The 3 Social Mistakes You're Making, And What To Do About Them

Lately I’ve been spending time with brands looking to reach new heights in their social efforts. Here are three of the more common scenarios, which I hope help you think through your planning efforts.

1. Holding Out for A Big Launch

Quite often, marketers like to think about social as the way to get traditional assets distributed. This leads to questions like, “How do we make this campaign sharable?” Like surprise parties, these traditional campaign launches have a huge, bombastic opening. Also like surprise parties, they do not lead to people changing behavior, or wanting more surprise parties.

However, getting ahead of the launch in social changes the dynamics entirely. Think about creating editorial in social that tells the story of who is designing the campaign, what people are saying in research, what kinds of solutions you’re considering and how they apply to the lives of the people in the network. This approach gets people involved in the concepts, so that once the brand does launch the traditional assets, you have developed a culture of advocacy. Now people want to share that TV spot because they feel like they’re “on the inside” and that wide, earned distribution you’ve been hoping for now feels like a natural extension of your relationship instead of pleading for people to support a marketing effort.



2. Overly Focused on Functions of Purchase

Since the late ‘90s, marketing started gearing exclusively towards a model of tying any online action to the purchase. Clicking on an email and then clicking to purchase are functions of a system. Social media allows marketers to help people model the behaviors that fill in the gaps and support those technical functions.

This came up just yesterday, talking about increasing a foundation’s online pie purchases. The brand leader described what happens as a basic path: a person receives an email, clicks on the link, goes to the site, and buys a pie. That misses vital conversations social can help model. The options are endless – from enticing or celebrating spouses of pie lovers into the conversation to debating best pie flavors.

Next time you think through editorial, don’t just think about the moment the register rings, but the conversations that enable people to get the go-ahead to make that purchase. Those are very social moments.

3. Unprompted Behavior

A frequent brand desire in social goes something like, “I wish we got more [comments, shares, likes]!” But the answer is always the same: you get the behaviors you ask for.

This does not mean pandering to your audience along the lines of, “like if you’re a Beyonce fan, share if you’re a Gaga fan.” It also doesn’t mean always giving out coupons, or monthly sweepstakes – unless you want a network of people who love selling out their friends or winning sweepstakes. 

If you want followers who are customers and advocates who will effectively persuade their friends via endorsement, just look at your ideal followers’ habits in social media for content clues. Create the content that they want to use to represent themselves if shares are valuable. To receive comments, look at what stimulates response from them, and then use a similar structure in your own content writing. One method that seems useful across brands is “This or that,” construct. Think through what’s realistic to see in your response stream or in the streams of your followers, then reverse engineer the questions that lead to those answers.

The most common mistakes come from thinking that what works in other media works in social. Luckily, the answers are right in front of you, in the streams of the people who matter to your brand. Social media is fundamentally about helping people connect with each other. Help them have those conversations with better writing and design, and you’ll see exponential top- and bottom-line results at a fraction of the cost of those channels you’re trying to force fit.

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