“I have a Facebook page and I know how to set up a Twitter account, I can totes do the social media for the company!”

I shudder when I think about how many companies have delegated their social media campaigns to un-trained Administrative Assistants or low-mid level HR employees.

Most often these individuals were hired to perform a different, traditional role within the company structure but ended up, likely due to some rudimentary knowledge of social media sites, as social media marketing gurus.

The great mis-understanding of the relatively new social media space has left many small to mid-sized companies scrambling to catch up to their competitors.

While more and more upper level executives begin to understand the reach that a social media campaign can give their business few are willing to take the time to research exactly how such a campaign should be run.

How many CEO’s out there have had this conversation?

CEO: “Hey, we really need to get going on this social media stuff!”
HR: “Ok, we’ll get Becky the receptionist to set up a Facebook account and maybe she knows how to do that Twitter stuff too. I’ll ask her.”
CEO: “Great! I expect to see results.”
HR: “What sort of results?”
CEO: “I don’t know but if I don’t see something in 3 months I’m pulling the plug!”
HR: “Ok, sounds fair. I’m on it!”

This is the sort of thing that happens time and time again. A lack of understanding at the upper levels coupled with the notion that social media is something the kids are doing has lead to some serious social media fails.

The best example of a failed SM campaign I can give you is BP. In an effort to “spin” (a traditional marketing term) the massive disaster in the Gulf BP tried to use social media to shore up their shortcomings. However, bad advice or lack of planning had BP trying to use traditional marketing techniques (buying ad space, pushing high-production quality videos) on the public.

Social media is about engagement but none of BP’s media was engage able. They wouldn’t allow comments or questions or any sort of back and forth. They tried to control the message within the social media realm which is simply impossible to do. (i.e. “related videos” that were posted to the right of theirs were all negative ones from others).

BP failed because they failed to work through a proper strategy and left the intensely important social media platform to someone who did not know what they were doing.

So, in the interest of brevity (too late :), I am going to put down the Cliff (Cole’s in Canada) Notes version of things to think about when considering adding a social media campaign to your company’s marketing strategy.


1. hire a professional Social Media Strategist to help define the goals of the campaign.
2. change your mindset about marketing. Social media marketing is not the same as traditional marketing and should not be treated as such.
3. create guidelines for engagement.
4. engage your entire organization in your campaign. All employees, from the top down, should be engaged in the campaign based on the guidelines you’ve created.
5. make sure you have someone who’s primary purpose is to oversee all aspects of the campaign.
6. use your professional strategist to help you set metrics to gage ROI.

Social media is not some fad diet that is sweeping the internet only to be replaced in a year or two by the next one. It’s here to stay. It’s a powerful tool, when used correctly. Assigning it to someone who is not trained or who is not consistently up-dating their knowledge is a grave mistake that could do more harm than good.

Written by jax