smm globeOne of the great myths of social media is that it’s a panacea.  People not interested in what you’ve got to say?  Say it on Twitter.  People aren’t buying?  Get new clients by Facebook.  Nobody know about your brand?  Get some pictures out there on Pinterest.  The truth is that a social media presence can help address some issues with your business and with your website, and it can help you achieve your business goals in many cases.  But there are some situations that social media just can’t fix.

1. You don’t know how to sell.

One of the first reasons people get on social media is to connect with their customers.  They aren’t selling enough, they need more customers, or they need to reach new audiences.  But when your business is not making sales, one of the first questions that you need to address is;

Do you really know how to sell?

If a customer walked in off the street and sat down with you (or sent you an email, or picked up the telephone) and they were in the market for the kind of product or service that you provide, could you convert him or her?  Could you communicate your value proposition clearly?  Could you read their needs enough to customise your pitch?  Could you instill confidence that you are competent and able to deliver the goods?  If you are struggling with sales in other mediums, the reality is that you may also struggle to sell via social media.  Start by improving your basic selling skills before exploring new channels.

2. You don’t know your customer, and what they really need.

The core of any business succeeding is knowing what you sell, and to whom.  And beyond that, you need to know why they are buying that product, from you, today.  Who are they?  What problems do they face?  What solution are you offering to the problem?  If you’re not able to describe a customer avatar, giving a good sense of who buys your products, what their life is like, and what propels them to buy, start there. It’s going to be difficult to find those people via social media and to provide content that truly resonates with them until you resolve this problem.

3. What you’re selling (or saying) isn’t clear.

A key business challenge that can manifest through a social media presence and be really difficult to solve is when you actually don’t know what you’re selling.  Or maybe you know, but you haven’t refined your message enough for public consumption.  Social media is simply a channel that will amplify your message to a broader new audience.  If you haven’t developed a clear pitch, a good understanding of what qualifies as on/off message for you, etc. you can run into challenges with social media as you are now encountering a broader audience that’s unclear on what you’re offering.  If you’re struggling in this area, consider working with a communications coach or copywriter who can help you to find the right language to describe your efforts before engaging on social media.

4. Lack of conversions speak to larger business issues (e.g. customer service, follow through, a dying market).

If you’re experiencing broader issues in your business – for example, customer complaints due to customer service or defective projects, a lack of follow through with staff, or general market conditions that are on the decline, adding social media into the mix may or may not address these issues.  If the objective of the social media is to boldly meet customer complaints head on and offer solutions, or to expand beyond a regional market that might be slowing down to access new markets, this could be a good strategy.  But when you’re business is suffering due to internal or external factors that might need to be addressed first, social media isn’t a panacea to address this problem.

5. You’re not prepared or able to manage issues like workflow and potentially negative encounters.

Everyone thinks Yelp is a terrific service, until they get a bad review.  The upside of social media is that everyone has a microphone; the downside of social media is that everyone has a microphone.  And the truth is that keeping up with the flow of communications this opens for your business can take a significant amount of work.  Some of this will be administrative, and some will be strategic.  This is especially true when you’re faced with challenging situations, such as unhappy customers sounding off in various forums.  Therefore, before you engage in social media, make sure that you have the adequate staff to not only keep your accounts active, but moderate and engage with the communities you are creating.


This was a guest blog post by Joe Linford who contributes on behalf of social shopping sites Broadband Genie and Crowdstorm, specialising in everything from hoovers to the latest iPhone 4S deals. Click here for the best offers