Thomas Harpointner, CEO of AIS Media: Top Pitfalls For Businesses To Avoid When Using Social Media

Originally published in B2B Magazine December 1, 2010

By Christopher Hosford

Picture of social_media_don_draper_aismedia2

There are plenty of best practices when it comes to social media marketing, but it’s also worth exploring those things not to do while planning and implementing social marketing campaigns.

It’s something that executive recruiter Jerry Bernhart wished he had taken into account this year in staging two TweetChats—organized group discussions using the Twitter platform—to help uncover job opportunities for out-of-work marketers.

“One, I didn’t promote them heavily enough, and second, I held them on Sunday nights,” said Bernhart, whose Bernhart Associates Executive Search specializes in job placement for direct and digital marketers. “The concept is pretty cool, but at the end of the day we didn’t have a whole lot of participants.”

Bernhart believes if the events were held more regularly, and cross-promoted both on social networks as well as email, his TweetChats would have been more popular.

Not cross-promoting social campaigns is a common pitfall, according to Thomas Harpointner, CEO of Atlanta-based interactive marketing agency AIS Media. “You have to tie your social campaigns into other channels,” he said. “You can’t think that just because you build it, they will come.”

Harpointner referred to computer manufacturer Dell Inc. as a company that successfully “seeds” its Twitter campaigns by promoting them through other channels.

“It’s a way to build critical mass to get the word out,” Harpointner said. “Failure to integrate is where a lot of companies drop the ball.”

Harpointner has developed a list of “10 killer social media pitfalls” he said can derail social marketing campaigns. They include failure to plan properly, spreading yourself too thin by using every social channel available; thinking of social media as a quick fix for your marketing ills; using social media for blatant sales pitches; and treating social media as one-way communication instead of a dialogue that requires continual responses.

“Some companies have simply repurposed their regular marketing messages into social media posts, but you have to expect that people will respond to your social program,” Harpointner said. “People will expect you to reply quickly and, if you don’t, you’ll miss out. It’s like setting up an 800-number and having nobody there to answer.”

Both Harpointner and Kevin Kerner, managing director-U.S. at agency Mason Zimbler, Austin, Texas, stressed the need to have a good social strategy in place before launching a campaign.

“A major pitfall is having no clear vision of the end goal,” said Kerner. “People say, ‘Let’s do social because it’s trendy,’ but I see very little capability at big brands to actually develop a social strategy based on a specific objective.”

Other pitfalls Kerner noted include not knowing the needs and wants of your particular social audience; talking about yourself too much; not being aware of each channel’s unique voice and lexicon; and not leveraging the vast array of social media influencers who can help promote your brand.

“Most companies want people to follow, friend and comment, but they have no strategy to define those social participants who are most important and to get them to notice you,” Kerner said.

Kerner also advised taking advantage of newly developed capabilities such as Facebook groups and Promoted Tweets. But Bernhart said he believes it’s possible to be too cutting-edge.

“Six months ago when I started the TweetChats, I might have been a little ahead of the curve,” Bernhart said. “I had a lot of people write me and ask how to get on Twitter!”

Harpointner’s top ten social media pitfalls for businesses to avoid:

  1. Failure to properly plan.
  2. Avoid spreading yourself too thin.
  3. Don’t think of social media as a quick-fix.
  4. Don’t think that just because you’ve built it, they will come.
  5. Don’t just follow the followers.
  6. Don’t make blatant sales pitches.
  7. Don’t treat social media as a one way street.
  8. Don’t assign the responsibility of managing your social media strategy to an intern.
  9. Don’t treat social media as an island.
  10. Don’t delay the launch of your social media strategy.


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