Reality Check: Social Media is a Slog

Don't fall into this trap.

Here’s the harsh reality: Social media is hard work.

It can be tedious, time-consuming and a grind.  It can also be expensive.

Yet one of the most persistent myths about social media among brands is that it is free, easy and can be done part-time.  Trust me.  It doesn’t work that way.

As a result many brands are practicing social media the wrong way, generally falling into one of  two camps: Campaign Addicts and Part-timers.  Do either of these definitions describe your brand strategy in digital communications?

  • Campaign Addicts: Social and digital media activation is built-in as part of a new campaign or launch.  There’s a furious amount of activity during the campaign and then the Facebook page goes dark.  The tweets stop happening.  Fans and followers are wooed and collected during the campaign and then forgotten as the campaign winds down.  No one in marketing or communications is really sure who is now responsible for maintaining these new social channels opened during the campaign.  As a result they fall to the wayside or the activity becomes sporadic and almost exclusively one-way.  Sometimes these channels are even abandoned.
  •  Part-timers: The brand decides it is no longer possible to ignore social media.  They open up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel and a Flickr account and assign the task of maintaining them to someone in marketing and communications – who already has a full-time job.  They try mightily to make it work, but meetings, travel, vacations and new assignments keep getting in the way.  Communications on the social channels becomes infrequent and content is almost exclusively corporate news updates.  There’s no budget for video or interactive content.  Fans and followers are few and rarely engage.

Neither of these approaches is very effective. Social media needs to be built into the DNA of communications and marketing, but requires dedicated resources.

Take Twitter as an example.  One of the statements I sometimes hear from clients is: “How much time can it take to write-up 2-3 tweets every day?”

But that’s simply looking at Twitter as a broadcast channel.  Writing links to news releases and articles and firing them off.  You can do this, of course, but what is the point?

When a brand opens a Twitter channel (or any social media channel) creating content – compelling and on message content that drives business goals – is only one part of the process.  But there is also:

  • Monitoring ongoing conversations about your brand and industry
  • Answering questions and inquiries from customers, media and others
  • Choosing who to follow and who not to follow (media, partners, employees, etc.)
  • Engaging with those who become key parts of your community
  • Figuring out what content you plan on retweeting – or if you’ll retweet at all
  • Aligning the content with current business objectives, news events or programs
  • Providing multimedia content for the channel (photos, graphs, infographics, videos, etc.  Content isn’t just a tweet)
  • Deciding how to use Twitter to enhance trade-shows, conduct interviews, participate in chats, etc.

As you can see Twitter isn’t just a broadcast pipeline, but a living, breathing, thriving community that can be created around your brand.  If you’re just tweeting once a day and then ignoring it, why even use the channel?

Twitter – like other social channels – needs a plan.  The content should be aligned with marketing and communications.  It needs to be monitored and managed.

What it needs is hard work.


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8 Responses to “Reality Check: Social Media is a Slog”

  1. I think the short answer solution and logical first step for brands is to start hiring full-time community managers to proactively engage with audiences in the digital space.

  2. Hi Darryl:
    I think you’re on to something…

  3. Exemplary post, George — thank you!

    I believe a lot of online marketers and small business owners are looking to social media venues as the proverbial silver bullet or magic wand.

    And as human nature weaves its way into the mix (and it always does!), they’re hoping for an “easy” (a.k.a. “lazy”) way to create a presence online and build brand awareness.

    Of course, I could be wrong. 🙂

    I published a post recently entitled, “15 Truths Entrepreneurs Would Like To Bury In A Deep Hole”. What compelled me to craft that particular post was the undertone I sense online of how it’s somehow (and miraculously) possible to have success in your business without doing much “work”.

    Rubbish! Malarkey!

    As you’ve so eloquently pointed out here, you can’t have social media marketing success MINUS the work.

    I’m giving this post two thumbs up and a five-star rating!

  4. Thank you, Melanie. You’ve identified one of the big issues. Just like there are no shortcuts to losing weight or getting in shape, there is no lazy way to market or do business. It takes hard work to develop creative marketing plans and to build a successful business – online or off.

  5. Hi there (what’s your name gfsnell3 – LOL). I found your post via Melanie – she’s so great!

    You’ve definitely spoken the truth here. Now if only I could get my clients to understand this. I keep telling them, it takes time or money (or both).

  6. Whoops… George! Guess I should have looked around a little more. Sorry about that!

  7. No problem, Deb. Good luck with the clients.


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    […] occurred to me reading George F. Snell III’s latest post what’s missing from a lot of social marketing strategies. The passage below sounds awfully […]

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