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The costs of failing in social media

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Social Media

This guest post was contributed by Christian Georgeou of Search Engine Watch, producers of the Search Engine Strategies San Jose Conference & Expo.

In  “Most Corporate Social Media Efforts Will Fail” Liana Evans made note of important finds from a recent Gartner study. The lure of social media is quickly catching the attention of corporate America — nearly 60% of all Fortune 1000 companies will be involved in some online community by 2010.

The benefits offered with the establishment of a community are high, says Adam Sarner, principal research analyst at Gartner. But Sarner also stresses, “Companies will be challenged with what applications to use, who ultimately ‘owns’ an application or interaction and the management of socialization itself, from measuring success to mitigating negative interactions to sourcing and cultural restraints”.

Social media acts as a superior conduit through which companies and brands can engage consumers in a conversation, helping to build long-term relationships that can foster customer loyalty and new product development.

However, the cost of failure to adequately invest in this relationship once started can be more damaging than not engaging the consumer in the first place. For social media outlets that fail, either ending up as a static site with no regular updates or disappearing all together, the message is sent that the opinion of consumers is not a priority and is unimportant.

In fact, the Gartner study found that 50% of all companies that establish an online community will fail in their efforts “eroding customer and company values”.

Evans notes that, “success in social media requires some advance planning … as well as some fundamental shifts in marketer’ attitudes toward online marketing.” A key failure many businesses are making is not to set an overall strategy for their social media activities prior to launching them.

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