Ten social media problems that drive marketers nuts

Trying to deliver measurable business results from social media marketing can be frustrating. My friend and {grow} community member James Adams has been plowing this ground for some time now and in this guest post shares his personal view of his biggest annoyances …

“Use social media marketing to build your business.” Sure, these are captivating buzzwords, but few understand how difficult marketing through social sites can be until they try it!  I’m learning this from experience.  The truth is that social media marketing is difficult work.  To help minimize the impact of this frustration on the beginning marketer, here are my Top 10 annoyances as I try to market through the social web and a few comments on how I’m dealing with them:

1. Marketing for producing votes – Users of sites like Digg and Reddit rate links, allowing some to soar and others to languish in obscurity. When I found myself trying to write to secure votes and work the system, I decided to re-focus on simply creating quality content in spite of the kind ratings I get.

2. Converting followers – I have hundreds, perhaps thousands of followers: Now what? Followers are not the same as sales leads are they?   I’ve learned to think differently about expectations and conversion rates. Over time, buyers will come, but you need to be patient and accept a low conversion rate as you focus on building relationships, not quick sales.

3. Dealing with spammers, flamers, freaks, and dissenters – I find few things as annoying as having some troll following me around wherever I go kicking up dirt. I found that on some sites you can allow other users to rate comments driving out the problems, but be prepared: some of these people never go away. I deal with them gracefully, ignoring most of what they say and do most of the time.

4. Creating consistent content – Creating content that is consistent and excellent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a marketer.  The ideas are one thing.  Finding the time to do it is another.  I handled this by getting on a schedule. I budget my time like I do money and somehow I make it stretch until I can get everything done.

5. Platform pressure – One blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account is not enough any  more …  and you still need to get on YouTube and Linked in. I do the best I can on what I’m doing right now and don’t worry about expanding too quickly.

6. Standing out – It is getting really crowded out here. I find it challenging to be different in social media, especially when you have to sell a legitimate product and be heard above all the MLM and other spammers out there with far more resources than me!  I have tried drawing, promos, and special games and have had some success. Ultimately, I find that participation and real engagement is more important than being cute.

7. Building a brand online – Developing goodwill and brand recognition is challenging and frustrating. I find that persistence is the key; keep at it over time and one day you will wake up at the helm of a well- known, well-respected brand. I’m finding it might be better to consistently show up rather than show off.

8. Finding quality help – Learning the best practices in social media marketing is difficult: most of the free advice out there is what you already know, and paying for training can be perilous with all the schlocky gurus around. I’m finding that identifying some consistently reliable resources like Mark’s blog can be my best teacher.  What resources do you rely on?

9. Leveraging social media for public relations – Even if you don’t sell, you want to find ways to cut through the clutter and  use social media marketing to promote your business. This can be frustrating, but by offering some free advice and real life examples of how my business has made the world better, I have had some success.

10. Putting my brand in the hands of others — If you focus on social media, what happens when your favorite site becomes changes the terms of their conditions, makes dramatic interface changes or becomes “uncool” and goes out of business? What are you going to do when Facebook or another platform gets hacked, bringing your marketing effort to a screeching halt? Remember when MySpace was the ultimate venue? I am learning to buffer myself from the failure of others by giving most of my attention to what Google, Bing, and Yahoo can do for me and owning my content.

So these are some of my concerns and frustrations. As you market on the social web, what are YOU finding out there?

James Adams covers the latest gadgets and tech announcements as well as writing detailed reviews of hardware like the CLI-521 at an ink cartridges supplier based England.

Illustration: toothpaste for dinner.com
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  • Hi, James. In #6, what is MLM — marketing loud mouths? I’m fascinated with your attempts to jump onto every platform, app and outlet including getting votes, ranks, contest wins and more. What are your objectives? Are you aligning your social media efforts to sales, building brand, or having fun?

    I’m not asking this to offend you; genuinely interested b/c you have way more experience tapping social media than I.

    Sustainability on this quest is the number one challenge…sounds like you may be tiring…?

    Thank you — @Soulati

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  • “Consistently show up rather than show off” is brilliant. I hate showoffs, and I don’t think I’m alone. But you’d never know it from their abundance on the social web.

    This is another way of saying one should be authentic and engaged, but NOT a bore, a braggart or an obnoxious self-promoter.

  • Mark

    @Jayme — MLM = Multi Level Marketing. You know, the “Trump Network” et al. You can read an explanation here:

    http://www.businessesgrow.com/2010/02/07/twitters-biggest-scams-part-1-mlm/

    @Steve — Agree! Thanks for commenting today!

  • Brad Lovett

    This is a little off topic, but I just found a way to make millions in my PJs! (I HATE those and wonder what MLM upline trains their people to post comments like that inapropriately, and thinks it will actually work. (If they already were making millions in their PJs, why aren’t they just continuing to make millions?)

