Social media marketing budgets are often wasted.
Still, that doesn’t stop most companies from giving it a go without a solid strategy.
Having seen many of these attempts, where each step tends to cost lots of money, I wanted to compile a list of typical mistakes that are often being made in sequence before the company starts getting things right.
Round 1: First Attempt at Push Marketing
The company realises that the web is essential and a vast and cheap opportunity. Their reaction is to start pushing their corporate messages in various channels.
Round 2: First Attempt at Viral Marketing
The company realises that their stuff isn’t all that interesting. In most cases, annoying, even. They add share buttons and talk about “going viral.”
Round 3: Buying Some Online Ads Randomly
The company might give up on social media and decide to push messages via digital advertising instead because they can more easily defend those investments internally.
Round 4: Trying Some SEO Stuff for a While
The company realises that people are actively searching for knowledge and assistance. So instead of pushing only their messages, the company now resorts to SEO to gather as much incoming traffic as possible.
Round 5: Publishing Stuff on the Website Again
When the ads fail, the company might go for the long tail instead; people are searching for a wide array of topics, and the only way to get in front of potential clients is to put way more stuff out there.
Round 6: Back to Basics with Some Guidelines and Policies
With the acceptance of the social media world, things are starting to become complex. The first questions arise not about revenue and sales but the intersecting dimensions of public, personal, private and professional.
Round 7: All-In on Organic Publishing in Social Media
With the first sense of control, the company realises that their site isn’t nearly enough. They “need to be where their customers are”, and with their new guidelines, the company distributes their presence on a wide array of public social platforms.
Round 8: Trying to “Engage” with People Online
With their newfound presence on the social web, the company puts their guidelines into play and starts individually interacting on the social web. The public reactions are sometimes welcoming for early companies, but the effect soon wears thin.
Round 9: Investing in New and Expensive Social Tools
Often as a way of safeguarding their resource spend on conversational investments or as a consequence of being accessible, the company subscribes to expensive monitoring software. Often this software is managed by junior staff with little analytical and statistical training.
Round 10: Spending the Entire Social Media Marketing Budgets on “Creative Campaigns”
At this point, the company is spending a lot of budget on digital, and in an attempt to save their investments, they once again resort to pushing marketing and place a lot of hope in viral marketing. But the entertainment business is a tough one.
Round 11: Withdrawal from Social Networks
The company has taken a beating at this point. The evangelists are looking for somewhere to hide, and all those I-told-you-so gets back into power. Their first course of action is to mount everything thing down.
Round 12: Trying to Make Money Online Instead
After a while, other people within the company are starting to see the potential within digital. But they want to use the web to make more money for the company. They understand that success always has a baseline in operations, and they start to build a new structure slowly.
Round 13: Falling in Love with Online Sales
The company now wants to make sense, and they see possibilities in being of service to their customers and prospects. Exciting CRM programs are starting to take shape, as well as the occasional web service platform.
Round 14: Trying the Social Media Thing Again
The company already has one or two or three social media presentations stashed away on their corporate server. Still, at this point, they start to see the need for a social media strategy created from a business perspective and based on business objectives.
Round 15: Starting to Accumulate All Online Data
The company falls hard on their back as they realise that Organisations can’t create a strategy without measuring the activities. They start to surf the web to measure their activities efficiently, but they soon realise it takes more than a simple formula.
Round 16: Trying Desperately to Make Sense of Data
At this point, the company starts aching for making sense of all that customer data out there. They turn to their monitoring software and CRM systems, only to find that extensive data analysis is far more complex than they ever realised.
Round 17: Taking Another Stab at Content Marketing
Simultaneously, the company realises that we must create content cheaply but still live up to specific standards. And the content needs to be created not only monthly or quarterly but all the time. And their fans, who are now starting to add up, are always hungry for more.
Round 18: Trying Online Campaigns Once Again
With new fresh investments in content and campaigns, the push marketing paradigm is brought back to life. Having just the pull audience isn’t enough, so the companies are now investigating new ways of reaching out, like influencer collaborations and advanced seeding strategies.
Round 20: Preaching About “User-Centric” Online Strategies
The company starts to realise that we must understand the users psychologically. Otherwise, they have no shot at activating their social graphs. Now they’re starting to realise how we should utilise their monitoring software and start producing best practice processes.
Round 21: Asking a consultant to setup online processes
Now the company realises that the guidelines that they already have are nothing but crap. They need processes, so they are starting to develop internal programs for keeping ahead. We are now starting to see some exciting and powerful social media initiatives.
Round 22: Looking at Competitors and Getting Stressed Out
The company now reaches a level of proficiency where all past sins are forgotten. The C-Level now only cares about leveraging the knowledge and best practice processes to beat the online space competition and drive sales.
Round 23: Prowling for Junior Digital Talents to Recruit
Measuring, qualified analysis, and creative quality are still complicated, and experts are again consulted. Still, the company is quickly disappointed, wondering why these experts linger at the early stages of the evolution?
Round 24: Now, Everyone Should be on Social Media
The company is now starting to integrate social media initiatives into more and more parts of the organisation, horizontally and vertically. The great paradox at this stage is that often the IT department is hiding somewhere.
Round 25: Starting to Get More Stuff Right than Wrong
As the positive effects become more and more apparent for the company, the constant flow of knowledge derived from analytics helps the organisation align instead of trying to persuade the outside world to change their minds.
Okay, so what’s the point here?
The point is that I’ve seen so many organisations waste so much time and so much money on their digital transformation process. And all of this could’ve been prevented if the organisation had taken its time to figure out how to take advantage of digital in a way that makes sense for their business. If you recognise going through rounds upon rounds with trial-and-error, then I hate to tell you — it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re rational, patient, and strategic, then there’s no reason why you can’t get it right from the start.