8 flaws in your social media plan (and how to fix them)

Here are some signs it’s time to go back to the drawing board.


In light of the recent Facebook IPO, the message is clear: The gap between business and social business is quickly closing.

As businesses try to adapt and understand what this change means for their futures, there is naturally a lot of room for mistakes. We’re in largely uncharted waters. For example, according to an Altimeter Report published last summer, the average company grapples with 178 social media accounts.

As organizations try to adapt and institute new social media plans, it’s important to understand which are succeeding.

With so much emphasis on social media, it is no longer acceptable to “give social media a try.” Today, organizations must fully embrace it if they wish to be successful. However, that includes a large cultural change. In a recent Fast Company post, David Lavenda outlines eight warning signs your strategy isn’t working.

1. Key users aren’t interested.

“Analysts estimate that approximately a third of workers will download and share new technology, with or without corporate approval,” Lavenda says. That’s an impressive amount.

If you ignore or suppress these early adopters, you will create an insurmountable resistance. Lavenda points out that “… ignoring them [these early adopters] squanders your biggest advantage.” Instead, try to reach out to these individuals. They are your biggest ally when it comes to corporate change.

2. You have tool overload.

Despite what you may think, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Too many tools can be frustrating and derail your social media plan. This is a problem many organizations face.

Lavenda believes “We are in the midst of an adoption cycle that mirrors that of email in the early ’90s.” Lavenda likens the current situation to the early ’90s by stating, “… imagine working with two email systems today, one to communicate with internal colleagues and one for external contacts.”

Eventually we’ll see a consolidation, but until then it’s important not to get overwhelmed with all the tools out there.

3. There are unclear business objectives.

While a bit obvious, it’s important to highlight that technology-driven projects are a recipe for failure.

4. The plan ignores key stakeholders.

Part of the challenge of instituting new strategic plans is being able to accept change. Lavenda points out that “If your project manager is a bulldozer type who tells key stakeholders that he ‘knows better’ because he has already done five such projects, you’re headed for trouble, big time.”

5. There is an inevitable IT-business fight.

This will happen at some point, but it helps if IT realizes “… they have to support the business to make initiatives, such as social business work. IT’s alternative is the (slow) decline of budgets and eventual demise.”

6. You don’t have an internal champion.

As is the case with most new strategies, an internal champion is an important element for success. It will be a bitter, uphill battle if you try to force a top-down social initiative.

Lavenda writes, “It’s much easier to leverage the excitement of existing users by getting them to be social at departmental or division levels, first.”

7. You fail to communicate the plan’s value.

If you fail to effectively communicate the benefits a social strategy brings to the workplace, you will quickly head down the path to failure. Employees need to understand the value in being active in a social initiative and what it means to their everyday work responsibilities.

8. You use a rip-and-replace strategy.

Put quite simply, a “rip and replace” strategy won’t work. People are averse to change, and instituting a strategy that ignores the daily habits of employees is, according to Lavenda, “the biggest failure factor in the list.” Instead, incorporate a new strategy while acknowledging the old routines of employees.

I hope these red flags help you gain a better understanding of whether your social media plans work. If you see these warning signs, you’ll now know your social media strategy isn’t working and it’s time to rethink what you are doing.

Troy Larson is the social media specialist for Mindjet, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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