5 Ways Social Media Can Destroy Your Business

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: January 6, 2014

We’re more than a decade into the movement known as social media, but businesses continue to struggle with this new construct of communication. The numbers show that most businesses are not fully leveraging, or even understanding, the world of social media marketing and social business.

Executives remain uneasy of a channel that is touted as a “must leverage” but rarely produces identifiable revenue increases, or is at least backed by reporting good enough to show tangible results. For them the questions remain: How can I drive business with social? How can I measure social media’s impact? How can I convert social networking contacts to customers? What is the value, if any at all?

The easy answer is that it’s not easy. But it’s not impossible. Social media is a thriving source of website traffic and revenue for many companies when approached and analyzed correctly. Instead of talk about “likes,” “followers,” or “engagement rate,” we need to look at the entire path to conversion for social and try to understand and measure the role that social plays in getting prospects onto that path and guiding them towards purchase. To get from “comment” to “customer,” avoid these 5 common mistakes that lead to the failure of social efforts.

  1. Your social personality isn’t likeable. Not every social brand needs to be funny or clever. Over social media your brand needs to welcome, entertain, and provide value related to your business. But keep your audience in mind. If you’re providing them with a serious and vital tool for running their business, don’t share irrelevant, useless content like cat videos on your social channels.
  2. Your advertising strategy is archaic. Back in the glory days of television, you’d be watching Bonanza and the show would abruptly cut to the Marlboro Man trying to sell you cigarettes. During that era, that kind of marketing worked. Today? Not to so much. “Marketers are on social media to sell stuff,” social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk says. “Consumers, however, are not … If you want to talk to people while they consume their entertainment, you have to be their entertainment.” If users are on Instagram to see beautiful pictures, don’t interrupt their experience by posting a picture of a coupon. Instead, post a beautiful picture of your product in a picturesque setting.’
  3. You’re not calculating return on investment. Everyone’s doing social media marketing, but does anyone know if it’s worth the investment? The people social teams report to—the ones who sign off on budget requests—want to know how to measure the return on our investment in terms of business metrics like leads and sales. Close the loop between social efforts and actual revenue. Put social in the context of the sales funnel and speak the language business executives understand – sales, revenue, and cost. Turn from qualitative to quantitative measurement. If you’re not tying social to sales, you’re not reporting anything of value.
  4. You’re not measuring retention.  Don’t neglect to continue measuring your success with prospects once they’ve become customers. You’re likely to find that people who come through the social channel remain customers longer and spend more.
  5. Your social objectives are too broad. Unless you have a huge budget, you need to focus on only one primary goal, which may be generating awareness, leads, customers or improving customer retention. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve helps you determine what to measure.

From exposure, influence and engagement—which all fall under the umbrella of brand awareness—many brands have the opportunity to move towards social lead generation. With social, it’s possible to generate high-funnel leads and hard leads, the first meaning you’re engaging with someone who may not have even known they had a problem, but they were doing some research; the second, a customer close to potential sale. In either situation if you are approaching social correctly, you are getting to end users before the competition, and starting them down the conversion road earlier than in a traditional sales process.