They say you learn something new everyday...
And one of the things I recently learned was a new oxymoron: a social media budget.
Because in most companies, it simply doesn't exist. They expect Fans, Followers, Likes and Pins to fall from the sky.
But that's not the worst part...
No, the worst part is when you see how companies actually spend a social media budget if they have it.
Because most of the time it's wasted on vanity metrics and hot trends.
And the problem typically resides with the HIPPOs (highest paid person's opinion), because the highest paid person is also (usually) the least knowledgeable and furthest away from the front-lines.
Here are three of the worst ways that companies waste money in social media.
Money Waster #1: Squandering Your Offline Resources
We're hip deep into Q4 and retailers are scurrying to uncover every last bit of revenue. In the midst of this commercial revelry, the marketing world has been hit with a controversial bombshell, from the venerated Forrester Group. The punch to the gut is that the mother lode of new marketing – Social Media, is a bust. All you social media consultants move your collective feet back from the ledge because, I disagree—kinda.
In a controversial Forrester article that has eCommerce executives driving their 5 Series to a Thelma and Louise crescendo concludes that social media marketing efforts generate an anemic, less than one percent of new or repeat sales. Most executives I've talked to would have wagered their beloved 5 Series that the number is closer to 20%.
I won't bore you with the litany of statistics included in the article, but the long and short of it is new customers are like cloistered monks that prior to handing over the AmEx, do their independent research, busily typing URLs or staring blankly at a billboard during the daily hour long commute.
Additionally, repeat purchasing monks dutifully wait for their e-mail inbox to influence how they are to barter their honey mead.
I will not deny that there is no replacement for independent research prior to a purchase. But one cannot convince me that less than one percent of buyers are not influenced about what Dad says about a car, what Bob "the neighbor" says about his new 3D television or what your best friend says about the newest hand bag in whatever media they choose.
Brands are expected to have opinions on social media. After all, that's the whole point, right? To humanize your brand and show that it has its own personality?
That said, brands are not people, and they shouldn't behave like them. That means that some of the contentious things that people discuss with their networks on social media -- the topics that end up sparking the most heated conversations -- aren't the ones that brands should be adding their two cents on. And they certainly shouldn't be making clever little quips about serious matters.
Sometimes it's hard for a social media manager to resist capitalizing on the latest trending topic. But brands don't have to -- and frankly shouldn't -- weigh in on every big news item of the day. In many cases, they're just inviting a wave of unfriending and backlash when they tackle certain topics.
Here are the topics that social media managers should avoid if they want to avoid high blood pressure. You'd think some of these would be obvious. But apparently they're not.
This one is hard for a lot of social media managers to accept, especially during election seasons and when major political news breaks overseas. After all, everyone is talking about it on Facebook and Twitter. So the brands should too, right?
Football season, as you know, is well underway. America's favorite sport has a death grip on our television sets once again.
Certainly you have found yourself sitting in your favorite chair, shouting profanity at your favorite team's coaching staff for their decisions. While they generally don't hear your pleas, you have the opportunity to act like a coach for your business.
Think of your business's online marketing like a football team. You need a philosophy, a strategy, a collection of tactics that you can use to ensure success. Every football team has "bread and butter" plays, as well as some trickery. A statue of liberty play doesn't work every time you hit the field, but it doesn't hurt to throw one in there every now and again.
So what will be the strategy for your online marketing? Let's go to the chalk board.
In thinking of what would be a good topic for me to cover in the latest blog post, I decided I'd cover something I consistently see companies fail at doing, nevermind doing well.
SMART SOCIAL MARKETING = SMARKETING
I just made that up - or maybe someone else did, it's hard to be original these days! ;-)
I have a good amount of experience and have established myself as an authority on Social Media Marketing through my direction and work on / with the Social Media Marketing group on LinkedIn, and the site dedicated to our group - www.SocialMediopolis.com I've decided that while many companies seem to have nailed the automation part of social marketing, most fail in one critical area of social marketing that I think leads them to be doing 'dumb social marketing' - in other words, social marketing that doesn't work as well.
When I was in the U.S. Army, one of the things we learned was to work smarter, not harder. I think many companies fail to realize some of the basics that could help them in their social marketing, and to become smarketers instead of dumbarketers(?)....
SO, HERE'S SOME TIPS ON TWO CRITICAL AREAS OF SMARKETING
Mashable is set to unveil a beta launch redesign on Wednesday (Nov. 14) aimed at putting the social media-centric publication at the center of both the data-driven publishing and native advertising movements.
On the ad front, the site will adopt an infinite scrolling mechanism, designed to only serve "below the fold" ad units when a reader actually scrolls down the page. That will help Mashable make the argument to advertisers that it only serves viewable impressions—a standard many in the online ad world hope becomes commonplace, as the industry strives to adopt a common ad currency.
In addtion, Mashable has rolled out what it's calling a"storytelling ads unit." This ad treatment allows brands to buy multiple units on one page, which in conjunction lay out a single narrative as a reader scrolls down the page.
Besides rethinking its ad inventory, Mashable is looking to further its social publising prowess by relying more heavily on data in deciding what content it publishes, and when. To that end, the company has adopted a "velocity algorithm," i.e., a predictive set of tools aimed at monitoring all of Mashable's content for signs of virality—and then reacting instantly.