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How to completely waste your budget on social media marketing

It’s not that easy to get social media marketing right.

Still, that doesn’t stop most companies from giving it a go without a solid strategy.

Having seen many of these attempts, where each and every step tend 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.

Here goes:

Round 1: First attempt at push marketing

The company realizes that the web is important and a huge and cheap opportunity. Their reaction is to start pushing their corporate messages in a variety of channels.

Round 2: First attempt at viral marketing

The company realizes that their stuff isn’t all that interesting. In most cases annoying, even. In order to increase engagement, they add share buttons and starts talking about “going viral.”

Round 3: Buying some online ads randomly

The company might give up on the notion of social and decides to push messages via digital advertising instead, because they can much more easily defend those investments internally.

Round 4: Trying this SEO thing for a while

The company realizes that people are actively coming to them in search of knowledge and assistance. So instead of pushing only their own 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 about the intersecting dimensions of public, personal, private and professional.

Round 7: All-in on organic publishing in social media

With a first sense of control, the company realises that their own 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. For early companies, the public reactions are sometimes welcoming, but the effect soon wears thin.

Round 9: Paying for some expensive social dashboards

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 these softwares are managed by junior staff with no or little analytical and statistical training.

Round 10: Trying some “wildly creative” online 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 push marketing and places a lot of hope in viral marketing. But the entertainment business is a tough one.

Round 11: Withdrawal from social networks

The company has really 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 slowly build a new structure.

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, but 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 realize that a strategy can’t be created without some ways of measuring the activities. They start to surf the web to find easy ways of measuring their activities but they soon realize that it takes more than a simple formula.

Round 16: Trying desperately to make sense of the data

At this point, the company starts aching for making sense of all that customer data out there. They turn to their own monitoring software and CRM systems, only to find that big data analysis is far more complex than they ever realized.

Round 17: Taking another stab at content marketing

Simultaneously, the company starts to realize that content must be created in a cheap way, but it must still live up to certain 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: Testing out online campaigns once again

With new fresh investments in content and campaigns, the push marketing paradigm is brought back into 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 realize that the users must be understood on a psychological level, otherwise, they have no shot at activating their social graphs. Now they’re starting to realize how their monitoring software should be utilized and how to start producing best practice processes.

Round 21: Asking a consultant to setup online processes

Now the company realizes 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 really interesting and powerful social media initiatives from the company.

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 the best practice processes to beat the competition in the online space and to drive sales.

Round 23: Prowling for digital talents to recruit

Measuring, qualified analysis, and creative quality are still very difficult and experts are once again consulted, but the company is quickly disappointed, wondering why theses 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 organization, both horizontally and vertically. The great paradox at this stage is that often IT department is hiding somewhere.

Round 25: Starting to get more things 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 organization to rather align their operations than 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 really 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 really doesn’t have to be that way.

If you’re rational, patient, and smart, then there’s no reason why you can´t get it right from the start.

Photo by David Guliciuc on Unsplash.


Avatar of Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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