Problem #1. Assuming “Virality” Will Do the Work For You
Social media enables people to spread your message faster, further, and easier than ever before.
That’s great for “word-of-mouth”, and exposing your brand to new people. But it’s not enough.
Because you’re not Facebook.
For a company or website to grow organically through the elusive “viral growth”, you need a viral coefficient of greater than one. That means each new customer you get has to be generated by one of your existing customers.
In theory this is the perfect marketing plan. But in reality, it’s almost impossible.
Only a few companies have been successful at it, and most are software or technology companies like Facbeook, Dropbox, and YouTube. Chances are, your business doesn’t have strong enough network effects, and isn’t revolutionary enough to achieve sustainble, profitable growth through pure viral marketing.
Instead, here’s what you do…
Corrective Strategy: Proactive Distribution
If you can’t sit around and wait for others to do the sharing for you, then you need to go out and make it happen.
So that means you need to acquire new customers, fans and followers by intentionally driving distribution to reach new people.
One of the best techniques to do that is online business development, where you identify communities of your target audience and create partnerships with whoever influences each group. You have to invest significant time and money to make things happen. Then you track or measure any social media sales to identify which channels provide the best ROI.
But it’s not that easy…
Because what you’re promoting has as bigger influence on your success than how you’re promoting it.
Problem #2. Assuming There’s One Path to Success
Your social media success depends on more than “engaging with your customers” and “joining the conversation”.
If that were true, then social media experts would talk about revenue — not Klout.
Because at some point, you’ll need these people to take action. You need them to buy, opt-in, or donate to your organization. And that doesn’t happen after a really good chat.
It’s true you can’t always control the outcome, but you can control your decisions and contribution. So instead of waiting, hoping, and wishing, you need to understand why something does, or doesn’t work.
Corrective Strategy: Engineer Your Own Success
There are specific, timeless principles which deliver marketing success. If you can tap into these techniques, then you’ll consistently grow.
Your viral marketing campaign won’t take off — no matter how much proactive distribution you use — if it doesn’t embody some core principles.
Research should uncover clues, copywriting communicates those values, and data should be used to inform your decisions.
But there’s no guide, and no map. There’s no magic bullet that works everytime, for every person, in every industry.
It’s doesn’t matter how many times you update your Facebook page each day, or how many hashtags you use in each tweet.
Problem #3. Assuming that Being Efficient Means You’re Being Effective
It might seem like you need to be on social media 24/7 to keep up.
Every day there are new tools, features, and updates that could affect what you’re working on.
But the truth is that real success in social media has nothing to do with the number of hours you work. You can spend the infamous 10,000 hours on Twitter talking to people, and you’ll still be bad at marketing.
So they key isn’t how long you’re engaging on Twitter, or which natural traits you’re born with.
But how you’re spending those hours instead…
Corrective Strategy: Deliberate Practice
The best investment you can always make is in your own skills and expertise.
Because mastering new techniques and improving your technical expertise will help you consistently grow — no matter the circumstances you might be in.
But reading a few “Top 10″ posts on Mashable won’t help you.
Introduced by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, a professor of Psychology at Florida State University, deliberate practice has been shown to be the Achilles’ Heel for top, world-class performers in almost every field. And there are some key characteristics that separate it from how typical white-collar professionals work:
It’s designed specifically by a coach or mentor to improve performance
It’s structured and can be repeated a lot
There is constant feedback on results
It’s highly demanding and not very enjoyable
For example, you can use deliberate practice to research and learn how to find exactly what your customers want, and what makes them take action. Then you can use it to discover new techniques to promote it and get more awareness on a consistent basis. Finally, you can use it to improve your performance, and increase the results you get each time you run a social media campaign.
So invest the time, energy and effort it takes to get really good first. Learn the concepts, put them into practice, get feedback from an expert, and repeat, repeat, repeat.