September 2011

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The Disadvantages to Social Media Marketing
Social Media is a fantastic tool if used properly, but it takes time and dedication.

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak

Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor


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Over the past few months I have been discussing the value of Social Media Marketing and how to utilize webcasts to boost business.  As with everything in life the good must be paired with the bad. Many articles (including mine) promote the positive benefits of using Social Media to help promote businesses in the Industrial Automation / Building Automation space.

Social Media marketing is a fantastic tool in any marketer’s tool box, but many authors don’t want to talk about the pitfalls associated with it.  There are a great many advantages that can be utilized such as rapid viral exposure for products, increased search engine rankings and above all qualified leads and sales. There are also some things to be aware of:

1.    Bad Branding – The wrong online brand strategy can doom a company, and put you at a huge viral social disadvantage.  Just ask Sony.  Sony has a great platform in the PS3 but they chose to neglect the value of effective social media and as a result the sales of the Microsoft Xbox have soared while Sony’s always remain number two.

2.    Commitment – I have mentioned this in past articles, but it really can’t be over stated.  If your company decided to start a blog, twitter feed, or Facebook page, then designate someone to maintain it.  There is nothing worse than going to visit a corporate blog in September and the last post was in June.  It tells potential customers that if you are too busy to maintain your blog then you are probably too busy to provide them with customer support.  They will shop elsewhere.  If as a company you can’t commit at least 6-8 hrs a week on Social Media then don’t bother with it.  Social Media is a living breathing beast.  If you feed the beast then the beast works for you, but you need to feed it often.

3.    Relevant content! -  Let’s be honest.  Blogs and Twitter feeds tend to take on the persona of their authors and this is a bad, bad thing!  It is not an individual’s feed or blog, it belongs to the company and they have designated you as the rep to post.  Many Social media marketers forget this and think that they are the blog or feed.  This will only end in a bad way.  Corporate blogs and feeds should be agnostic.  They need to be interesting and represent the company, but they should be designed that authors can be swapped out with a limited drop in following.  Granted some companies have “celebrities” that they want to showcase and that is a good thing, but have a plan should they ever leave the company.  You do not want all of your social media efforts and ranking to disappear because someone decided to leave the company.  Social Media is a marketing tool that needs serious content.  No one cares that you are in Switzerland for a conference and seeing the local sites.  What readers care about is what technological advances you learned about at the conference that might impact them. 

4.    Time – I mentioned before that getting involved with Social Media is very time consuming.  As a company you will need to designate an individual to constantly feed your pages and profile with relevant content (see point three).  This individual also has to monitor comments and respond to questions.  For small companies this can be a serious problem as they need all hands on deck to keep the company afloat. The commitment of time is why many small companies choose not to engage in social media to boost their marketing efforts. They realize their limitations and simply do without.  This is where an outside consultant becomes invaluable.

5.    No short term ROI – The honest truth is that Social Media Marketing is a long term strategy.  Seeing a return could take anywhere from a few months to a year before a company sees the benefits of increased customer loyalty and sales.

6.    The risk of negative comments – Any time a company opens itself up to open criticism there is the possibility of negative comments about a product or service. I don’t see this as a negative.  I have always found that the measure of a quality company was how they dealt with problems, and companies that admit their faults, fix them, and carry on, sell more products.  Consumers want customer service.  They want to know that the company that they bought the product from is fixing any issues quickly and listening to them.  Wal-mart used this strategy to help create the employee share program where every employee of a store gets a split of the store they work at profits once per year to reward their employees for their hard work.  Wal-mart used their corporate blog comments to develop this program and increase productivity.

Above all Social Media is a fantastic tool if used properly, but it takes time and dedication.  Imagine a scenario where something goes wrong with a product line.  Social Media can be used to get your corporate apology and statement out extremely quickly to do damage control and get a statement out before your customers start forming a negative opinion.  It is a great tool, but every tool has to have safety precautions when using it. 

Ultimately, deciding if you should employ social networks as part of your marketing plan comes down to what is right for your business.  Can you afford to commit the time and effort to reap the rewards?  Social Media is definitely not a “band-aid” solution to a poor marketing plan, or to give you a sudden surge of sales.  Social Media is a committed effort to building relationships and a client base for the long haul.


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