Input requested: Web 2.0 Expo session

I'm looking forward to the Web 2.0 Expo coming up soon in San Francisco.  I'll be sharing a session with two people you might know:  Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang.

Our session is Why Social Media Marketing Fails – and How To Fix It.  A description, for starters:

Social media usage by individuals has gone mainstream. Brands are rushing to keep up with consumer behavior and consequently hundreds of companies around the world have launched social media marketing initiatives.

However, although major brands aren’t stumbling today as they were in 2006, current programs show that most marketers continue to operate businesses as usual. Most social media marketing executions are copy/paste into new channels – and customers aren’t impressed.

In order to make social media marketing matter, brands must answer key questions like: – How can companies measure activity?  What about scalability? Why does our organizational structure prevent participation?

This session will propose answers to those questions and attempt to help marketers think through the issues that will make social media marketing matter.

Here's where I'd appreciate your input.  In the current economic environment, if you're going to make the effort to attend the Expo and our session, I want to make it as relevant as possible.  So I'd like to get your take as we plan the session.

After reading the title and description:
  • What would you expect to hear covered in the session?
  • What questions come to mind that you would want answered?  
  • How can we make it a session that you walk away from satisfied?

Join the Conversation

No comments

  1. Hi Peter,

    I would want to hear about some case studies where social media marketing failed. More than mere mentions of these case studies, I would want to understand what went wrong with these marketing initiatives, What could have been done to avoid the mistakes made by these campaigns and most importantly, how would you do them again?


    P.S.: Hoping that you would upload the presentations somewhere.

  2. Great idea Peter.

    I think it’s inevitable that many companies will begin social media initiatives with old views of marketing and customer interaction and failing at it. What I think would be particularly interesting is to hear stories of companies that failed, failed again maybe and then figured it out – and are now either successful or clearly on their way.

    Understanding how to avoid the large mistakes especially those resulting from approaching social media as tactic rather than strategically would be interesting. How were perceptions changed to allow organizations to shift from old paradigms to those that work best with the social web would also be interesting.

    Another area of interest would be the difference in how the SEO industry approaches social media marketing vs how public relations, ad agencies and interactives do. There’s a lot of SEO advice on how to use social news and bookmarking sites (Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon) to drive traffic but doesn’t focus much on community or long term benefits. Others approach social media purely for building community and ignore the link building opportunities. What’s broken about each approach is the missed opportunity.

  3. I’d love to hear a case about a company’s using of social media — and how they got the proper buy in from leadership. Specifically, how did they use measurement with leaders who don’t know the tools and how to quantify them. how do you trade “unique monthlies” with “tweets” or “followers.” It’s tough to defend these great programs if our leaders don’t necessarily know how to quantify them. The tool box is changing — and we need to bring others along with it. This may be the one of the single, biggest challenges facing this industry today.

  4. You really are taking this social media thing seriously — asking readers what they want to hear about at Web 2.0 Expo. It’s refeshing. I just hope that once you’ve asked and listened, you craft the Peter Kim take. The space lacks leadership and you can, and should, step up. You, my friend, are a poster (not a paster). Have fun!

  5. Hi Peter:

    IMHO here is the big thing missing from your brief. (You got that cut and paste doesn’t work and that org structure to support SM is cross functional)

    Successful SM initiatives are developed by putting the issues, passions and motivations of the community AHEAD of your marketing objectives. Figure out how to connect to the passion in a useful and relevant way and you have a decent chance of success.

    Putting your (corporate) motivations ahead of community motivations and you will fail.

    Tom O’Brien
    MotiveQuest LLC

  6. Hi Peter, I think people who come to the session might be interested in knowing what really separates the successful social media marketing campaigns from the ones that fail. Assuming everything is equal, where did it go wrong, was it failure in desicison making, implementation, the employees, the culture, the brand, the economy, the consumers, poor assumptions, flawed plan, going too quickly, failure to measure, fear, loss of brand control, not listening..???

    Once indentified, I’d like to know who decided to try again and who decided that social media marketing was “just not for them”. And for those who decided to try again, what did they learn and what did they change and what were the results.

  7. I would like to see a case study that demonstrates a methodology to measure ROI for social media activities. Specifically, honing in on how a large enterprise can track the investment in time and resources on social media activities back to tangible benefits to the company such as win revenue, added sales pipeline, improved customer satisfaction or improved messaging/value prop more in line with targeted customer segments.

  8. I’d like to see an explicit reason for why scalability is an issue.

    Is the reuse you refer to with your point about copy/paste across channels an attempt to make content scalable?

    And, last but not least, I’d really want to hear an answer to the question: What is social about social media? I don’t see anyone trying to answer this question in a systematic way other than Nathan Chan over at Johnny Holland Magazine. I doubt an answer to your question about organizational structure is possible without laying out a framework on what is social about social media.

