Over 70% of Social Media initiatives FAIL

Here is what happens:

Customer: We need to get our number of fans up, some more follower and some really hot buzz campaign. We need some agency who can really deliver.
Agency: We can do that for you. We have people who setup your presence, tweet for you and do some blogging. We upload a few photos and take care of feedback. We also do social media monitoring.
Customer: Great – here are $3,500 per month and I expect you double my followers, grow my fan base, steer up some noise and generate solid leads for me.
Agency: Done deal – we’ll start tomorrow morning.
Now – our agency has 1,700 followers on Twitter 900 friends on Facebook and over 500 connections on LinkedIn. She tweets, posts, uploads images and produces a few cool videos here and there. And because all of this is new and a new deal, all her friends chime in, like stuff and get excited. And so these “leads” are as bad as the contact lists the marketing department bought the other day but the numbers go up :)
First review with the customer:
Agency: Hey – this was super cool. We created 20% more follower for you, you got 20 more @Messages, we grew fans by 25% and the views on YouTube grew by 50%  – how cool is that?
Customer: Awesome :)) Making notes to share it with his boss. Next Marketing meeting is going to be cool. He just can envision the impressive chart. OK what are we going to do next? I need some more details from Social Media Monitoring and an ongoing lead flow now.
Agency: Sure – no problem. We’ll drive traffic to your registration page
The next few days get a bit hectic but the agency is able to tweet, post and blast out the registration page promising some super cool product from company X. The registration key “social media’ will show the company how much power is behind Social Media.
A few weeks later
Agency: Hey – how’s going? Did you see a few leads coming in?
Customer: Hey – you are terrific. Yes we got 35% more lead flow in just 3 weeks this is outstanding…
Agency: Cool – we’ll keep rocking
Six month into it
Customer: Hey – we got to talk. Sales is complaining about those ‘Social Media Leads” they are all crap. We have to shift gear!!!
Agency: I’m so sorry to hear that. Not sure what the issue is we drove hundreds of leads your way.
Customer: I know – I know – but we have to shift gear.
Agency: Well that brings me to another point. One of my clients hired my to work for him full time. I’m really sorry but I won’t be able to continue the engagement.
Customer: Arrrrrgggggg
Customer seeking a new agency
Customer: Here is where we are – the whole story – We have an event in 8 weeks and I really need to show some traction. I need to ramp up the signup rate.
Agency: Totally understand. We have a large team that can tweet for you and generate some substantial buzz. But it’s gonna cost you.
Customer: I understand. I’m ready to make some more substantial investments….
The event didn’t show any serious improvements in signups.
Agency: You know that was way to short notice. Social Media is more long term, building relationships and such.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Does that sound familiar to you?

Why that could never work and bring any tangible results:

1) The Network Mistake

Whoever tweets or posts does that to the network they have. If a person from an agency is tweeting, the audience are her friends and nobody else. Unless the business motivates all their customers and prospects to follow and befriend the people from the agency – there is no connection and no one from the target audience will likely get the posts. Of course they may listen to specific hash tags but that is such a weak connection that it is not worth the effort and cost.


The market facing teams in the company need to build their connections to partners, customers, vendors and prospects in the first place. If those people tweet and share interesting and valuable content, likelihood of somebody relevant is reading it is much higher. And even more important those teams will develop much better and more intense relationships with their relevant audience.

2) Feedback Mistake

Now lets assume the customer would read about any of the interesting things. Most likely they would get in touch with the agency. That is probably not what a customer understands as very “social” – more so the agency probably doesn’t know all the relevant contacts in the company so they forward new contacts as “leads” to a central person in the company who then in turn looks for the right person. But hey I expect to talk to the author and have an instant dialog – and 5 seconds later I want to go on in my business. So I would follow this age old process only one time and never again. Let alone the load and inefficiency within the organization.


Have the person who is in charge be the one who provides the content – see previous topic. A customer with a question would be able to get in touch with the person right away and a tweet later he or she has a response. And if the team member does not want to get in touch with a customer – move to a different department.

3) The Content Mistake

The typical “social media marketing campaign” is filled with “valuable content” – but in reality it is a product promotion, event invitation or other business announcements. And obviously why should our agency team build friendships with those unknown customers. Just imagine for a second that your sales team is not very customer oriented and sends people from an agency to play with them golf. What would that conversation look like?  You get the idea.


Instead of blasting “valuable content” into the face of our new relationships, request the teams to build and strengthen the relationships in the first place. Like they would be on a golf course. The only difference is that 18 tweets cost 2 Minutes 18 holes a full day. The business relevant content can later on be carefully be woven into the conversation – like on the green.


I know I know – you don’t have the time to train your team – you need to get it done now. And you don’t see a reason for creating a sound and solid strategy. And you probably don’t have the patience to think through all that in great detail – come on it can’t be that difficult and it looks like the majority of companies do it exactly that way.

I hope this is at least fruit for thought when you start your next social media marketing blast party.



Top 15 Social Media Rules for Business Leader


Rule #1 Connections

If you hate to read about people walking their dog, eating pizza or making you rich in 3 weeks:

You are connected with, or are following the wrong people.

What you read is who you connected with

Rule #2 Time Management

If you are not sure how much time you should spend in social networks? Don’t spend any time at all.

Invest time in your most relevant contacts. If they happen to be in the social web – be where they are.

