A lack of a genuine and authentic interest in facilitating relationships between users on the Web is the most frequent cause for social media campaigns to fail in business. It’s not only money and greed, it’s also the practice of using social media to silence the angry mob which more often than not, calculates to failure. I’ll explain what this all means.
In a report from Gartner Research, published by CNET, a startling statistic was published to alert business to the truth: Half of ‘social media campaigns’ will flop. I’ll validate the news with agreement that social media is a tough concept to nail down for traditional organizations only because it challenges all traits which made them successful.
In many cases, a Social Media campaign is one that a company undertakes to launch their social networking, B2C Web or long-tail user interactions. Most companies want to offer the basics (which isn’t bad): a blog, forums and they entertain the thought of user-generated content. Many fail to see past the hood ornament in the road of the Internet. (No, I’ll abstain from the use of the Superhighway cliche`)
Social Media has to be respected and should not be used to deceive people. This will ultimately compromise the trust people have in Social Media. For instance, the stunt the GOP pulled by creating an attack Web site, imitating the theme of Facebook, went by nothing more than BarackBook. The only purpose of that site is not to dispel myths or debunk cover-ups; it’s intended to attack a presidential candidate’s character. This site was hardly successful — but not because of the technology or the people. It failed because of the ulterior motive in facilitating Social Media.
In order for a community to form, there has to be a genuine community. No longer does the misquote, “If you build it, they will come [sic]” apply in the age of Web 2.0. I like to speculate that Internet users mature their interests and are (or at least interested in) controlling their online experience. With that in mind, without a group of people who are genuinely interested in collaborating online, there is not an online community. It does not matter what kind of deal you kick up with MySpace or Facebook, without people, there is no community. Without a common interest, there is no people. Simple as that.
Five rules of Corporate Social Media:
- People don’t like bullshit;
- People want to be heard;
- People want to be empowered;
- People are not advertisements;
- People are intelligent, they will detect an epic fail a mile away.
These rules are the rules in order for big companies to participate in Social Media effectively. I’ve always advocated that guidelines can be broken, but these are rules. If you fail to acknowledge these rules, you will join the ranks of Wal-Mart, Ford, FOX News and Disney. (Meaning, you’ll fail.)
I’ll concur with Jeremiah Owyang, that the use of Campaign and Community absolutely don’t belong together. A campaign is a unwavering operation for the purpose to fulfill an objective, with the expected casualties. I prefer the term, strategy or plan. In Social Media, it only takes one “casualty” (epic fail) to collapse your entire strategy. The objective will always change in almost any company. Some want to generate buzz, others times it may be desired to silence it; some want a company to have a strong viral voice, and others may want users to have their own voice. Targets always move.
In an article a colleague sent me, DestinationCRM glorifies the use of sloppiness in Social Media. The article is a must-read for any business owner who still isn’t fully comfortable with their Social Media strategy. I want to rebut with the fact that sloppiness doesn’t always equal authenticity. People don’t really want sloppy, but sloppy works if authentic and genuine interactions are taking place. In the article, they also point out that companies need to have a purpose (goal) in mind when jumping into the Social Media world.
Let me help you with this, a purpose to participate in Social Media, is not:
- Making money;
- Shutting people up;
- Bringing down your competitor(s).
What’s left for a company’s purpose in Social Media?
- Reputation Management (Whitehat)
- Communicate with customers
Those are about it. Really.
So to answer the big question, What Causes Half of Social Media Campaigns to Fail?
Social Media campaigns fail because their purpose is not in alignment with end-users’ needs and interests. Failed Social Media interactions are a result of the lack of communication, transparency and honest talk. Failed campaigns are ones with a financial cause.
Social Media is the new customer service. Social Media the new Better Business Bureau. Social Media is real and it’s here. People just want to be able to get what they want, when they want, how they want it. People are human and Social Media provides the means to satisfy almost anyone’s needs.