Blog Post

Why Half of Social-Media Campaigns Will Fail

After tentatively exploring social media as a marketing tool for the past year or two, companies and agencies seem to be jumping in with both feet more recently, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, Foursquare or Gowalla, Groupon or Scavengr. But many are suffering from “bright shiny object” syndrome, according to Adam Kmiec of Marc USA, a marketing and communications agency. As a result, he says, about half these attempts to jump on the social-media bandwagon are likely to fail, and for many of the same reasons. Those reasons include:

  • Believing the Social-Media Guru. The concept of social-media marketing is only a couple of years old, “so how can anyone claim to know it all?”
  • Not Tying a Campaign to Reality. Marketing initiatives that are social in nature need to be “tied into the fabric of a business,” says Kmiec, or they will never succeed.
  • Assuming It Will Come for Free. Many firms believe social campaigns don’t need traditional media support, but this is wrong. “Social does not equal viral nor does it equal free.”
  • Blocking Employees From Participating. Blocking employees from using Facebook, YouTube (s goog) and other social media is the wrong approach, says Kmiec. “To be social with customers, employees must be social.”
  • Sticking the Campaign in a Ghetto. All parts of the company should be involved in a campaign, including communications, public relations and marketing. “If you want to go fast, travel alone, but if you want to go far, travel together.”
  • Not Doing the Research First. Social media provides a tremendous amount of research on user behavior and attitudes, says Kmiec. By leveraging this, “companies can uncover opportunities they didn’t even realize existed.”

The rest of Kmiec’s predictions about how online marketers will continue to miss the boat can be found on his blog.

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Post and thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr user Alex Proimos

11 Responses to “Why Half of Social-Media Campaigns Will Fail”

  1. The explosion of social media and the gold mine that it provides can only truly be tapped as a resource through understanding, and that is impossible without research. As social media evolves, so too must market researchers with the tools they use to capitalize on the wealth of information available in the social media universe. As we move into 2011, product innovation, creative and marketing strategy will be driven by the social media voice.

  2. You know what’s sad? It’s when startups or small businesses rush in creating their online presence, without even fixing their product first. I think that when you have a great product, the marketing mix will flow seamlessly from it. You can try faking it, buy friends or followers just so you appear to be popular out there but in the end – conversion will speak for your brand. How many out there are really engaged with what you have to say or offer? That’s where the difference lies.

  3. I really liked your last point on ‘not doing research’. So many people seem to think they can just dabble and ‘see what happens’ – they often miss out on opportunities because they didn’t do the research.

    Nice summary!

  4. @Debi: Care to elaborate?

    I am not a fan of the word “campaigns” … or “targeting” for that matter … in marketing generally, and in social media specifically, such military and impersonal language needs to be jettisoned in favor of language that recognizes that “campaigns” are “targeting” actual people — customers, not consumers.

  5. SM campaigns fail for the same reasons other campaigns fail:

    Lack of research
    Lack of planning
    Lack of integration
    Lack of follow-through
    Lack of relevance

    And they also fail because of a SM specific reason – a complete and utter lack of understanding of what this medium/channel is for. Great for engagement – lousy for selling or advertising.


  6. Amen to your points, especially the one about tying your campaign to reality. All social campaigns need to have solid organizational commitment. Unless you tie the value of your campaign to numbers and concepts that your management team really value, you will lose there support and ultimately lose the resources you need to sustain your efforts.

    Well done.

  7. Good post Matthew,

    A lot has been made of the myth surrounding Social Media Gurus so the bullet point i’d like to focus on here is the ‘Not Tying a Campaign to Reality’.

    I have to disagree with Debi – there is definitely such a thing as a Social Media Campaign (just ask Dell! but its vital these are integrated into your overall Marketing/Business plan and not a replacement for them. You hit the nail on the head here by quoting Kmiec when they say it needs to be “tied into the fabric of a business,” to reap genuine benefits.

    Interesting post.

  8. nice summary and nice points – to me the key issue is the very nature of “social media” and the big thing that channel-chases are missing: everybody talks, nobody listens…just look at the incredibly low volume of reply on twitter and across fb pages – within a year, it has already all devolved into a simple direct marketing collection platform (all of social media), meaning: “to enter, like us on facebook, retweet this line and enter your email” (etc)…nothing new, same old crap, just like “the cloud” is the asp of ’99…still waiting for the new new thing…

  9. Great post you are so right on all accounts. Your 1st and last points are really make me roll my eyes. The “Guru” doesn’t know your business or sales cycle, however doing the homework and research can get everyone on the same page. Most “Gurus” I have worked with miss or don’t understand how the company really gets orders. What is the transition between Social Media Marketing and Sales? Relationships do not matter if you have no way of getting the order.