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The #1 Reason People Fail at Social Media

I have been working in social media now for more than a decade and I have pretty much seen it all – from really nasty trolls to people still trying to using old school tactics to misusing channels and on and on.  In reality though the #1 reason people fail at social media is basic and completely avoidable and here’s how:

The #1 Reason People Fail at Social Media, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormadecanada.com

Not knowing your audience is actually quiet significant.  If you don’t know who you are speaking to, it is hard to speak their language.  For example, if you have kids you know that each child has his or her own personality.  The tone and words you use with one child may not work as well with another.  The same is true for your prospects and customers.  If you only speak in your industry lingo and/or use terms that they don’t use, you might as well be speaking klingon.

Also keeping with this theme is the fact that if you don’t know your audience, you don’t likely know where they are hanging out, what they are reading, what forums they belong to, what social networks, etc.  In the good ole days, if we had big budgets we could throw a bunch of money at newspaper and/or trade magazine ads and we were likely to catch the attention of many.  This is not as effective today.  Instead, we need to be better informed.  We need to know and understand all of these pieces of information about our customers.  So, how do you do this?  Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Develop Customer Personas

Customer personas are fictional representations of your prospects or customers that help you segment them, determine what role they play in the buying decision, what interests they have, how they make decisions and more.  When done well, they really make a difference for marketing your product and/or service.

2.  Don’t Jump into Social Media

Ideally, you will seek guidance on how best to approach using social. But, if you can’t do that, never jump right in.  First “listen.”  In the “business” this means sign up for some networks and learn how to use the tool – I mean actually use it, but without pushing or promoting your business.  First just listen and watch to see how are others are using it.  Here are some quick reads to help you:

3.  Hire for Expertise 

On more than a few occasions I have met and worked with people who, for whatever reason, didn’t want to hire a person with marketing expertise.  Instead they hired believing that the person could acquire experience over time.  It didn’t work out.  Most people I know don’t have that luxury of time in their business.

That’s where I came in.  As a Marketing Practitioner with a great deal of experience, I and people like me can at the very least, guide you through the process and help you make SMART hiring decisions.  I have helped more than a few business owners through this process by developing their strategy with them, including policies, processes, etc.  Then I helped them hire people who while not having all the experience and expertise, have the potential.  As a result, the new hires have a higher probability of success.  They have the road map, policies and processes to guide them through the initial days.  I also prepare a learning plan and act as mentor during a set and agreed upon period.

There is of course more to marketing that what I am eluding to above, but it is a starting point.  And, if you have additional points or insight to add, please chime in. Comments are of course welcome.

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Don’t Feed the Trolls – Research Reveals Psychopathy

For any person managing a company blog, Facebook Page or other online asset, we all know and think about the trolls.  We advise, and are advised by, others to not feed the trolls.  Now new research out of Canada confirms what we all knew – online trolls have psychopathic tendencies.

Image courtesy of www.geeky-gadgets.com

Image courtesy of www.geeky-gadgets.com

Years ago I worked at a company that was pretty innovative in a number of areas.  In fact like many innovative environments, not everyone is pleased with the direction that the innovation is headed.  Some people who feel that they are losing control become embittered and look for ways to cause chaos.  While all this was bubbling under the surface and it was for the most part hidden, it would soon boil to the top when we launched our Facebook page for customer interactions.

Of course we trained and prepared our staff how to handle external discord.  We were prepared for that.  What we were less prepared for however, was that of the trolls who clearly surfaced from within the organization.  As someone who was very proud to work for the organization it was very disheartening and alarming to see very personal and abusive attacks being made against certain people.  I can’t articulate just how bad it was.  Eventually we had to take steps to ban the offender or offenders.  We finally found a solution, but it took awhile.

Over the years since this “experience” I have shared the details with many social media thought-leaders and they were quite perplexed.  They found the circumstances extreme and were actually shocked when I shared some of the actual posts.  It was one of the worst attacks that they had heard about.

Needless to say the posts were vicious and unrelenting.  At the time I couldn’t help but wonder what was driving the person or persons to behave in this manner.  I worried about the mental state of someone who could act in this way.  Research released earlier this month by Canadian researchers Erin Buckels, a University of Manitoba psychology graduate student, and psych professors Paul Trapnell of the University of Winnipeg and Delroy Paulhus of the University of British Columbia, found the trolls were “Machiavellian in their manipulation of others and their disregard for morality.”  Most disturbing however, is the finding that this is not an online phenomenon, but rather something that they like o do every day, whether on line or not.  If you think about this, the ramifications are quite serious.

How to handle trolls depends on the situation.  In my case, we probably should have just ignored them, but it was difficult when it was such a disturbing attack on members of the executive.  It was hard for employees to look at the posts when monitoring.  More recently however, Dominos did an excellent job at addressing a troll.  Here are some of the tweets:

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So, how did Domino’s do?  They did a great job.  They stuck to message and no doubt have a great Playbook that helped guide them through this.  They also kept the responses to a smaller audience.  The trolls made sure that everyone could see their posts by using a “.” at the beginning of their tweets.  When Domino’s responded however, they did not respond the same way. Instead, they just responded to the offender.  As a result, only the people following both the troll and the Domino’s could see the response.  By doing this they aren’t making a big deal of this.  In the end, they shut it down.

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