Why do most businesses fail at social media and digital marketing?

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Why do most businesses fail at social media and digital marketing?

Most businesses fail at social media and digital marketing because they don’t have a plan.

In Alberta, less than 50% of businesses are leveraging social media. This isn’t exactly a surprise if you spend any time talking to business owners, “Social Media doesn’t work” or “Our customers aren’t using social media” or “I don’t need social media, I have steady referrals.”

If you’ve set up a few social media profiles for your business, but haven’t seen the results you expected you may be wondering why it’s not working. Or maybe you’re thinking about launching social media for your business, but you want to avoid common mistakes. Below we cover off the most common reasons why businesses fail at social media. If you read on and have questions about social media or digital marketing – send me a message!

Don’t have a plan. In order to succeed, you have to have some type of plan in place. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive (you know the ones I mean, you work really hard to put in every last detail but then never look at it again.) The plan should be something that you can easily reference to keep you on track. Key components of your social media plan should include: goal/objective, an audit, competitive analysis, audience overview, content strategy and finally, a measurement plan that includes metrics and KPIs.

The plan is wrong. What happens a lot of the time is that businesses will just share their own sales messages on social channels .- they use them as broadcast networks and there’s too much push and not enough pull. Remember that Social Media is not a one-way broadcast medium like radio, TV or magazine ads. People go there to socialize, not be sold to – so if you’re entire plan is just “to sell” you won’t be successful. Be mindful of how you interact with your audience; some businesses ‘talk at’ their audience, rather than engaging them. To be successful you’ve got to think of it as any other relationship – you don’t jump into a relationship and ask for something right away, so rather than focusing entirely on sales, focus on building a community.

Don’t have the proper people in place. Social Media seems easy. I mean, all you need to do is set up a Facebook business page, post a couple of things and *BOOM* suddenly you’re a social media + digital marketing wizard. Here’s another common scenario; you set up social media profiles for your business and rely on regular employees to take turns managing them. Typically employees despise this extra work and don’t do a heck of a lot with it. Then your social channels just sit there collecting dust and not generating the awareness or leads you thought they would. The cold, hard truth is that launching a social media and digital marketing program that’s focused on business results can be complex. Organizations that succeed have dedicated professionals who have backgrounds in marketing and communications and they understand that social channels are no different than regular means of communication.

Lack proper budget to execute.  Social Media is technically free to set up, but there are indirect costs associated with it. You’ll need custom graphics (cover photo, profile picture) and you’ll either have to pay someone to develop content for you or spend your own time creating it. Even if you decide to do it all on your own, it’s still not free! You’re spending time to do it, so make sure you put a dollar amount on your time. Finally, I recommend to all my clients that they budget for social ads; even if you only want to start small with about $1000 per month you should still have all types of media in the mix (earned, owned, paid.)
Think of it as a standalone. There is a belief that businesses only need to ‘do social’ to have marketing success, but it actually should be integrated with your other marketing and communications. It should support the other marketing and communications initiatives you’ve got going on and there should be consistency.
Wrong goals or objectives. The focus on social typically defaults to vanity:”we want x number of fans/views/followers” But in order to actually impact your business, you need to link social media back to your business goals and objectives. Want to increase sales? Use social media to generate brand awareness and increase reach. Want to increase in-store visits? Share a trackable coupon that can be redeemed in-store.

Zero consistency. Amazing outcomes are the result of consistent effort. You get out of it what you put into it. If you don’t consistently show up online and consistently deliver the value your audience expects, you won’t succeed. Posting a few times won’t have any return.

Don’t understand audience or needs. Are you showing up where your people are? Are you sharing things that your people care about? First, if you’re not set up in social channels where your ideal audience hangs out, you’re going to have a difficult time standing out. And if you’re not sharing valuable stuff, they’ll just keep on scrolling. Spend some time researching your people; learn where they are and what they want from you.

Don’t really value social media, so it’s not prioritized. As business owners we’re wearing a lot of hats and juggling a lot of things. Just because we wish social media would work for us isn’t enough. If we value it, we will allocate the proper time and resources required to get results. Otherwise, why should we bother?

Overall, the consensus is that in order to get any type of meaningful business outcome, it takes planning, creativity and consistency.

If you need help with your business, whether you’ve launched already and want a second opinion or require a full social media and digital marketing launch, send me a message and I’d be happy to help!



Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.