  • Social Media Marketing is not an easy task, it takes time, effort and patience. I particularly like the mention of the consistent content, it is so important to put out consistent quality content, it really does make a difference to be seen as a value in the online space putting out great content.

    Showing up rather than showing off is huge too. People don’t want a self promoter, constantly talking about me, me, me is going to get you nothing but a poor following, showing up (or in this case having a consistent presence) is much more effective than showing off and self promoting.

  • Mark

    @Brad — OMG yo made me spit out my coffee. So funny! Ain’t it the truth! Hapily, Twitter is not as bad as it used to be! Thanks Brad!

    @Nick — Thanks for taking the time to offer your perspective Nick.

  • Social media is like a gym training. It takes time and patient to grow “muscle” and get noticed by people.

    We need to constantly “pump the iron” to grow despite the slow “muscle growth”. If we give up halfway. It will never grow.

    Sometimes we feel tired because we’re overdoing everything like we’re training in the gym. So take a few days rest and come back.

    Guess this happens to all of us. Marketers thought there is a short cut in growing the “muscles”

    Love #4 and #6.

    Cheers James.

    Aaron.

  • #2 “…focus on building relationships, not quick sales.” AMEN! Now if the c-suite would understand that I’d be good! Great article Mark!

  • Sounds like good advise. Being new to this I am particularly concerned about my ignorance of what could go wrong given a motivated heretic ala item #3 above.

    I like the cocktail party full of ‘friends’ behavioral model for social media. How many people would go to a cocktail party comprised of all insurance sales people…even if they provided alcohol? Alright…maybe a bunch of drunks.

    Good piece.

  • Mark

    @Aaron — You are so very wise. My theory is that you really are Yoda in disguise. What a wonderful comment. Thank you!

    @Susan — Thank you so much!

    @Bob — Oh I probably would. If the beer was good. : )

  • This is a really solid post. I have been using Social Media Socially since Friendster came out. Before ‘communities’ and ‘monetizing attempts’. Then slowly expanded to include using it professionally. I don’t care what any ‘Guru’ claims. If they have not personally built a community for a second party or your own business (not personal brand which is hard enough), they are talking out their butts.

    Its really hard. It takes effort and dedication. Viral is nonsense.

    Social was not built as Ad/Marketing Platforms, vs a People Connecting Platform. Part of it is UI problems, part of it is user context(are they receptive to marketing at this moment), and part of it is volume related (I get 2700 tweets a day into my twitter stream).

    And you also learn that most of the Experts you see on Mashable, Writing Books, and in the Trade News don’t know what they are talking about.

  • The list could not be more precise! The cluttering through the noise is the biggest challenge a marketer faces today. And it is this noise..which confuses and misguides him.

    -Anshul

  • James Adams

    @Soulati – Hi there Jayme, thanks for the question. MLM stands for multi level marketing and can also be referred to as network marketing.
    I think it’s a little bit of both when you’re building up an online profile – you’re creating and developing a personal brand, which in turn generates sales. They come hand in hand, and of course you may have some fun in the process. I’m not tiring of the whole thing exactly, I’m just voicing some common frustrations with the trade 🙂 Like any occupation there are a few pitfalls and it’s always good to talk abotu them.

    @Steve – I agree! You just need to keep it real and really find common ground with the people you interact with on the web. It’s better to identify with people and relate to them than act aloof and unapproachable.

  • James Adams

    @Brad – Haha, too true! It is so spammy, and so very annoying. The fact that it’s more than a little misleading makes comments like that even more frustrating.

    @Nick – It’s important that you don’t just talk about yourself, but actually provide some information that people find useful! Showing up is also about showing support, proving that you’re valuable to your supporters.

  • James Adams

    @Aaron – Thanks, nice analogy! It is exactly like that, you’ve got to build it up over time and hard work 🙂

    @ Susan and RJ – Thanks for the comments! RJ, don’t worry about being a newbie…you’ll find you’ll get more fluent as you go along, and learning is always satisfying 🙂

  • James Adams

    @Howie – Too true. You find a lot of phonies online because it’s just so easy to join networks and connect with people, at very little cost too, I might add. People need to be more aware and ensure that they’re making the right choices when they check out these “gurus” online.

    @Anshul – Too true…you’ve got to overcome that noise and ensure you don’t wander from the path. sticking to your objectives is incredibly important!

  • Sure it can be a little frustrating but definitely never giving up is the key to success. Definitely building PR is way better than any advertising media, more personal that way and it really communicates to the consumers.

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  • Nice article, I’ve enjoyed to read it.

  • Hey James, great post.  I was wondering if you have discovered any tools that have help eliminate/limit your frustrations.  Which tools would you recommend?  What is the biggest thing missing in these tools that you wish it had?  Thanks.  

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  • I keep learning new things every day from post like these. Thanks

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