5 Signs Your Brand is Abusing Social Media

Everything and everyone has a purpose, an intended reason for being created. Birds were born to fly. Fish were formed to swim. Social media was made to________.

The word you used to fill in that blank reveals all you need to know about how successful social strategies will be at driving growth in your organization. Abuse – defined as “abnormal use” – simply means the utilization of something for a purpose it was not manufactured for. Pencils as cue tips, credit cards as therapists, food as a best friend and people as punching bags are all obvious examples of something abnormally used.

If you or your team have misaligned expectations about the role of social interactions there isn’t much chance fitting the proverbial square peg into the round hole. Over the last 3 years I’ve had the opportunity to speak to and coach business leaders across the globe and I’ve learned to spot the social media abusers fairly quickly. There are usually 5 ways businesses abuse social media so watch out for these warnings signs in your organization:

5 Signs Social Media Abuse - Adrian Parker Intuit

1) You get an email every month asking how much revenue was driven from Facebook. Social connections and peer recommendations hugely impact purchase decisions but using your channels as a direct response vehicle is the #1 sign you’re an abuser. This offense is worsened if you actually reply to said email with a dollar figure and no other context about your customers. Measuring the value of social activity purely in dollar signs is like measuring the ROI of your mom by her life insurance amount. It doesn’t make sense and actually impairs the ROI of your efforts by missing the bigger picture (lifetime value, media efficiency, loyalty, recommendations and trust). Click here for more on social attribution models and ROI.

2) Your customer care team isn’t actively monitoring social channels. When you said “yes” to using Twitter to connect with customers you also said “yes” to providing timely answers and follow-up to relevant inquiries. It’s a marriage. For richer or for poorer you have a responsibility to be present in the conversation even when it’s not convenient. Companies that sell or serve online have an obligation to treat online conversations in the same manner they would address a face-to-face interaction. Would you like to know how responsive you are as a brand? Try the Twitter Customer Analysis report from Simply Measured (it’s free).

3) You talk about yourself all day. Every day. Can you (Adrian is hot) imagine how (Adrian can’t cook) annoying (Adrian is from Texas) it is to attempt to (Adrian misses his hair) converse with (Adrian wants you to read this) someone who is constantly (Adrian has a budget meeting today) talking about themselves. Just stop it. Inside our companies we all spend an obsessive amount of time talking to, at and about our products as if the earth is still flat and the sun revolves around them. Outside your conference room is where the real world starts. It’s round, customers are real people and relationships matter. Here’s my 37-slide point-of-view on how to create content that drives connections.

4) The leaders who decide social budgets, staffing and resources aren’t active online. Your CMO doesn’t need to have a verified Twitter account or a custom WordPress blog but the key trigger-pullers in your organization do need to be present and participatory online. It truly is the only way to form an accurate end-to-end picture of how to best utilize social as a business mechanism. Imagine Jennifer Quotson, Visual Merchandising Director for Starbucks, procuring vendors to redesign their stores without ever stepping inside one. Better yet, picture Ross Meyercord, CIO of Salesforce.com, deciding next year’s staffing and expense plan without an understanding of customer trends or cloud adoption rates. It’s laughable but it happens more frequently than you think. As a leader, when you reduce your brand’s online experience to a row in an Excel spreadsheet you’re ill-equipped to make intelligent decisions about how best to drive growth. Shifting a company culture to a social first mindset isn’t easy but here are some tools to start the journey.

5) One team “owns” social media or mobile. Social media is ultimately about connections, not control. If one group holds the keys to the kingdom (either by design or default) you’re driving a Porsche 911 stuck in neutral. The true power of these peer connections is realized when a company’s culture embraces engagement as an opportunity to learn, hear and connect more with the people who keep you in business. It’s not a PR function or a marketing campaign, though those are key elements. With 1 billion people on Facebook and half the United States using a smartphone, digital and mobile strategy is everyone’s job. Realign your team and recalibrate your mindset or you may very well be the bottleneck to progress. Not convinced? Here are 4 reasons your social strategy is incomplete without mobile.

Abuse – abnormal use – can be expected with nascent, emerging technologies that require us all to flex muscles in new ways. With constant change comes constant learning. The opportunity lies in dispelling misinformation regarding interactive marketing and enabling both teams and leaders to learn new ways to drive growth from the inside out. Stop the abuse and take the time to do it right.

I’d love to hear from social media leaders and marketers alike. What are some ways you see social engagement mis-used in organizations and what are the barriers to increasing our social IQ? Leave a comment below.

11 thoughts on “5 Signs Your Brand is Abusing Social Media

  1. Great article Adrian! I especially like number 5… we are all brand ambassadors for our company. I admit to being guilty of number 3 at times.

  2. amazing stuff Adrian, great points, they hurt. Not in a good way. The complete lack of concern about online customer care is very worrisome. But even worse is that it seems far too many companies believe that social media is a fad that is not worth pursuing for benefits. That smartphones are those things that teenagers instagram chat on. Mobile is the social media strategy. Businesses will be broken on the back of the social media revolution. Its not about age or demographics, its just plain truth.

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