Larry Brauner

I explained in Top 10 Reasons for Social Marketing why marketers need to add social media to their repertoire and promised to “write about the unique challenges that social media marketing poses” to early adopters.

Here then are my top ten challenges that social marketers will likely grapple with:

  1. Social media often meets with skepticism and resistance inside an organization. This reaction is normal to anything radically new. I suggest that you present social marketing to your colleagues as an experiment that will complement conventional multichannel marketing if successful, not replace it.
  2. Results aren’t achieved nearly as quickly with social media as they are with direct marketing techniques. When planning an experiment or production, be careful about forming unrealistic timing expectations.
  3. The social media learning curve is very steep. Few books or courses teach social marketing, and much of the information available online is unreliable or even biased. I recommend that you seek experienced outside professional help to chart your social marketing path, set policy and facilitate implementation.
  4. It’s easy to spin wheels and waste lots of time going nowhere. There are way too many interesting social networking sites and lots of hype surrounding them. Be sure to read Social Media Targeting for People and Businesses.
  5. Marketers tend to think in terms of generating leads and building databases rather than building a following and a community — new media style. Furthermore, social media is about relating person to person, not about relating impersonally to people as a company. Be prepared to think in new ways.
  6. Since social media is community oriented, contributing to one’s community is essential. It’s not enough to communicate just to customers or to prospects.
  7. Traditional push marketing and list building techniques are usually regarded as spam and are ineffective in the social media world. Old and new media approaches tend to be incompatible. In the social marketing paradigm information is made available online for discovery and hopefully action, and this process isn’t something that can be forced.
  8. Most newcomers to social marketing think one dimensionally and latch onto fads such as the social media site du jour. Social marketing isn’t one site or one strategy fits all. Once again I recommend Social Media Targeting for People and Businesses.
  9. Social media is still evolving rapidly and tends to be a moving target. While social media is global, participation in non-English speaking countries is stilted towards English speaking demographics such as students and upper classes. Remain alert to changes in technology and new opportunities that are bound to occur.
  10. Social media can work against a brand, not just for it — and can be very unforgiving. However, this is true even if companies elect not to use it for marketing or for their public relations. It’s therefore better to be proactive than reactive.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are all important issues. I hope deal with them individually and in more detail in subsequent posts.

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13 Responses to “Top 10 Social Marketing Challenges”

  1. DrErica on March 29th, 2009 4:28 pm

    I have joined many social media and business networking sites. There are not enough hours in the day to devote in all these different directions. So I have realized that I must select my most exciting, uplifting and beneficial sites to become involved with more regularly. I am still at the bottom of the social networking site learning curve, but it is an adventure to learn more and more. And - I am finding there is a lot of help out there from people like Larry Brauner.

  2. Julianne McLaughlin on March 29th, 2009 4:45 pm

    Excellent list and great information!

  3. Nicole French on March 29th, 2009 5:55 pm

    Great insight. I have found most people are intimidated by social media or they are in denial of its power. I appreciate you writing about the downside of social media as well as the positive. Thanks

  4. Sandra Gibson on March 29th, 2009 6:22 pm

    Hello All,

    Social networks can take up a lot of time. Try using Flock.

  5. Chris Lang on March 30th, 2009 12:42 am

    Hey it’s good to see you outside SMC!

    As a person who tackled social marketing from scratch and rose to the top in one year, I can definitely give this advice.

    Find one site you like and stick with it and only it. If it is work, ditch it. Social sites should be fun and they should ADD to your life in a positive way.

    When I was on Digg constantly I used to to consume breaking news, I still do.

    When I was huge into Facebook I was about making friends and sharing not just profit making links but I found out really [great women] love Battlestar Galactica. (new series)

    I still have many new female friends that I chat with that I made through searches for Facebookers that like the show. AND they are very intelligent and worldly.

    When I was into Social Marketing Central I made friends, real friends that I still love to call and many big marketers that I can go to for advice.

    Social marketing should add to you life, not be a drain on it and that is what will happen if you try to keep up on 10 sites.

    Right now I am into YouTube heavily. In fact YouTube just added Twitter links and Google Friend Connect just added 30 social bookmarking sites to the GFC widgets.

    There is a great video I [put up] on YouTube about Twitter and GFC.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS3DQfVR2sw

    SO, do one site at a time, enjoy it, take away real friends and great contacts.

    Pass go, make lots of money, rinse, repeat.

    Cheers! - Chris Lang

  6. Debbie Morgan on March 30th, 2009 1:58 pm

    Hi Larry! Thanks for pulling the cons together for us. I actually enjoy talking to potential customers and getting to know them. However, not everyone I talk to is a potential customer but I’ve learned that each lasting connection will have a purpose. After all, had it not been for my social networking efforts I wouldn’t have met you, Larry. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Deb

  7. Kikolani on April 2nd, 2009 4:05 pm

    I think some business owners don’t see social networking as marketing because they have more often seen employees wasting time on social networks. Plus, anything that doesn’t garner immediate results is also considered a waste. They just don’t see the value in the long run of building those networks.

    ~ Kristi

  8. Larry Brauner on April 2nd, 2009 6:04 pm

    Your very right Kristi.

    However, the problem goes far beyond marketing.

    Corporate management focuses on the short term in just about everything, because they assume that they’ll probably be somewhere else in the long term.

  9. bruplace on May 11th, 2009 4:59 pm

    Very nice post> I am a webmaster for a social site for my country. It is a very hard process to get established as you have lots of other sites such as Facebook as your competitors, but we focus on local content and people, and hopefully in due time, we will succeed. Thanks for the good read in any case.

  10. Tolleck winner on May 12th, 2009 1:31 pm

    Hi Larry,

    Just to say, you are an inspiration to social networking :-)

    Thank you,

    Tolleck Winner

  11. Top 10 Reasons for Social Marketing | birdbathBUZZ on August 31st, 2009 8:50 pm

    […] Social marketing is different from other forms of Internet marketing. I write about the unique challenges that social media marketing poses in Top 10 Social Media Challenges. […]

  12. Larry on April 13th, 2011 11:43 am

    While social networks can be entertaining, they often result in more isolation via electronic relationships and allow individuals to reduce or eliminate actual social interaction. Physical chemistry and emotional relationships are less possible via the Internet. We are creating generations of individuals who are losing the skills of social interaction and the pleasure and pain of that interaction, what life is actually about.

  13. Caitlin Ryan on June 21st, 2011 7:59 am

    Larry - you make an excellent point about the isolation factor of social networks. I am always reading about the use of social networks and know that they are a powerful way to keep in touch with friends but they also are a way to isolate yourself. Then when I think about the marketing aspect, I have that kind of negative feeling about the idea of using social networks for marketing as Larry Brauner notes in this column, there are negative organizational attitudes towards it. Well all the points he makes are so valid. There is a steep learning curve (I still struggle with Twitter) and it is easy to get lost in it. Anyway, the point is that this column makes me feel less like a clueless person in social media. It’s not just me — it’s the nature of the media.

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