Guest Post by Mads Krogh Petersen
President, Vertic Advertising


It is little news that social media interactions drive brand perception, buying decisions, and customer loyalty. What’s big news is how many companies manage their social digital media interactions very poorly. Here are five of the most significant drivers of social media failure. Do any of these apply to you?

1. Don’t Listen To What Your Customers Are Already Saying

The social media dialogue among your customers is already enormous. For example, the topic “customer service” was discussed 571,958 times on social media in Q1, 2013. The penetration of LinkedIn continued to climb, now featuring one third of the world’s executive business decision makers who talk, share, and listen to each others’ comments about everything related to business – including your company’s service. Failing to listen to the digital voice of your customers is the first way to ensure failure in social media.

2. Focus on Your Product, Not on the People You Serve

Yes, your new product is great. But the value-add of new features are likely to be incremental in the eyes of your potential and existing customers, especially in a social context. So spare the technical details on your new larger screen, better integration, lower energy consumption, more active enzymes and the like, when reaching out to prospects and customers in social media. Instead, talk about who uses your product and the benefits they receive. Tell stories, ask questions, provide answers, give advice, offer insights, new ideas, and practical action steps that real people can use to get more benefit and value from the products and services you offer.

3. Use Double Standards for Measuring Marketing ROI

It may be that measuring ROI for your social media efforts is difficult as the customer decision-making process may extend across multiple touch points, and deliver value of extended periods of t time. Yet research shows the influence of social media on customer loyalty consistently ranks above push marketing campaigns and sales rep reinforcement. Demanding detailed documentation of social media ROI can resemble selective paranoia, especially when you consider how much money companies invest without rigor in sales meetings and conventional marketing tactic. How much is the budget of your people’s time and money to conduct another sales meeting anyway? What would it take, and what customer experience impact would you get, by putting all that energy into an incredible social media effort?

4. Make Social Media Activity an Afterthought

People are social creatures and since early time have gathered to share ideas, stories, and gossip around the fire, at the bar, or standing at the water cooler. Today, social media has enabled an explosion of real-time conversations and this is just the beginning. When you plan your social marketing activity, you must carefully consider what type of content is most likely to be enjoyed, read, forwarded, liked, consumed and commented upon by your customers in social platforms. Failure to think this way leads to old-style thinking in new-style media, and that is a recipe for social media failure. If your marketing agency’s best idea is a new TV commercial or a better Power Point presentation, and they can’t tell you how either is going to play in social media, then start looking for a different and more up-to-date agency to support you.

5. Search for Certainty, and Don’t Move Until You Are Certain

The mechanisms of social media are evolving quickly in synch with dramatic and accelerating evolution in the entire digital world. Most companies who are successful with customer interaction and social media live “life in beta” and adjust their social media approach continuously. If you insist on certainty before you begin, you are likely to never get started. Without experimental and flexible thinking, quickly adjustable action in social media, you will be buried in a fast-moving wake.

Do you recognize any of the Five Ways to Fail in your social media approach to customer service and experience enhancement? If so, start rethinking today. Engage your customers, ask your colleagues, watch your competition, and get yourself a digital agency that understands social media and social customer service.