Have brands lost their social media mojo?

When is the last time a brand you chose to “like” on Facebook knocked your socks off? I mean really motivated you to talk back, share, or converse in the way we are supposed to be inclined to on social media? How about on Twitter? Many of us follow brands on Twitter or are fans on Facebook. We talk about these brands. We tag them when we are in their stores, using their products, or talking about where we would like our next birthday gift to come from. Maybe we are even complaining about them. Raise your hand if a brand engaged with you via any social media in the last week. Last month? Ever?

What’s that sound? Is it the sound of crickets? Just a few hands raised in the crowd? A lively and thought-provoking discussion erupted on @Olivier Blanchard Facebook page when he asked the following:

So how is it this post garnered 138+ comments over four hours yet many brands with corporate Facebook or Twitter accounts managed by a horde of community managers (job boards are LOADED with this job title these days. Read the job descriptions of these ‘ninjas’ and you’ll see how easy it is to lose faith in what some corporate suits think social media is supposed to be) have extremely low (or nil) engagement?

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Have brands lost their mojo? Have ‘fans’ become jaded and realized they were enticed to “like” a brand page to win a prize only to discover once thecontest or promotion ended there was nothing else for them to do?

We all know social media is supposed to be about engagement and sharing in the hopes of increasing customer loyalty and ultimately sales. Judging from recent research “16.6% of all online minutes now spent on social networks.” This means a great deal of opportunity exists for brands to engage with their fans, generate interest, and motivate fans to like, share, or comment. Yet they are not doing this. Why? What gaps exists keeping brands from successfully engaging with their captive audience? Remember the fans are already there. They clicked on the “like” button. But no one from the brand side cares enough to offer anything remotely stimulating for them to do or talk about. What is going on, people?

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Well, there is a lot going on actually. Some of it is fixable and some of it requires an overhaul of what brands have been sold about what social media is supposed to be. Here are the top three challenges I see facing brands in social media today:

  1. Many social networks do NOT make it easy to tag, share or leave a footprint on their Facebook pages if fans are using a smartphone or tablet. Considering rising rates of uptake and usage of these devices the fact fans still cannot seamlessly share a post on FB or tag someone or some brand in a status update evidences a major gap in engagement opportunity. Considering mobile usage of Facebook continues to increase, how else to explain Facebook is actually shrinking?
  2. Brands have in-house community managers who run on the flawed belief content is king. I charge instead that context is king. Strike a chord with your audience. We are all looking for common experiences and emotions we all have felt. This is what drives engagement. Yes, contests and gamification are great motivators but it is this desire to elicit an emotional response that will resonate with your audience. If you’re a laundry detergent, it may be as simple as asking “Where *does* that other sock go during the wash cycle?!” It’s not rocket science, it’s relationship building.
  3. Brands have also outsourced their social media to agencies or firms claiming they are “experts”. This is likely the biggest mistake of all. I’ve spoken about this before and how brands need to hold their customer relationships dear. No one will ever take care of your brand and your customers better than the brand ambassadors you already have working for you. Like I said in this blog post, hire for passion and train for skills. Take back your social media, get into the trenches about what is motivating your customers these days, what is driving them nuts, what problems do they have your brand can solve, and start TALKING WITH THEM. This is 99% of the equation.

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Which brands have really lost their mojo in social media in your opinion? Which brands are rocking it out? What do you see as the primary difference between the two? What can community managers do in your opinion to increase engagement and boost brand loyalty as well as sales—because make no mistake, this is what it’s all about but many brands seem to have forgotten this.

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