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7 Reasons Your Social Media Marketing Failed (and how to fix it!)

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 12 years and 115 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Don’t be a failure at your social media marketing. Your message and how you distribute it is very important to your brand and future success. You’ve got on the cluetrain, and decided it’s time to start embracing social media as an important part of your marketing mix.

You’ve seen and heard the success stories, but you’ve been floundering with no traction for the last 6 months. You’ve figured out what social media is. Before you reappropriate that budget, take a look at what you’re doing wrong – or better yet, know the common problems and how to fix them from the start.

1. You Chose the Wrong Channels

You’ve seen the stats on facebook and myspace. They are HUGE. There is massive reach the size of google. This does not mean if you make a profile company for Chevy, everyone will be their friend and buy more cars. There is a HUGE disconnect between wanting to USE social media for marketing, and embracing it for better communication with customers.

How does a campaign that is on television only get a couple thousand friends on facebook? Improper distribution. I hope the *cough* branding was worth it.

Solution: You choose your social media channels by finding where the customers who want to talk about your company are talking. If they are NOT talking about your company anywhere, then you need to find common topics that a given community is interested in.

Example: If you have a site about young tech males – digg is definitely your place. If you have a site about cooking and gardening, you’re going to have to pander to young techie males on digg, or you’re going to need Find the community that your customers are most likely to hang out in. Then maybe explore a few bigger ones, and try to find a few of your people out of a crowd.

wrong people2. You Used the Wrong People

Just because your web designer twittered once and had a myspace profile from day one, does not mean that he understands how to market on social media. Just because your advertising agency knows how to market in print, does not mean that they understand how digg, reddit, and stumbleupon work. Yes – your SEO got you some good rankings, but he’s only getting you 5 diggs on the content you’ve spent weeks preparing. Not exactly the big win you were hoping for.

If you’re using the wrong people you’re toast. We all figured out the hard way what the website looked like when the network admin created it, and how well it ranked when the print designer posted the all image version. Don’t let someone who plays on twitter while they’re at work try to run your viral marketing campaign.

Solution: Firstly, it helps to find someone who’s actually DONE what you’re trying to do. Yes, they may be more expensive, but you won’t pay for the service two or three times learning these same lessons in failure.

3. Your Content Sucked

You wrote a top 10 list. So did 3 million other sites. It wasn’t entertaining or resourceful, and you forgot to use even a single linkbaiting hook. Even the best social media promoters out there won’t be able to promote pure crap. Being one step better than crap is not remarkable either. Your content needs to be on another level to get referenced throughout the web these days. You’re not going to get buy with a $30 article from elance, and expect it to get 1,000 backlinks.

Solution: Spend some time and research. Run some of your keywords on Aaron’s awesome keyword tool, and see what was successful. Take that idea, and make it three times better. Then edit the hell out of that idea, and improve it another couple times. Then cut out all the garbage you added as filler, and add one more round of good stuff. Be sure that you don’t use words like "good stuff".

  • Edit yourself mercilessly.
  • Be succinct.
  • Be entertaining
  • Research and list better (and more) resources.
  • Have a hook (or two or three)

4. Your Team Didn’t Believe in the Project

You had the right people internally, but they didn’t think it would work. They’d rather be playing guitar hero and ping pong instead of helping the project succeed. Social media isn’t quite as measurable as other methods, and the sales pitch really wasn’t all that convincing.

Solutions: You have to sell the project better internally. You need to convince your team that this is how you increase revenue from their efforts, and it is directly attributable to them. Beat "through the fire and flames" on medium mode (or watch a bot do it on expert), and put guitar hero down, and don’t pick it up again.

Explain to your team why this is the difference between success and failure of the company. This is important to the bottom line, and even though it seems like fun and games – it’s the driving force behind successful marketing right now. Everyone needs to be on board, and pushing in the same direction to execute effectively.

5. You Didn’t Execute

The number one problem that social media campaigns don’t succeed: POOR EXECUTION.

The site imploded when you hit the homepage of digg. Because you didn’t test all of your scripts under high volume duress, your webserver nearly melted, and wouldn’t serve pages. Half of the people trying to access your site had ridiculous load times, or never saw the content at all. Needless to say, those visitors didn’t subscribe for anything, or check out additional pages on the site.

Solutions: Fire your network adminstrator, because there’s no excuse for downtime. Find someone who understands apache a bit better. Cache your site, make sure all cylinders are a go, and PRACTICE. Release some b-material first to see how smoothly things go.

Start small and test. Increase your success through understanding and improvements of the larger social media sites by using the smaller ones to channel success and vice versa. If you can get to the digg homepage, you should probably be able to get a good amount of delicious bookmarks.

6. No one Trusted You

Your site is plastered with ads. You’re selling get rich quick schemes. Your web host went down. Your design sucks. There’s no contact information. There’s no pictures of real people. Everyone has seen your stock photos before. There’s no address. There are plenty of reasons people won’t trust your website. Social media transparency will magnify trust issues, and people will really take swings at your potential flaws. Don’t set yourself up for failure by having people not trust you.

Solution: Read Matt McGee’s great article about building trust, and improve your credibility. Take down your advertising for social visitors, and give them a single call to action that is simple and not asking much.


