Are You Still Struggling With Social Media? You Are Not Alone.

Author: Arnaud Grobet

Business Problem: Crisis and Frustration

The epic fail with social media for so many is the lack of strategy and an integrated digital marketing approach.

Billions of consumers around the world and across all demographics are continuing to use social media in record breaking numbers. You’ve seen all the latest statistics. Global Web Index now reports 72% of all online Internet users are now active with social media. If that doesn’t put it into perspective, a recent Gallop study reported some amazing daily statistics that represent just how much social media has infiltrated our everyday lives.

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On a daily basis:

  1. – Facebook users post 4.75 billion items of content
  2. – Twitter users send 400 million tweet
  3. – Instagram users “like” 1.2 billion photos
  4. – YouTube users watch 4 billion videos

There can be little dispute that social media has indeed changed the world in the way people communicate, engage with one another, and consume information. As a marketing professional, you know this presents a host of opportunities. But you also know there are plenty of challenges.

If you are in marketing today and working in a mid-to-small size company, your job is likely getting more difficult with each passing day.

Setting social media aside, you are faced with mounting pressure to justify budget spends. You typically have to do more that spans all facets of offline and online marketing on smaller budgets with fewer resources than peers within larger companies. And most importantly, you are likely being held ever more accountable for delivering bottom line, performance-based results – namely direct influence on sales and revenues.

With a growing list of increased job expectations, social media and its complexities may appear formidable for being able to realize and demonstrate an ROI. It’s simply not easy, and especially when CEOs and CMOs are expecting you to figure it all out without missing a stride in reaching your marketing goals.

Strategic #Fail

First-hand experience working with organizations of all sizes reveal mid-to-small size companies continue to struggle when it comes to practicing social media. Loosely defined organizational strategies coupled with misaligned tactics all too often fall short and underperform to satisfy expectations of C-Suite executives. But social media doesn’t have to be so difficult. It doesn’t have to be a struggle if you are strategic in its approach.

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The underlying problem of strategy remains to be one of the biggest obstacles in digital marketing today. According to a recent report published by Ascend2, a U.S. based research firm, more than half of survey respondents, taken from a sampling of more than 300 digital marketing executives worldwide, indicated strategy was at the top of their list of issues for not fully achieving digital marketing goals. The survey also revealed social media was the most difficult part of the digital marketing mix to execute.

So when we link the two together, we can begin to see the connection as to why so many companies continue to struggle with their social media initiatives. Without a digital strategy, without a social media strategy, and without an integrated digital marketing strategy, how can there be any expectations for success? However, you cannot use this as an excuse or see it as an obstacle that cannot be overcome.

A clear vision

You must understand that digital marketing and the use of social media must start with a vision. It should not be lead by technology. Nor should it be lead by simply being able to set up a presence on one or more of the many platforms (channels) that may be available. It’s simply not – and never has been a scenario of ‘If you build it, they will come’. With a clear vision focused on business goals, you can be strategic. You can build a foundation for which an integrated digital marketing strategy can come to life. And you can find success with your social media efforts.

As Brian Solis, principal analyst with Altimeter Group and a recognized keynote speaker and author, states,

Successful digital transformation does not come from implementing new technologies, but instead from transforming the organization to take advantage of new possibilities that new technology provides.

For companies continuing to struggle with social media, the current and fundamental underlying problem is highlighted in a recent survey commissioned by DNN Software and conducted by Lawless Research. By short cutting the investment required to develop an integrated digital marketing strategy, and which includes social media, many organizations are prioritizing execution above strategy in an attempt to get ahead of the rapid development of online platforms. This is completely 360 degrees backward.

As this direction propagates and is reinforced from within the organization, the use of social media as a powerful and persuasive part of the marketing mix is marginalized to drive real business value.

Sound strategy has always been the cornerstone of any effective marketing effort. And as digital marketers continue to delay developing robust integrated digital marketing strategies, the use and potential rewards of social media will never materialize.

Work Smarter [Not Harder]…

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So what are marketing departments within mid-size companies to do? Well, the easy answer… work smarter [not harder] and more strategically. If you have already invested in an integrated digital marketing strategy, job well done!   If not, you must start there.

There are several key principles that should not be overlooked when developing your integrated digital marketing strategy. Think beyond the basics and take into account your company’s own business objectives, fiscal plans and sales goals, then align your strategies to that agenda using all digital touch points that are mapped in the consumer journey.

Your digital marketing components should work seamlessly together across brand consistency, content marketing, websites, SEO, SEM, social media, mobile, email and analytics.

Measurable steps and smart questions

Once you have made the required investment in your digital strategy, you’ll be able to define realistic, measurable social media strategies that can reinforce your business goals for influence and ROI. Think incremental and measurable steps. Over time, let these strategies evolve as success builds, while keeping social media aligned to your digital efforts along the way.

Questions you should seek to answer as you define your social media strategies may include:

  1. – Do my social media goals support greater business goals?
  2. – Are the social media strategies and tactics outlined attainable?
  3. – How can we align social media with departmental key stakeholders?
  4. – What is our brand voice and how do we adapt that for social media?
  5. – How can we align social media with departmental key stakeholders?
  6. – What is our brand voice and how do we adapt that for social media?
  7. – How do we create lasting, memorable brand experiences?
  8. – How do we integrate social media with our online and offline efforts?
  9. – What processes are in place to test, learn and adjust as necessary?
  10. – What resources, human and technologies, do we need to flourish?
  11. – What systems should be used to measure and analyze business ROI?

However, please keep in mind – the days of chasing Fans and Likes as arbitrary, vanity metrics in social media is over. Although you may need to build a critical mass in Fans and Followers to achieve your goals, how you engage with them and how you create brand experiences is so much more important than the number of people you may have following you on Facebook. For everything you do, it needs to be quality over quantity. Reaching and influencing qualified target audiences through brand experiences.

Are You Ready to Be Strategic?

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You know you need to have a social media presence. You may already have a social media presence. But you now know that if you are not inherently focused on linking your social media strategies to all your other digital marketing efforts, and more importantly to your overall business goals, you’re simply not planning for long-term success. You should never act impulsively. You need to always be strategic in everything you do.   At the end of the day, it’s about working smarter and not harder.

Your strategic foundation should now be viewed critical to realizing success with your digital marketing efforts and social media. How much investment you make in it, how well it is thought out, and how well you can execute it will be the three primary determining factors that will ultimately dictate your future success.

Social media can be a strategic tool. It should be a strategic tool. Your approach simply needs to be strategically applied with specific KPIs mapped to business goals for you to find measurable success. If you need help, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss with you your situation and needs.

What do you think? Are you being as strategic as you can be with your digital marketing and social media efforts? What advice would you have for others?  What experiences do you have? Please feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations in the comment section below.

Up Next

In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to explore with you ideas and thoughts for how best to practice digital marketing and social media.  Up next, What You Should Know about Real-Time Marketing.

Daniel McKean.


Daniel McKean is a digital brand analyst for the Emakina Group and is based in Los Angeles, California.  His focus is on helping companies align their digital ecosystems to business best practices and ROI.  He has an impressive track record for delivering business results mapped to corporate goals and objectives for an assortment of global brands across a diverse range of industries.


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