10 Social Marketing No-No’s for Modern Marketers

Marketers contemplating social media are like kids at a candy buffet. With so many luscious and enticing options, how to decide what to consume before reaching gag level? At the Direct Marketing Association’s recent Integrated Marketing Week conference, Rapp’s Fritz Desir suggested that “Marketers should first ask themselves what to say ‘no’ to in social.” Sounded like a Modern Marketers list to us, so we asked Fritz to start us off and, like a Twitter string, others quickly chimed in. 

Social media experts say marketers should SAY NO TO… 

1.       Anything in social media without understanding how customers align with you. “It’s still surprising how many companies assume a reactionary or highly promotional posture in social without addressing the core human needs that lead people to a specific category and brand,” Desir says. “Understanding their perception will inform overall social media strategy and content. If you don’t understand it, say no. Consider it the starting line.”  

2.       Creating complicated experiences. “How long does it take for your audience to understand what you’re talking about?” asks Jack Macleod, GM of MXM Social. “Every additional hoop you ask your audience to jump through reduces the volume who will engage.” 

3.       Asking for something with nothing in return. “Marketers talk relationships with brands, but for most people it’s more of a nodding acquaintance, so don’t ask for participation with nothing in return,” advises Tom Morton, head of strategy at Goody Silverstein & Partners. “P&G once spent millions inviting people with gorgeous flowing Pantene-washed hair to film and upload it. Hardly anyone did.”

4.       Talking about yourself. “Nobody likes people who talk about themselves all the time. Same goes for brands. Behave like you do in real social situations,” says Marcus Fischer, president and chief strategy officer at Carmichael Lynch. “Not every interaction in social media should push people to your site or to a commerce engine. Sometimes listen. Sometimes learn.”

5.       Being on every social network. “Pick three or four key social networks where your customers, partners, and vendors are actively involved and focus on those,” counsels Media Whiz SVP Daryl Colwell. “Most companies don’t have the resources to properly devote robust profiles on every major social network. Leave the others for the social media ‘gurus.’”

6.       Going ‘external” without going ‘internal.’ “Many brands run into difficulty—especially at the content development level—because internal departments aren’t sure what they’re getting from the company’s social campaigns,” Desir says. “If there’s one rule of thumb, it is to start small and claim—as in publicize—all easy victories. When applied correctly, social media can feed internal inspiration as much as it can speed external communication.”

7.       Creating any video content more than 30 seconds long. “The momentous shift to mobile computing has consumers scrolling over content at the speed of culture,” observes MRY CEO Matt Britton. “The notion of short-form content keeps getting shorter and brands need to take heed.”

8.       An over-reliance on contests. “Contests can be effective when done right, but the strongest companies use them selectively and sparingly,” Macleod says. “If your social media strategy is too dependent on contests, you run the risk of attracting temporary engagement from freebie-seekers instead of long-term engagement from your actual target market.”

9.       Going in too soon. “Social media is news driven. When a tragedy such as a storm or a shooting occurs, people have overriding priorities: find out what’s happened, then check in and commiserate with loved ones,” Morton says. “A dumb social promotion that pops up in people’s feed along with news of a tragedy is worse than irrelevant: it’s an intrusion. Your automated content calendar can wait for a day.” 

10.   Using social media as a dumping ground for orphan campaigns. “Too often social media is positioned as a [magic] bullet. It becomes the dumping ground for marketing plan elements that don’t have a home elsewhere,” Fischer says. “Social media is one of many tools. Use it appropriately.”


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