Social Media Fails

You’ve got the great ideas for your company’s social media campaign, and we’re not talking about throwing together a Facebook profile or sending your first tweet, and calling that a web presence. As you turn your ideas into a successful social media presence, avoid a few major missteps that could crash your otherwise-amazing campaign.

Cutting a vital corner. A company hired a brilliant PR consultant to develop a company brand, hired a brilliant graphic designer to create a logo and cohesive site style, and hired a brilliant social media consultant to share that brand across platforms. Then, the company outsourced their customer service hotline to the lowest bidder. Would-be customers were brought to the brand by the successful campaigns, but were then connected with apathetic second-language employees. They didn’t remember the gorgeous logos on the popular Facebook page after their telephone frustrations.

I know, the economy sucks. You’re a start-up. Another department ran over budget. You don’t have a lot of cash, and you need to save money. But if a company invests in 90% of a great campaign, and then outsources the rest to the lowest bidder, it’s the amateurish goofs that are remembered longer.

Allow enough time. You build a great site, target a list of potential customers, and craft a clever invitation inviting them to your amazing product launch. But the invites go out on Monday, and your launch is Wednesday. Despite the awesome campaign, your product launches to scanty list of contacts. And this goes double — no, triple — for a physical event. If you don’t allow time invitees to hear about your event and plan accordingly, you’ll be launching in an empty room.

A campaign for a fantastic event was brilliantly targeted, but the started just two weeks before the event. The vast majority of invitees would have been interested in attending, but sent genuine regrets.

Too exclusive. The red velvet rope works for nightclubs, but invite-only can also backfire badly.

A new website offered an exclusive launch by sending a password to a list of print journalists. Interested bloggers missed out, and even contributors to the site couldn’t see their work, add it to their portfolios, or promote their own articles and artwork. By keeping things exclusive, site owners forced away possible press by making sure that interested bloggers couldn’t share related articles. Contributing writers and artists were unable to promote their own work, and therefore, the main site.

Missing your target Oh, that last example about the invite-only site launch? That was a launch for a World of WarCraft-related site. Excluding games bloggers from a game site forced away potential blogbuzz, an especially valuable outlet for online gamers, and worked against any community building.

The great event, with a last-minute invite? That was an event for bartenders in New York City. A last-minute invitation is never a great idea, but it’s especially thoughtless for a demographic who work nights and love nightlife.

In retrospect, it seems obvious that excluding games bloggers from a WarCraft-related launch or expecting Manhattan bartenders to have a clear schedule isn’t going to work. Make sure that you truly understand your target — or hire someone who does.

You already know some great ways to target potential customers or potential buzz based on different demographics. Make sure you fully consider who your customers are and how they’d like to receive information. If your customers are on Tumblr, get on Tumblr. If your customers hate email, don’t expect them to sign up for your newsletter.

Fake Buzz Asking a satisfied customer to post a review on Yelp, Urbanspoon or another relevant community is great, but posting one yourself is worse than no review at all. A pretend customer review, a ghostwritten first-person blog post, or any other buzz that can be easily traced back to you just adds “desperate” and “shady” to your company brand.

All You, All The Time One client asked for social content for their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but lost huge opportunities for connections when they insisted that no outside links be shared. The brand had good intentions behind this gaffe. Their goal was to avoid any possible negative fallout from endorsing other sites, and it is good thinking to vet a site or factcheck a story before sharing. But social content needs to be, well, social, and by failing to retweet industry news, share interesting links and cross-promote with relevant sites, this brand lost many opportunities to connect.

This particular client was a movie property, and really had endless opportunities to stay topical and engaging by sharing cosplay photos, fans’ craft projects on Etsy, celeb gossip sites and so much more with their followers. They also lost potential RTs and shares, as fansites and related pop culture properties would be more inclined to share and retweet the movie’s news if the movie property had acknowledged their content.

Small-time Snubs. By now, every social media guru has pointed out that a successful campaign is all about connection and word of mouth. Snubbing small-time blogs or reviewers can only backfire. Sure, maybe they’ve only got six readers, but why buy six bad opinions of your product? You don’t have to send a review copy to everyone with a blogspot platform, but a polite response and an e-media kit ensures that your brand won’t be trashed.

Small blogs can present a bit of a no-win situation, since a good review will only reach the five dedicated readers while a blog bashing has legs, so turn them into a positive with blog-friendly press release and a bit of company swag. In the worse case scenario, you’ve just bought a low-PR incoming link. In the best, you’ve got a major fan when that blog or reviewer makes it bigger.

By paying attention to these common pitfalls, you’ll be able to build and grow a beloved brand!

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