It’s the modern-day marketing equivalent of blasphemy — the mere suggestion that social media may not be the best way to reach customers usually draws gasps, laughter or outrage from marketing experts.
1. Your customers aren’t using it.
Despite what you may have heard on Facebook or LinkedIn, not all of us are connected via social media. In reality, the social media revolution is a voluntary experience and millions of consumers have chosen to ignore it, pursuing rewarding lives without the benefit of likes, favorites, re-tweets, pins or follows.
In my research, I’ve discovered that consumers who are less likely to participate in social media often include those who have a specific niche interest that occupies much of their time – for instance, people who are deeply involved in a sport or spend all their spare time skateboarding.
If your company or brand sells to these customers, you can and should ignore social media. Your efforts would be better spent on creating technology and campaigns that support and enable these individuals to do what they love most, which is not staring at a screen.
2. Your brand isn’t human enough.
There is nothing wrong with using social media to sell B2B services like accounting, but there is something very wrong with creating a Facebook page that looks like it was built by a deranged person who is obsessed with sharing every new tax law or article about accounting.
All too often, businesses blow past the hard work of creating a relatable brand identity and move directly into social media execution. The result is a stupefying series of tweets and posts on new hires, small contract wins and technical innovations that doesn’t do anything to establish relationship.
Before investing time and resources in social media execution, take a step back to consider your voice and your overall brand identity. Make sure it translates well to a world driven by personality, craving authenticity and seeking relationship.
3. You aren’t prepared to execute your social media campaign
There are so many examples to cite: Chrysler tweeting that people in Detroit do not know “how to (expletive) drive,” Nestle threating to delete the Facebook comments of customers who don’t use the correct Nestle logo, Kenneth Cole referencing riots in Egypt in social media marketing for its 2011 spring fashion collection…and later making light of Hurricane Sandy.
The list of brands behaving badly in social media goes on and on. Bear in mind, these are huge, sophisticated companies with large marketing departments and layers of oversight.
I’m not advocating that you fear social media, nor should perfect to be the enemy of the good. But if a company lacks a social media strategy, a clear line of approvals and defined boundaries for those tasked with execution, they may be asking for trouble — and if your company is ill-prepared to manage tweets and posts, crisis communications management is probably a tall order, as well.
Before you jump into social media, make sure your customers are interested and your company is ready for the added responsibility.
Eric Holtzclaw is the founder and CEO of Laddering Works and author of Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior.