Why Businesses Struggle With Social Media ... And What To Do About It
Why Businesses Struggle With Social Media … And What To Do About It
Why Businesses Struggle With Social Media … And What To Do About It

Social media marketing is not easy. At its core, you’re trying to market to audiences that broadly do not wish to be marketed to. While there are exceptions, and mainstream consumers aren’t as fervent about getting rid of advertising messages in their precious social spaces as the echo chamber, you’re still pushing a boulder up hill.

People don’t go to Facebook looking for commerce or brands. They go there looking for their friend’s latest update on her kids or a family member’s update on his job search. They go there to play silly games and waste time.

People don’t go to Twitter looking for brands to follow. They go for conversation and have, over time and probably accidentally, occasioned upon a company account that serves some usefulness in sharing content or similar.

People don’t go to LinkedIn hoping to check out the latest ads companies have launched there. They go do scout for prospective customers or beg people for informational interviews.

And People don’t go to Google+ hoping to see the latest coupon update from the manager of the local Payless Shoes. They go to find content from interesting people or share pictures of their kids or something silly they saw at the park.

English: Potter at work on potter's wheel.
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Ere go it’s hard to market through social media. Brands are still, and will probably always be, interlopers here. This doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. It doesn’t mean their messages will always fall on deaf ears. It just means success takes working hard to reach consumers and doing things differently than before.

All the social media purists and evangelists in the world can give you all their tokens of advice. And, as a company or brand, you can take the advice, implement it and have some success in social media. And yes, you can have failure, too. But you will never drive social media success in your company until you do one thing:

Craft a compelling message

It doesn’t matter if you’re “human” as a company. It doesn’t matter if you “join the conversation.” And, no, it doesn’t matter if you respond quickly to whiny bastards on Twitter.

If you can’t offer up a message to your audience that makes them pull back, double take and say, “Holy shit! That’s cool!” You’re just going to be another hack trying to “engage.”

And even if you do craft that message, if you aren’t able to promote the message and get it in front of people, it won’t matter. The web is not an environment where if you build it, they will come. You have to build it, promote the crap out of it, beg people to look at it, then remind them again to go see it. If they do AND it’s a “Holy Shit, this is cool,” message, then you’ve got something.

And then there’s the scale factor. Some messages will blow everyone’s mind. Others will only appeal to a few select folks. As long as those few select folks are potential buyers, you’re still going to see results. But if the message drives an audience that doesn’t match the brand’s target population, you’ve wasted your time.

So for today, forget about your editorial calendar. Put down the keyboard and let that blog post wait. Stop Tweeting meaningless drivel about your product or some silly event coming up.

Do something to help you not struggle.

Close your eyes. Picture your ideal customer — the one who will not only buy what you’re selling, but love it, love you for making it and tell all their friends about it. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Become that person for a minute, if just in your imagination.

Now imagine you, as that person, are reading a blog post, seeing a Tweet scroll by or browsing the stream on Facebook to see what interesting things are happening there. And then ask yourself:

“What message would make me stop, double take and say, ‘Holy Shit! That’s cool!'”

Now, go back to your editorial calendar, blog or Tweet. And write THAT.

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About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
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  • Hi Jason, Thanks for all the knowledge   I also think that one problem why some people struggle with online marketing/social media is that they lack the access to affordable and expert resources that would assist them in using online techniques more effectively. And although there are free resources around, sadly these people don’t take advantage.All the best, Nadine

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  • Jason, I completely disagree with you… on one point. Social marketing is extremely easy. It is a matter of getting business owners to stop thinking in terms of sales channel and replace those thoughts with “what can I bring to the party?”. That one small shift in thinking completely changes the game. The challenging part is finding time. The “blast and dash” social media strategy of many business owners is, I think, completely attributable to their lack of time. 

  • Starting my first job as a full-time social media manager in January. I’m printing this and hanging it in my cube! Such a great reminder to step back and make it about what the consumer wants and needs. Can’t wait to discover that “Holy shit!” message. Thanks Jason!