  9. Hi Peter
    SM is still evolving. I would have thought therefore that the failures probably outweigh the successes, and the successes for the most part might be happening at smaller companies that aren’t in the mainstream (who’s interested in those, right?!), and they’re probably doing really simple things in an open and honest way, underpinned by a sense of mutual trust. At the end of the day it’s often about having a conversation, and conversations by their very nature stop and start, we hesitate, we ramble, we get it wrong, we get it right, we start again… try putting a theory or best practice round that. You only know if you understand your customer, your proposition to them, and where twitter or SM might fall into that mix (if at all).

    If you concentrate on failures it’s going to be fairly boring I would have thought (and when it comes down to it we’re only interested in the big failures anyway), and why do something from a negative starting point, why not embrace what’s good about it? Why not see through twitter or SM to the underlying concepts? In my job, twitter is about the emergence of real time help for customers. What’s the future of that, what does it look like – no idea. BUt I embrace the challenge of finding out, together with our customers.

    I won’t be able to attend unfortunately what looks like a great event with fantastic speakers, as I work in London, but for me there are two things:

    -what stops companies taking part, experimenting, and letting customers tell them how to use twitter? Is listening so difficult?
    -why this big thing about ROI, where does that come from? I know Groundswell tried to address this issue of ROI and did a very good job of it. But you try putting an ROI around a customer tweeting you that the info on your web site is incorrect, or a ‘thank you’ when a customer tweets about the good service they have had. The ROI should reflect the KPI anyway, so should be a part of a bigger strategy.

    I’m the Online Help Manager at Carphone Warehouse and trying to understand how to use twitter/social media to better engage with our customers in my own small way. @guy1067

    All the best with the event.

  10. By and large, every successful community initially develops a strategy and/or plan. There are obviously many steps in this strategy/plan – Idea-Design-Implementation-Beta-Launch-Management…..obviously those are not the exact steps by any means, just a simple representation. Every step through this process is as important as the next. I would think that it would be beneficial for the audience to understand the important steps or milestones throughout the process, and see where they are likely to fail. It is during the initial Idea stage, maybe the idea is not appropriate, are they targeting the right people, are the tools that are chosen appropriate?????

  11. YOu’re right, social media campaigns fail because they’re cut and paste. But that has nothing to do with metrics or scalability.

    My biggest frustration with most “social media marketing campaigns” is that they don’t think about who they’re trying to reach. Maybe some companies don’t really need to be on facebook, maybe their audience isn’t there, and they should be doing something else.

    Social media strategery needs to go beyond the point of “make an application, get on facebook, do some seo, and you’ll be ok.” WHERE are your users, how are you going to do something compelling to them.

    Scalability?? That’s jumping to step 20 without even finishing step 1.

    Metrics? How about something as simple as “are you getting and retaining users.”

    Our industry is not in the baby steps anymore – at least not from our perspective. We’re doing companies an injustice if we make it sound like scalability is their largest problem. It’s not. Their first, and biggest issue is getting people in the first place. If they can nail the concept (like burger king did with that facebook app, for example), then at least they have a problem to deal with.

  12. Peter,

    How about something on how much time (employee time) brands have to commit to the SM work? It’s one of the most common excuses to stop or not start SM campaigns. Not sure why listening and communicating with customers and prospects seems like a waste of time and money for brands, but it would be great if you could answer a question around time commitment or share of workday.

  13. I recently had an argument with a friend who works in “traditional” media. He suggested that most of Twitter posts simply repeat stories from traditional media, hence, it is redundant, as a medium. I would like to hear people’s opinion on Twitter as an alternative to mainstream “traditional” media. Please take my poll

    So that you know: I myself believe that Twitter is a new medium because it comprises both mainstream and personal stories…

  14. Great topic, Peter, and I hope to make it to SF for the session. As for the scope, I agree with Tom O’Brien in that putting the need to put corporate brand in front of the relationship-centric and conversational nature that underpins social media is a non starter. What would be interesting is the panel’s take on best practices for how corporations should engage segmented audiences (i.e. students, CIOs, ITDM, etc.) with social media tools. Moreover, highlighting effective scenarios for engagement across social media types (communities, blogs/micro-blogs) would be very helpful. Thanks for continually pushing the envenlope!

  15. Here’s what I would want to know.

    If I gave you $50,000 and said, “here is my social web marketing budget for the next 6 months. Go and grow my product.” What would you do? What results should I expect?

  16. Why Social Media Marketing Fails:
    *10 common mistakes social media marketers make
    *The social media marketing process outlined and the likely failure points identified
    *Criteria to determine whether a social media marketing program will work for a client
    *Common budgetary, logistics and brand compliance mistakes

    How to Fix it:
    *How to effectively troubleshoot a social media marketing idea
    *10 good questions to ask before starting the campaign
    *2 case studies that demonstrate how a social media marketing campaign was prevented from failure
    *A diagram that shows the role of the client, the agency and the audience within social media marketing and identifies best practices for each
    *A list of things that are not easy fixes that we need to watch out for

    >And as an added bonus: How to talk about social media marketing results with clients

    -Zachary Braiker

  17. Why social media fails:
    – development timetable too often mirrors mass media; fast 30’s. The SocMedia track is different. The timetable and ideation is different. Dump the gant charts.
    – integration is one step away from boring. SocMedia at the center, not an offshoot of one-way trad media. SocMedia is not a supplement.
    – SocMedia needs the four pillars to be effective: content, search, community and personalization. One missing pillar and the whole thing fails.