Invest time in relevant people not platforms

Rule #3 Social

Social media is a interwoven combination of

a) the relationship aspects between individuals to build, maintain and expand connections, learn and teach faster, inspire and get inspired, and get more done – personally or business wise – in connection with others (social).

b) networks, platforms, tools and technologies (media)

That means social media is definitely NOT a channel or a new marketing tool to get your message out. Spamming and hard core selling would be counterproductive for everybody. Social media is a new state of mind not a new way to express old thinking.

Focus on ‘social’ – not ‘media’

Rule #4 Cross Functional

We are all customers of somebody else, whether we make a personal or a business purchase. As such we are all interested in getting better products or services whether we talk about B2B or B2C.

Businesses can create one of the biggest values for themselves AND their customers when customers suggest improvements, help other customers to get more out of a product and directly or indirectly make recommendations. But that value can only be created if the teams inside those companies provide the necessary ways to inspire those conversations and receive those suggestions and act on them.

Create a mutual business value across all departments

Rule #5 Purpose

Social media contains unparalleled wealth of opportunities for businesses to build better products or services based on customer interaction, improve the customer experience, reduce cost of operations and customer acquisition cost and solve company specific business challenges in collaboration with their customers.

Lack of a strategy to take those opportunities and degrading social media to marketing campaigns are the biggest mistakes businesses make in their engagement.

Think of purpose driven strategic Social Media engagements

Rule #6 Making Friends

The lines between personal and business use get more and more blurry.

The day we do business primarily with business friends and help friends to advance in their business – those lines are gone. Top executives know that business between business friends are the most successful. Social media helps making trustful business friends on all levels within an organization.

Don’t build walls between personal friends and business friends

Rule #7 Networking

Understand the NCP Model. The larger your Network the farther your reach. Contribution is the fuel for the relationship with your network. Sharing content or provide comments are some of the key contributions to spark an engagement. Participation from your Network in your Contribution is the currency of the social web.

If you have great content but nobody is interested, your social engagement will be limited. If you have great content but only a few to share it with, your engagement will be limited. If you have a huge network and massive contribution but no participation, your effort in the social web was apparently of no value.

If you contribute relevant content  to a huge network and recognize a great participation, you know that you are on the right track, you know you gain influence and you see the return of your investment.

Think NCP: Network – Contribution – Participation

Rule #8 Tolerance

The social web is a virtual world, across all cultures, religions, political structures, and national laws.

People have the right to say anything and share anything. If you are offended, disconnect from the person who offends you – but don’t judge him or her just because that person is different and has a different way of doing things. What may be unlawful  in your country, maybe an accepted behavior somewhere else. What was an accepted behavior in your culture just 100 years ago maybe even unlawful today. (See rule #1).

Be most tolerant and respectful

Rule #9 Social Ownership

A company can’t be successful with social media if just a few people, or agency engages in the social web and the rest of the company does business as usual (See rule #4). If a team has no interest in the relationship to customers – a relationship cannot be delegated.

Own your relationships

Rule #10 Efficiency

Unlike in the old marketing world where your target audience was an anonymous and faceless mass of  target groups, titles, demographics and territories that you addressed with equally anonymous ‘penetration’ techniques – in the new world you are actually engaging with human beings who have a name, a face, a need and are ready to socially engage. Unlike in the old sales world where it took hours and days to arrange for a meeting plus hours of traveling and typically an hour of a meeting, an engagement in the social web may take only a few minutes. It won’t replace the face to face relationship but it not only accelerates processes, it also allows a person to handle 10 times as many relationships as before and ten times as many interactions than before.

Engage with significantly more people in less time

Rule #11 Assessment

Before you start any engagement make an assessment.

Have a clear picture about where your customers are in the social web and what is on top of their mind. Know what your business partners doing and how they engage. Know where and how your own team is currently engaged. Know everything about your competition because the social web is an open book that tells you everything.

Know where your entire market is

Rule #12 Social Assets

Relationships in general and social media in particular are like investments turning into assets.

You have to put something in before you get something out.

Treat Social Media like an asset

Rule #13 Privacy

You post and engage publicly to gain exposure and get more feedback than through any private interaction. Everything you share is public. The level of privacy is determined by what you share – not by what network you use. Keeping things private is neither the purpose nor the functionality of social media.

You are the only one who determines the level of privacy

Rule #14 Reputation

Building your social network, contributing to that network and gaining your network’s participation is a process resulting in reputation and trust. It takes months if not years to develop a decent reputation in that world. Building reputation in the social web is like the land grab in the physical world. While the land is limited by physical availability the reputation is limited by the attention span of the global audience. If you don’t have a computer yet, you can still buy one. If you never used the Internet you can simply buy access. But if you have no presence and reputation in the social web, you can’t buy it (See rule #12).

You can’t buy a social reputation – you will need to build and earn it.

Rule #15 Competitive Advantage

Ultimately Social Media can create one of the most significant competitive advantages for any business. And since relationships are fragile most businesses won’t brag about what they do and how they do it. It’s not necessarily to keep it as a business secret but it’s actually the customers turn to brag about their influence into a company. Take any ‘Social Media success story’ with a grain of salt if presented by a consultant or agency or the company itself.

Create a competitive advantage but don’t brag about it.

Judge social media based on your own experience

At any given time in history new innovations have been rejected for the same four specific reasons: 1) It is not secure, 2) It has no value, 3) It will cost businesses too much money and 4) It is just a hype and will go away. Whether it was the introduction of automobiles, supermarkets, airplanes, computers, cell phones or any other technology.

Social media is no different, even though over 1 billion people are using it already. The only way to find out is to make your own experience and decide wisely and with an open mind.