Pitfalls of Social Media to Watch Out For

Social Media is no longer a choice for marketers. Marketers are constantly increasing their budgets for social media presence and trying to leverage this to best connect with their consumers. Many marketers believe Social Media is low risk and high reward channel owing to its lower costs. However, brands can come down to social mediocrity if they are not wary of following 4 pitfalls that will increase the risk and lower the reward.

(A)   Forcing Traditional Metrics on Social Media

Social Media has evolved a lot since its introduction and might continue its evolution. It is not a one-size-fits-all channel, and allows for unprecedented interaction with customers. Because of these factors, standard metrics typically used for traditional channels does not apply to social media. It requires using evolved metrics: a customized approach to measurement using a mix of non-traditional metrics such as sentiment, engagement, effectiveness and brand affinity that are linked to key performance indicators (KPIs).

For social media, one cannot use the traditional models of measuring the ROI such as the ones used in television which have been established over time. This is because such traditional models do not account for changes in dynamic environment of social media. A smarter approach is to identify the KPIs and build a custom dashboard of metrics based on objectives and goals.

(B)   Culture Clash

In this age of internet, consumers expect to have an engagement with brands 24×7. Marketers need to foster to this culture of always ‘on’ world. This require cutting down the red tape and having the right people and systems in place to not only provide faster reaction times but also authentic responses and genuine engagements. With failure to align with this kind of expectations, the brands risk facing consumer backlash.

United Airlines uses Twitter to connect with customers online and to build a reputation as being customer-centric. The content tweeted includes special fares, trivia, and contest information. However, United fails to consistently respond to consumer complaints or questions via its Twitter account. Furthermore, United has a reputation as having poor customer service, a fact that was highly publicized during the “United Breaks Guitars” viral video incident. The weak presence on Twitter can’t cover up United’s failure to resolve systemic customer service issues. Marketers risk facing a backlash and turning social media efforts into a complete waste if culture and business practices do not support what is being said and done in social media.

(C)   Focusing on Short Term Wins instead of Long Term Engagements

Short term wins can be great for generating buzz and grabbing attention for your brand. But to create long term engagement, one needs to put the customers at the center of the strategy and provide something relevant and useful to keep them coming back i.e. screening will be done by the customers after every signaling. Marketers must understand how and where customers want to interact with their brand in order to add value. The social media should create pull instead of the push strategy.

Eg: Burger King is constantly on a quest to beat out rival McDonald’s. By launching highly creative (and sometimes controversial) campaigns, they have been successful at generating buzz and drawing attention to the brand. However, results are only short term and fail to achieve real long-term engagement with the brand and grab market share from McDonald’s.  A prime example is the 2009 Whopper Sacrifice on Facebook. While the Whopper Sacrifice stunt received lots of media coverage, just around 82,000 Facebook users participated and only about 23,000 users actually sacrificed enough friends to qualify for the promotion (to be fair, Facebook forced Burger King to disable the app). There are hundreds of consumer-created Burger King groups and fan pages on Facebook (the largest has over 200,000 fans). If Burger King knew its customers were active on Facebook, then the strategic idea would have been to take control of the brand’s presence and provide a central outlet (ie, Burger King fan page) to engage with fans through relevant content, not callow stunts.

(D)   Being Trendy Instead of Strategic

Social media discussions shouldn’t start off with “we need to be on social media.” It’s necessary to understand why you want to be on social media to ensure that you’re making a strategic move for your brand, not a trendy one. It’s a marketer’s responsibility to figure out which platforms are right for both the brand and the consumer. If this isn’t done correctly you risk becoming a social media/branding/financial fail – your consumers may not accept it positively and even turn on the brand if it feels too fake. Through social media, marketers should channel all the passionate brand loyalty into something productive: feedback, promotions, contests, etc. The key to doing this is focusing on strategic engagement, not jumping on the bandwagon.


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