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Social Media Marketing Fatal Attraction: When Content Earns Your Brand the Wrong Type of Attention

2013 January 24
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Fatal AttractionYou’re probably familiar with at least a few social media horror stories; those epic hate-bombing situations, where companies commit social suicide in one way or another and pay for it very publicly. One such company was Boners BBQ, who posted on their Facebook page a picture of a customer who had written an unfavorable Yelp review… and captioned it with a rant which included calling her horrible names and accusing her of not tipping the staff (see the full story by Scott Stratten at Unmarketing).

The fatal attraction I speak of is more insidious, less intentional, yet can chip away at your time and resources, effectively undermining your social efforts and hurting your ROI. Is your social content attracting the wrong type of attention?

TopRank CEO Lee Odden has spoken extensively – for years – on the importance of targeted content and truly understanding your audience. He wrote recently, “From an overall marketing and customer engagement perspective, all content is not created equal. Any kind of content isn’t appropriate in any kind of situation despite what recent content advocates would have you believe.”

True that. You can miss the mark on targeting by varying degrees and with a range of consequences. Here are just a few; these might also be clues that the audience you’re attracting to your social profiles is not the one you were after:

You’re Wasting More Time Moderating

Comments are coming in fast and furious, but they have nothing to do with your company or industry. Here’s one reason this might happen:

Dental clinic posts Facebook Ad for hockey fans.

No, this ad isn’t for a hockey club of some kind. It’s for a dental clinic. Why would you try to attract hockey fans to your dental clinic Facebook page? Sure, you’ll get a few extra Likes, but the chances that your page visitors will become loyal customers and stick around once they realize you aren’t talking about hockey in your page content are slim. As a result, this company had some spam cleanup to do. Which brings us to the next consequence of fatal attraction:

You’re Wasting Social Ad Spend

Yes, it cost the dental company mentioned above money to attract the wrong people to their page. Whether they used CPC or CPM Facebook Ads, they paid for it and the results just weren’t there. Spend your social ad budget wisely by targeting people who may actually connect and become loyal fans, advocates and customers.

You’re Misleading Yourself With the Wrong Metrics

If your goal is to drive sales and increase revenue, Likes or Retweets are a means to an end, but not the finish line. Social metrics can act as great key performance indicators, but they do not indicate whether or not you’ve achieved your business goals. Attracting the wrong crowd can result in a high level of activity – especially if your content is engaging or goes viral – but it means nothing if you aren’t seeing an increase in revenue you can attribute to your social content.

You’re Making It More Difficult to Measure Your Own Success

How much time do you have to spend analyzing the performance of your social content in order to determine whether you’re reaching your goals? Creating content that might be popular with a large number of fans seems like a smart strategy, until you realize it’s not having the effect you want on your actual business. Are you in this to entertain, or to make money? Putting out a greater volume of targeted, engaging content is smart; putting out a greater volume of popular content that doesn’t lead to sales just makes it more difficult for you to tell which pieces actually paid off.

So how can you avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention with your social content?

  1. Never again create a piece of content without an end game in mind.
  2. Think about the person you want to reach in your planning phase – where are they online, what type of content they prefer, what questions and needs they have and how your content can address their preferences in a way that inspires your audience to take action? TopRank’s Brian Larson has some great tips on becoming more customer-centric even if you aren’t 100% comfortable with personas and optimization quite yet.
  3. Stop trying to be popular and focus on being useful instead; take a page from Jay Baer’s book and focus on your “Youtility.”
  4. Optimize your content for consumption. Make it easily searchable, discoverable, and shareable.
  5. Understand how you will measure success before you get started. Ashley Zeckman explains this based on a recent presentation by TopRank CEO Lee Odden: “If the key performance indicators or KPI’s have been defined, the next step is measuring the progress being made to achieve those goals… It makes more sense to produce a smaller quantity of content that has a higher level of engagement than it does to produce a large quantity of content that elicits little to no engagement. Knowing the level of engagement customers expect can determine what they are going to deem quality. Once you know that you can then optimize for it.”

Avoid the temptation to put popularity over business sense or become dazzled by the wrong metrics. Most importantly, never boil your own bunny by going out of your way, or even spending money, to attract the wrong attention.

How do you ensure your content meets the needs of your target audience? Share your tips in the comments!

Image via Shutterstock.

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