    How to Fix it:
    – focus on that old idea; NEW. People only turn into engagers and then into consumers if there’s something new, something better in it for them and their families.
    – solve a problem for your consumers…again, something new, something better.
    – keep on experimenting with ConGen content. Yes, there have been failures. Try try again.
    – appeal to heavy users/fans. Make the people who love you already love you more. The likers will follow.


  18. I think a discussion of how to engage users would be useful. one of the new and important aspects of social media marketing is that the marketer needs to bring value to the conversation. So step 1 is how to find a way to do that.

    As an example, i run a vacation rental management company in Santa Barbara ( The first thing i need to do is find a way to make people WANT to listen to what i say, to develop a level of expertise and trust that is real between me and potential customers. Next can come the conversion from friend to customer. Thats a requirement and step that is often missing from traditional marketing where people are blasted with ads that they can’t escape, and the brands hope for capitulation rather than relationship creation. Thoughts around how to go about doing that would be great.


  19. Hi Peter,

    Wonderful opportunity, thanks! I’d be interested in knowing what organization change came about that allowed for SM strategies to be carried out. Outsourcing to proven companies? Restructuring and redefining of more traditional communication/marketing shops? Coming from the Government both of these would need to apply. Would like HR/capacity examples from success stories.


  20. I would want to hear some really out-of-the-box ideas for how to use social media effectively. there are literally thousands of Web 2.0 tools out there that most people can’t concieve of – let alone have ever heard of or know how to use. Pick some of the “coolest” and give some ideas for how they could be used – and show everything as visually as you possibly can.

  21. How can brands (or the people that work for or represent those brands) participate in social media discussions as regular human beings, without just peddling marketing messages all the way through through?

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  22. * What would you expect to hear covered in the session?
    Detailed case studies of businesses who failed using Social Media Marketing (SMM) and businesses that succeeded. Personally I’d want to hear less about large companies and see some focus on mid-tier and even SMBs…also I’m still hungry to hear more folks talk about how well B2B is using SMM (but you’ve heard me say that before).

    * What questions come to mind that you would want answered?

    • What are the questions people face from management and the board when they suggest SMM?
    • What do you do when a segment of your SMM does fail (and it will)?
    • How do you measure success? KPI?
    • What tools do people use to actually measure ROI?

    * How can we make it a session that you walk away from satisfied?
    I find I’m most satisfied after sessions that let me get my hands dirty, which was one of my suggestions for SXSWi 2010. How can you get the audience to actually participate to put together something they can take back to their employer and get this stuff implemented? Is there a way to get everyone to basically create the beginning of a SMM plan while listening to the panel? My suggestion would be to have a place folks can upload the notes they take during the session, which would also aggregate all the Tweets during the panel and final analysis from the three of you. That would be a powerful collection of information that folks could immediately use to move forward.

    Wish I could actually be there for the session 🙁

  23. With so many people identifying themselves as social media gurus, evangelists, experts, etc., I think the most important information you could offer are guidelines on how businesses can distinguish people with valuable experience and insight from people selling information you get from simply being on Twitter or Facebook as “expert knowledge”.

    I was told a story about a social media consultant charging $50K for setting up a Twitter account and Facebook page for a company. Whether it’s true or not, I’m sure there are people taking advantage of businesses desperate for help entering the social media world in these difficult times. The more pseudo-experts there are out there, charging ridiculous fees that can’t deliver on overly high expectations, the more scorn will be heaped on social media field.

    It’s a field where there are a lot of people, a lot of loud voices, claiming expertise which is foolish when it is still an area being tested and accurate metrics of depth and extent of user/consumer engagement have yet to be fully developed.

    More concisely, how can you tell the white hats from the black hats?

  24. I agree about scalability issues. Its very subject to the intent of the company (having 1 person in communications vs. all 5 in communications using social media vs. all 200 people in the company using social media–or rather deeply engaged in via multiple platforms).

    This is a side issue, but the coverage of the video and the mobile space has been minimal to my knowledge. The video space especially seems pretty under theorized.

    My ideas may not be as applicable, because I’m not an “industry insider.”

  25. Two more suggestions. I think the issue of managing expectations over time is critical to client relations and the overall reputation of the industry. (ie if CEOs don’t see return in 3 to 6 months they may be incredibly gun shy in spending $25k to $50k on the next campaign). Managing expectations and the ROI discussion have a unique dovetail together–they seem to go hand in hand.

    Integration, integration, integration. Social media in the holistic internet communications picture. Lee hinted at this above.

    Opps. After re-reading the initial post, perhaps these contributions aren’t quite as important as I thought–decide for yourself I guess.

  26. I would love to hear about how companies are creating process infrastructure so that multiple functional groups can work in social media projects to reach the same customer on twitter, facebook or linkedin. We are using a social media metrics tool and building workflows around that to make it happen.

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