  • People have to make struggle with social media not because of the competition or not because of the people only do social activities. But they have to face more struggle as they started to use the social media without planning and without  thinking about the intention. So if anyone use the social media with the best strategy then can get the best results and without much effort. And thanks for such nice point discussion and information.

  • “It doesn’t matter if you’re “human” as a company.  It doesn’t matter if you “join the conversation…”

    I had to stop and re-read this.  As a community manager, I’m always talking about “voice”.  You’re so right though – without the message, one really cares about your voice, about joining in the conversation, or responding on Twitter.  While I still believe all of that is important, if you can’t make someone stop and say “Wait, what?” – there’s no point.

    Thank you for making me stop, think, and take a look at some of my current strategies.

  • Ali Alidoost

    Jason, Other thing you may consider, today’s marketers have been
    spending a significant amount of their time leveraging social media channels
    with customer interaction, collaboration, and idea generation being the main
    incentives for them to jump on such the social media bandwagon. Despite all
    that, search engines are still the king when it comes to online marketing.
    That said, it is a business imperative to consider both
    avenues – search and social media in your marketing strategy. Sometimes the
    issue is convincing people why resources need to be committed in these areas at
    all. While more often, the conflict is whether to invest in one marketing
    strategy more than the other. What is obvious is that you can’t just focus on
    one because you will be missing out on potential visitors from the other. The
    ideal solution is to find a way where you can manage social media and search
    engines on regular basis to drive desired behaviors and results.
    One of the tools we have been using to achieve this goal is the Q&A feature on awesomize.me With their Q&A
    feature we have our cake and eat it too :)
    The reason is simple – Facebook and LinkedIn are kind of
    semi closed networks. They provide limited access for Google and other search
    engines to index their content – including the Q&A discussions posted by
    the users on their sites. However, awesomize.me which includes the link to all
    your social media channels is a completely open platform. This will make every
    page on awesomize.me accessible to the search engines including the Q&As.
    Now when I do a Google search on my name  my awesomize.me pages rank higher than my
    Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter page. Better yet – it even ranks higher than my
    Google+ pages! The same rule applies for all the Q&A pages I’ve create on

  • Anonymous

    Spot on!  I think that social media is just a journey; not your destination.. and I wonder if we are really defining ROI right.  Is it return on investment or return on influence?  Marketing activity is an expense, not an investment.. just a thought.  But your suggestions here make perfect sense.  And I love this last line as well: “What message would make me stop, double take and say, ‘Holy Shit! That’s cool!’” Something to think about.  Thanks & Happy Holidays!

  • I kinda think that same principle applies anywhere else too: ads on the tv are interlopers — when they come on, we put the kettle on, or flick to another channel (often now, we land on another ad on another channel and hop again). Direct snail mail too — an interloper to the day, opened over the wastebasket. Magazines we buy for editorial, not ads. Billboards are the only things we can’t really switch off.They all need to be relevant or ‘Holy Shit! That’s cool!’richardhttp://wordfruit.com/blog

  • “Holy shit! That’s cool!”
    It’s posts like this one Jason that keep me saying, You. Are. The. Man. Well said, dude. Straightforward. To the point. Simple … yet not easy.

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  • Jennifer Erchul

    So true! This is a message I spread to my clients, too! People aren’t interested in boring business brags. They want to be wowed, engaged, enticed! Thanks for the good read-you make it seem so easy!

  • David Philippe

    The best post about social media I read in a long time :-)

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  • Anonymous

    Your point about thinking like a customer is how we’ve approached being a social B2B since mid 2007 and it’s spot on! While I think of “traditional” channels (news release, website, direct mail) answering the quesiton, “What do we want to tell our customers?”, I think success in social is asking, “What do our customers need to know — about us, the industry, politics, the future?” We’ve approached social as being an information resource about the industry v. a narrow approach of focusing on us. Your push to get peole/brands to engage is critical.


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