September 11, 2016

Rachel Strella

Social Media Marketing: The #1 Mistake Businesses Make

social media marketingI was recently asked to identify the #1 mistake businesses make with their social media marketing. I can think of dozens of mistakes. It all depends on the type of business and the structure of the company. However, there is one mistake I see time and time again – so often, that I am compelled to label it the #1 mistake and that is… delegating social media to ‘so-and-so’ who can ‘handle it.’

For the record, I’m not just talking about the overdone example of tasking the intern with social media management. I do see this a lot and it can be potentially damaging, but it depends on the circumstances.

What I am referencing goes deeper than delegating social media to the stereotypical young person. In fact, what I’ve witnessed is two-fold.

Allow me to paint a picture of how this works. The company president decides to pursue social media. He realizes that so-and-so may not have the expertise to create a social media plan for the company. So, he reaches out social media companies to gather proposals. If he meets with a company like mine, he’ll be asked some questions including: Who will maintain the day-to-day efforts, once a strategy is formulated? This is where I see people scratch their heads, as a lot of companies assume that social media wouldn’t require much maintenance once the plan was in place or that so-and-so could handle it.

When I submit my proposal, I include costs for the strategy, but I also list the costs for management, should they decide to hire our company to execute the day-to-day efforts. Depending on the situation, I may even offer estimated number of hours for experienced and in-experienced in-house social media managers to execute the strategy. The numbers are surprising to most people.

This is when the first scenario plays out.  The president, shocked by the numbers to maintain the plan, now wonders if they really need a dedicated person – or even a social media strategy, at all. Whatever his reason was for pursuing social media, he now realizes that it’s going to require more resources than he anticipated – either time, money and/or people. This is when the president decides to table the social media discussion until a fill-in-the-blank-event occurs. In this manner, he doesn’t really make a decision. He only postpones it. Meanwhile, the company social media presence is sparse or non-existent.

The second scenario is what we see most often. While the president asked for a social media strategy, he didn’t consider the resources to maintain it. He wonders if we tried to upsell him on our management services. How hard could it be, right?  As a result, he decides to task so-and-so with the execution of the plan. I’ve witnessed this delegation to likely candidates such as the marketing coordinator, the assistant, the receptionist, and yes – even the intern.  I’ve also seen social media given to the sales team, the web developer, the staff accountant, even the CFO. In some cases, business owners or company leaders are ambitious enough to recruit themselves as the person who will handle the efforts. In smaller companies, I’ve been told that the wife, neighbor, or son can handle it. (*SMH*)

Common theme of both scenarios? A lack of dedicated resources to social media marketing. Common outcome of both scenarios? Social media marketing is not employed or it is ineffectively employed.

If the latter, there is a conscious effort for a few weeks, but that’s replaced with sparse, non-relevant, posts. Sometimes it dissolves altogether and there’s a barren page for years. This is not hearsay – it’s what I see in the majority of these scenarios.

The end result is no result. No goals are met, no metrics achieved. Not even a benchmark, if one was ever established. A business must dedicate the proper resources in order to achieve results.  To be effective, ‘so-and-so’ cannot ‘handle it.’

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