I must admit that I was inspired to write this post based on the Social Media club of Orlando. They had tweeted me an invite to an event titled, “Mistakes and Lessons Learned in Social Media. It’s a great topic and thus I was inspired. I was going to title this post, “The biggest mistake I made in social media” but that would mean that it’s in the past tense, and at this point I got it down cold. No no no… That is certainly not the case. On the contrary, I still make mistakes. I learn from them and grow from them, but I still make new ones every week because the landscape keeps changing every week.
But what about you? You might be either just getting started in social media as a consultant, as a marketer for your company, or perhaps, you are a more seasoned individual. Either way, the assumption is that you are immersed in the culture and dynamics of social media integration in some way, shape, or form. And lets assume you’re going to make some mistakes. With that said, let’s look at what some of those mistakes might be and how you can avoid them.
Note* I have made all or some variance of these mistakes at some point in the past.
1) You assume Never assume you understand the consumer of your client. You know what they say? Never assume because it makes an ass out of u and me… Before you submit or create a social media proposal you really should try and get a full understanding of the clients customers, their online and offline consumption patterns, their behaviors and their preferences.
2) You Don’t Define Your KPI’s . KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator and it’s a key part of your measurable objectives with the client. They can be made up of benchmarks, targets, and time frames. Look, if you were a coach and you had a team, you would set goals right? They might be win x amount of games, make the playoffs, win the conference etc. etc. On a business level with social media in mind, they take on a different tone and level, but the outcomes are still measured in the same way. Coaches and teams don’t fly blind, and neither should you and your clients. Define your targets, benchmarks and outcomes that can be measured to determine performance and success. Define them and you’ll spare yourself some grief down the line.
3) You Didn’t Do Your Homework. Make sure you understand completely a) what the client is selling b) what their messaging is c) how they get their clients and…d) where those clients typically are i.e. where they hang out. Not all networks are the same and as social networks mature, new networks are cropping up daily that are more niche specific. In simple terms, this means that selling brooms on MySpace might not work.
4) No Value. What you produce for the client digitally, or what the client produces digitally, needs to have value. There is an assumption that if one just creates content that that is enough to drive traffic to the client. No, it doesn’t work like that. There has to be a level of quality that tells consumers that your social presence is worth tracking. Quality and value take on many forms, depending on the company and the client, but the bottom line is never short you, the client or the customer on either. They’ll leave before they even get there. And you know what? You know the difference, don’t kid yourself.
5) You Ignore The Rest of the Company. We talk about enterprise wide integration of social media but that takes on different forms. This means that HR is going to use social media in a completely different way than IT and or your PR department. We sometimes stick to what we know best and oftentimes say that integration of social media should occur in marketing; but that’s a short sighted attack. Every channel in an organization can benefit from social media, it’s up to you to make it happen.
6) You Made it Complicated. If you can’t understand it, or you can’t articulate it properly to your clients, peers, or bosses, then don’t talk about it yet, and definitely don’t go trying to implement it. Do you think the people you’re talking to are going to get what you don’t understand? It being the many different aspects of social media integration. You need to understand nuance which is something that doesn’t happen overnight with social media. With that being said, never assume you know everything, and sometimes you just can’t know everything, but don’t pretend you do. Keep it simple for yourself and for others. Think about it from the user’s perspective.
7) Set Them Free. Don’t let clients bamboozle you into doing all of the heavy lifting for them. One of the important aspects of social media is that we’re asking people, clients and companies to be more transparent and authentic. It’s their chance to connect with their customers and prospects in ways that they never thought of. If you’re doing all the social media work for them, then you might as well call yourself a PR company instead. It’s not authentic. You need to help them integrate social media into their company, you then need to teach them how to use the tools of social media, and then you need to hand it off to them. Take the training wheels off. You can still monitor from afar-it’s what consultants are for.
8. Understand the Digital Big Picture. This last one is more of a philosophical mistake to avoid.. As a company, consultant, marketer or whatever, it’s important for you to understand that things will be changing. Rapidly. Don’t ever assume that the space that you operate in, is static. It’s not. Yesterday does not look like tomorrow. Always keep one eye on the prize and another on what’s on the horizon. Like? Mobile, Mobile social, Mobile search, and social search…