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4 common syndromes that are killing social media marketing


Companies are struggling with social media marketing. Oh, you may not read headlines about this. You may not hear CMOs admitting this. But make no mistake about it, many are having a tough time.

Many of the reasons are legit, too. Content shock is a real thing–so, so, so much content to compete with out there. Social teams are stretched thinner than ever before. And while social media budgets have indeed soared the last number of years, it’s usually marketing that’s in charge and many of those folks tend to devote most of those dollars to paid media vs. content creation and other forms of social that are working much better in 2022.

HOWEVER, some of the other reasons we’re not seeing the success we want are our own fault. I hear about it from friends who manage social. And I see it in the audits and strategy work I do for brands.

There are four common “syndromes” I see happening on a fairly consistent basis that are standing in our way of success:

The “I need my own channel” syndrome

More prevalent with larger companies, obviously. But, a huge issue and obstacle for matrixed organizations with many business units and regional offices and companies. Sometimes, it does make sense for these business units and offices to have their own channels. But, I would in many cases it does not–for 2 big reasons. 1) It’s hard to stand up a social channel and keep it going month after month. It’s a huge investment and many do not see that at the front end, and 2) Many marketing teams don’t have the talent to pull it off. They might think they do, or hire out for it, but in many cases they learn they don’t have the skills and/or the agency they hired to manage said account doesn’t either.

The “We need to post 40 times a month so I can prove we’re doing something” syndrome

One of the key findings I usually uncover in every audit I’ve done over the last 3-4 years has been this: Ratchet back your posting frequency–A LOT. This is rampant, across many industries. And, I think it boils down to this thinking: If I’m posting once or twice a day on every social media platform my boss will think we’re doing a great job because we’re pushing so much content out there. That has to be the thinking. Because if it’s not, I have no idea what these folks are thinking. If you look at the results of companies who post 30, 40 or 50 times a month, they’re usually not flattering. Engagement is usually very low. And, they’re expending A LOT of energy producing all that content. The other angle at play here is around agency support. Companies will often outsource content development to agencies. Well, it’s in the agency’s best interests to amp up that content, right? The more content, the more money they get paid. Why would they encourage the client to post fewer times? They wouldn’t bring in as much revenue. This is a huge problem in our industry.

The “We need to use social media to drive traffic to our web site even if all the metrics tell us that is not happening” syndrome

The other thing I see in almost all my audits recently: Brands trying to use social to drive traffic with very little proof it’s working. Most brands I’ve reviewed over the last few years are including links in almost every post on social. Yet, when I go to visit their Google Analytics to see how much traffic those social posts are driving, I see very, very low numbers. But again, we keep doing it because, I guess, the bosses like it? I can’t come up with a reason why we continue to see this. I get a lot of “why wouldn’t we just include a link, just to give people the option?” Folks, no one is clicking on our links. People don’t want the option. They don’t want to go off-platform. The platforms don’t want people to go off-platform. It’s time to give up the ghost on driving traffic. Yet, people seem stubbornly tied to this approach.

The “We want great social media results, but we don’t want to take any risks” syndrome

In the era of “content shock”, which we are smack dab in the middle of right now, creating anything less that extraordinary content is almost a waste of time. We see it every day in our feeds. Lame brand content that generates no engagement. The best example I can think of quickly is brand content celebrating real and made-up “holidays”. This is the definition of “going through the motions”. It’s rarely going to produce the results we want, yet we continue to do it. Why? Because we’re afraid to take big risks. The companies that ARE taking big risks? They’re being rewarded–handsomely. Time for the rest of us to get used to taking a few risks once in a while.



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