How To Fail At Social Media Marketing In 2019

Over the last 12 years I’ve worked on more social campaigns – as a social media consultant and content creator – than I can count, but I’ve noticed two important patterns. One, the way companies succeed at social media marketing is as varied as their imaginations, skill sets and budgets will allow.

Two, the way companies fail at social media marketing are surprisingly similar. In fact, I see the same patterns over and over and over again.

So rather than create a video about some obvious topic, like “tips and tricks for Instagram,” this is going be much more of a deep dive into, “what are the fundamental problems you need to avoid if you want to succeed at social media marketing in 2019?”

10. You’re a Vampire

You are always looking at your audience and thinking, “what can I get out of them?”

Having a profit motive and wanting to make sales is 100 percent a legitimate goal, but if you’re not leading with value on social media, and you’re constantly trying to make a sale, you’re going to fail.

9. You’re Not Social!

If you’re not engaging with people on social, it can turn into a major turn off. If people are asking questions or tagging you in photos, they deserve interaction, even if it’s a simple like. Studies show that people expect companies to respond within an hour, which can be unreasonable in some cases, but that’s the expectation.

8. You’re Scared of Everything

If you have a company culture driven by fear, you’re going to have a hard time succeeding at social media marketing. If most of your conversations included, “My only fear is…” or “Let me play Devil’s Advocate here…” then something is wrong.

Yes, risk assessment is a good thing, but neverending fear will doom you to failure. If you want to be good at social media marketing, you’ll have to find the Angel’s Advocate inside of you somewhere.

7. You Don’t Commit

I’ve seen so many great ideas fail before they’re given the chance to succeed, whether because of a short-sighted vision/commitment or because of shiny object syndrome. If you’re constantly giving up on current strategies and chasing every random possibility on social media, you’ll probably fail. Patience needs to be baked in to all your strategic planning for social media and content campaigns.

6. You Create Facebook Ads Instead of Experiences

I’m zero percent against paid social. I’m not against running ads, either. People do not hate advertising; what they hate are bad experiences. Unfortunately, most ads are intrusive, self-serving, boring - in other words, most ads are bad experiences.

Lead with great experiences! That can be paid distribution or even an ad, but it must be a positive experience first.

5. You Want a Viral Video

Great! Here’s an iPhone and a kitten. Good luck. “Going Viral” is rarely an approach that makes sense.

The reason things go viral is a topic for another video, but a lot of the campaigns that we think are viral really aren’t. They’re good experiences with a smart distribution strategy and large budgets. They get millions of views, which is great, but they aren’t viral.

Go deep with your audience, and let them take you wide through sharing.

4. You Want Content Jesus

It’s all too common to want one piece of content to solve all your business problems. Here is a very real email I once received that illustrates my point:

Hi Mike, we were thinking we’d like a video that’s definitely product focused, but we want to also make sure it introduces and explains our overall brand vision. We’re definitely looking for brand awareness but think this could also drive trial/purchase and potentially boost our retention long-term. Is there anyway we could get this to go viral and really get in front of industry influencers in a big way? We don’t have much of a distribution budget so we’ll need to be strategic in our spend. I know we’re running behind, but is this something you could get done by the end of Q3?” (That was 12 days away)

They’re not asking for a video. They’re asking for Content Jesus!

You need to look at the overall customer journey and create relevant content for each step. The more you try to cram into one piece of content, the more likely it is to fail.

3. You Focus On Technology Instead of People/Message

It’s fun to dive into all the various channels and look at how many options there are. 6-second ads on YouTube. Instagram Stories. Going live in Facebook Groups. And on and on.

Focusing on the tech is easier. It’s why we end up looking at all the specs of a camera instead of creating an amazing film. It’s why we shop for guitars instead of writing a hit song.

But at the end of the day we have to create and communicate a message that resonates with people, and that can be difficult and a little scary. But by ignoring the real work and obsessing over the technology, we’re setting ourselves up to fail.

2. You’re Meaningless

It’s a tough truth, but the fact is that most of us are commodities. We don’t offer something that a customer couldn’t get a dozen other ways. So in a lot of ways, what we stand for is just as - if not more - important than what we sell.

I was at a marketing conference a year ago, and I was speaking in front of a few hundred shoe retailers. I said, “Show of hands, who here can sell me a pair of shoes?” Hundreds of hands went up. Looks like a buyers’ market.

What you stand for is how you separate yourself from the competition. What you stand for is how you don’t get sucked into a race to the lowest price.

If you don’t stand for something, you’re going to fail.

And the number one reason most companies fail at social media marketing…

1. You Lack Systems

Not formulas! Formulas are usually bad, but systems win. I’m going to split this up into two sections.

First, you don’t have systems for ideas. What is a good idea? How do you know? How are you going to measure it? How do you be creatively excellent and strategically sound over and over and over again?

Second, you don’t have systems for distribution. How are we moving people through our funnel? How do we know what is or isn’t working? What is our plan to improve each and every step?

If you don’t have systems, then you have no real idea of how to measure the quality of your work, and that gets frustrating and expensive in a hurry.

When it comes to social media marketing and content marketing, remember this: Systems win.

Thank you for watching, I hope you found that helpful. If you have any questions or would like me to help you with your social media campaigns, feel free to email me, and I’ll get back to you ASAP.


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