7. You Forgot about Search

You built a site for social media. You pander to the audience, and gave the fickle crowd what they want. You forgot to create sustainable content around topics that are of interest to someone selling something. You brought in a bunch of WEB GRAZING SHEEPLE who don’t actually consume anything except media. Your users spend all day on stumbleupon, because they can barely afford more than their rent, an high speed internet connection, and a laptop with the meager salary they are able to earn working throughfeeding their need to be entertained 23 second attention span.

You didn’t realize the main goal of your social media marketing was to help ultimately rank high for a high volume, high converting competitive phrase that drove your revenues through the rough for the next two years of sustaining the result.

Solution: Here’s the shameless plug. You need someone who understands social media marketing and other forms of search engine marketing to develop a comprehensive strategy for your online marketing efforts. You need a SMOSEO (social media marketing search engine optimizer).

Better yet – you need to learn about becoming a online media marketer yourself and understand how all forms of marketing can affect social media, search engine rankings, converting traffic, and what these services are worth. Educate yourself on becoming a better online marketer if you want to succeed yourself working on the web.

Resources I found while writing this:
12 Tips on Creating Content for Social Media

  • Top 10 Reasons Great Content Fails
  • Tools for Social Media
  • Ultimate Social Media Resource List
  • Social media predictions for 2009
  • Social media gut check
  • More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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    • Gab Goldenberg

      SMOSEO? Personally, I find smores taste better :D.

      Seriously, for a topic that’s so done, I did pick up a few new things here :)

    • Social network software

      Right on! also…not giving up. Keep on keepin’ on.

    • Sian Simon

      I like it – entertaining and to the point! I like that you posted other resources you found….

    • Matt Siltala

      #1 and #7 hits it dead on for me – I am amazed at how many people tell me they wanna get on Digg because they hear it can bring a ton of traffic – OR – because someone told them they need to get their content on it. They don’t even take into consideration the kind of content they are submitting (in most cases a homepage of a retail site – or an article talking about a product) They fail to realize the power of the linking and setting the campaign up correctly so it can help you rank for those crazy words you could only wish about obtaining.

      People – you will have successful campaigns if you follow through and execute these 7 steps.

    • Chris Winfield

      Awesome info, amazing looking post…

      Please post more Todd :)

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    • Jack Leonard

      Right on target. All too often marketers forget to properly identify their audience and where they congregate. Building support for the project from the team is only common sense, yet is can make-or-break your success.

      Content is king no matter what. There is never an excuse for poor writing.

      The final straw comes down to the old adage – test, test, test. It’s no good to anyone if it doesn’t work.

      Building trust and a good search campaign are similar in the fact that they both take time and talent.

      Keep the tips coming!

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    • Eric Itzkowitz

      Todd, this article gives me a lot to think about with regards to my social media strategy for SpeedyPin. Thank you for posting not only the many problems people run into, but a solution for each. Too many times I see bloggers do the opposite; so thank you. Cheers to another successful year on the Web!

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    • Isaacson

      this is a great article, i would suggest also that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. people can’t think that they read a few articles and can create a successful campaign (similar to your #2). Test, test, test. Trail and error is important, just make sure you learn from your errors!

    • Michael Hafner

      Good stuff. And so many things we have to care for…

    • Mary Mcknight

      Todd, great article. I have to say the one thing I see the most is companies especially choosing the wrong channels or using people that have no idea about how to use social media effectively. They forget its a conversation not a lecture or try to be too corporate or too cutesy. I like using real executives and employees and letting people build relationships with one another rather than brands. The people need to represent the brand and offer a voice for the company.

    • Brad Mays

      Nice post.

    • thailand travel guide

      Thank, great info for guide develop my blog :)

    • Dan Massicotte

      Wow, sure are a few ideas to think about. Nothing I’ve come across before.

      About sheep grazing, is the only kind of content that can be king on the net content that helps other people make money???

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    • Dan Perry

      Great read, as expected. By the looks of the images you used, I think you’re spending WAY too much time on Fark. That is all. :)

    • Search123

      “All too often marketers forget to properly identify their audience and where they congregate. Building support for the project from the team is only common sense, yet is can make-or-break your success.” So true.

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    • Money Making and Blogging Website

      There are two things we need to learn and test which is effective:

      1. Introduce your company fans into a new social media platform.
      2. Dive into the platform that your company fans are using and active with.

    • AJ Gerritson

      Todd, a lot of this stuff is so simple and yet still so misunderstood by so many. Great work pulling this together.


    • Bobby Kircher

      These are great tips, Todd. If you have an email list of site visitors and customers, one great way to find out what kinds of social networks they’re using is to ask. A quick email survey can give you some valuable insight as to where to target in social networks for your site.

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    • SEMclix

      Some what of an old article but awesome information. This information can be used in even todays social media practices. Great information, thanks for the post!

    • MOS SEO Services

      Sound advice, a good eye opener.

    • website design rochester

      Very well written I appreciate & must say good job…

    • melina-touke

      Was excellent.
      Thank you very much., You are a good writer.
      In addition to art that will give you good
      I congratulate you
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    • adrian

      i think, i have mistake when using social media to promote, now i know about that because you have share to us, thank you. we are sumatra travel which share information about tourism places in north sumatra, many foreigners called us with sumatra tours , we hope this information useful. thank you.