse me with links that go to unexpected places. Don’t ask me to join your “community,” only to find that the only participants are spam bots. Don’t give me a convenient “sharing” button to click on, only to discover that it doesn’t work correctly. Imperfections happen, but please don’t leave major interface problems unfixed.
I think spamming is very disrespectful. The more interactive a medium, the more intrusive bad marketing can be. Every opportunity to appear on a user’s screen is an opportunity to make a good impression. Squandering that opportunity is both short-sighted and self-involved, and good Social Media marketing cannot afford to be either.
Could users get the feeling the brains behind a campaign is trying to trick them into action? Would you tell your grandparents to take a campaign’s content seriously if it landed in their inbox?
Pretending to be Somebody Else
Now, I’m all for developing a persona that becomes a figurehead behind which a team can respond to customer needs. These symbolic “people” are not a bad idea. Consider Betty Crocker, a persona developed in response to flour-buying housewives writing in for recipes, or Flo, the figurehead who gives Progressive Insurance commercials such a friendly, approachable feel. A good persona gives real people a better way to connect. The great ones have staying power. Dishonest pretending is self-serving and disingenuous, faking being someone else in order to trick an audience into changing their beliefs, or to give the appearance of being popular.
The Right Stuff: Good Social Media Marketing
Underlying our list of warning signs there was a common sense of values.
The genuine article will hold themselves accountable. They will associate their real names with their public profiles and be reachable and responsive when asked to justify tactics. They won’t fall back on truisms. They will check facts and look at research.
Here at Da Li SocialIM, we’re big on research. If we suggest a specific sort of campaign, we’ve looked to see if your users are likely to be engaged by that campaign.
Experts can adapt to change. Experts will take into consideration differences in user behavior on various platforms. They stay current and have cross-disciplinary knowledge that helps to keep opinions in perspective. Are you having a disagreement about great graphics versus Search friendly text? Experts are good problem-solvers, able to incorporate diversity where appropriate.
Comfortable with Conversation
Kim says “Social networking and especially social marketing is person to person. Some “experts” are unable to handle online conversations. An expert that excludes online forums has not studied the art of conversation and online culture.”
Good social networking develops relationships that outlast a single campaign or sale. If the “expert” has a web site, is it all about them selling a one-off service, or do they also show signs of being able to manage and understand long term relationships?
Experts listen to clients. Is your “expert” focused on selling their own services? Tread lightly. Real experts don’t shy away from showcasing their skills, but their focus is on the success of clients.
This is how Da Li Social co-founder Li Evans puts it: “I want to show clients how powerful they are.”