Lee Odden

How to Overcome 4 Social Media Headaches

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

social media marketingSocial Media Marketing has taken a firmer position within the marketing mix of most companies in one way or another. For some, social web participation is a natural fit. For many others, being more social isn’t in the management DNA.  Regardless, marketers are held accountable for improving the bottom line and with that comes a number of common “headaches”.

Yesterday I did a webinar with a client of ours, NewsUSA, on social media headaches. As part of the prep for that, I wrote out answers to some of the questions and thought it would be of interest to our Online Marketing Blog readers as well.

Getting Approval From the C-Suite

What is the most important piece of information you need to get approval for a social media campaign?

C-SuiteThe simple answer is to make sure you tie what you’re doing to revenue growth, customer acquisition and retention, increased profitability or some other top level business goal.

Many companies approach social media marketing as a series of disconnected campaigns without coordination, overall strategy or specific outcomes defined. It’s no wonder that many of those efforts fail to deliver expected results.

Getting management approval starts with answering some key questions. First, the reason for a campaign must be clear: What business goals are you trying to achieve? Where does the individual campaign effort fall within the overall social media strategy? How could it directly or indirectly affect business goals? What resources or investment need to be made and what can you reasonably project as an outcome? (short and long term)

Start with a hypothesis and develop a plan for reaching or influencing business outcomes. Show KPI (key performance indicator) measurements and to what degree they can correlate with goals such as increased leads, increased quality of leads, reduced sales cycle, increased blogger and media mentions, increased candidate inquiries, lower customer support costs, etc.  When it’s new territory, business executives may be more likely to approve if you can show a path from where you are now towards influencing business outcomes.

Social Content Creation

What’s your favorite time saving shortcut with content?

social media contentPlanning. Creating an editorial plan can save a lot of time with content creation. Obviously, a business needs writing resources internally or outsourced to help author and repurpose content, but creating a topical plan for writing articles, blog posts and media in the way an Editorial Calendar is created for a publication, can save a lot of time.  Specific types of content with due dates keeps content creation and promotion on track and efficient.

Another time saver is to use content-type templates. As a content marketer for all of our 10 years in business, I’ve found certain formats of articles or blog posts and even social content to work better than others. Develop content formats or templates as well as libraries of keywords, hooks & clever angles that support key messages and desired reader behaviors can save quite a bit of time when you’re after a quantity of quality content.

The thing about saving time is that quality must be maintained. Getting 3 articles out in the time it takes to do one doesn’t mean anything if the 3 are crap.

A third time saver is to leverage other people in your organization, especially subject matter experts, sales people and customer service staff. People who interact with customers and prospects answering questions are a goldmine for quality content ideas.

Finding/Reaching Your Audience

What networks reach the audiences best?

Social Media PersonasThe key is to find “your” audience. To do that it’s important to construct ideal customer profiles or personas. Collect information that exemplifies your best customers and discover their information discovery, consumption and sharing preferences. What topics are they interested in? What are their pain points? What do they search for? What do they talk about on social media sites? Where do they hang out and who / what influences them?

That buyer persona can then guide your content plan as well as your social media research and listening efforts to uncover which social media and network sites to engage with.

Part of this process can involve taking a prospect newsletter email list and leveraging it with a service like Rapleaf or Flowtown. Importing email addresses into those services will reveal wherever those individuals have registered accounts on social media sites.

Along with social monitoring software that shows where key topics are being discussed on the social web, a marketer can use a social profile appending servives to see which social networks and media sites their prospects are connected to.

Imagine finding out that your list shows 85% visibility on Facebook and 35% on LinkedIn when you thought the reverse?

Ultimately, the best networks are those that provide a platform for customers to find what they looking for and for brands to be useful to and engage those customers.

Presenting Results to the C-Suite

How do you keep reporting simple and easy to understand?

Social Media DashboardDashboards are popular and many social media management services have popped up to help manage social media assets, promotions and success metrics. Those that integrate with web analytics are especially helpful.

Unfortunately, executive level social media reporting to the C-Suite is still a bit of a challenge because they most often care about the direct impact on business growth – something that is difficult to measure with social media efforts due to the indirect influence and delayed effect. However, correlation measures can be offered, such as an overlay of the progression of social media KPIs on top of business goals.

For example:

  • An increase in the community connections and measures of engagement actions that correspond to a decrease in customer service call center costs.
  • The increase trend in social content creation and citations from the community overlaid with an increase in non-campaign new prospect inquiries.

The key with C-Suite reporting is to properly manage expectations, keep it simple and do your best to focus on both the direct and indirect impact of social media efforts on overall business goals.

What have some of your biggest headaches been with social media and management?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Great post. I love the clarity and ease of read. Your points about consistency across mediums is extremely important and yet often forgot. Thanks for the post.

  2. Avatar Black Seo Guy says

    Social media can be a headache if your not organized..you must get your ducks in a row to stay ahead..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. I think the key phrase in this post is this:
    “Many companies approach social media marketing as a series of disconnected campaigns without coordination, overall strategy or specific outcomes defined.”

    Despite the publicity, there isn’t a central model being used by most companies who do this now. I do think that most are honestly trying to get up to speed, but with that comes resources from the C-suite, and it’s got to be beneficial to the company’s bottom line. I think too many people thought this would be easy, but if you’re doing it right, it takes maintenance and dedication from everybody involved.

    • I agree David, most companies are trying to get up to speed. They’re viewing social as a tactic vs a way for the company to behave. The opportunity is for leadership to see the advantages to the business not just short term, but in the long run.

  4. Really good post. You must have been listening in on a client conversation about reporting KPIs on a social media engagement programme I had earlier today.

    We decided that three key metrics worth tracking in Facebook groups were:

    a) reach, measured by unique page visitors
    b) posts per admin post (as a metric of activity and engagement)
    c) size of active core (% who post more than the average number of posts)

    The idea of growing engaged users in this case (a Facebook campaign) is to amplify the impact of the campaign outside Facebook itself. It is very hard to measure that last mile of ROI though.

  5. Nice post on selling social media marketing to the big bosses

  6. I think the concept of “social media strategy” has not yet come of age. Once there are more widely recognizable/acceptable examples of how SM has impacted all levels of biz (mom-pop up to c-suite) the headaches of these businesses buying in to a SM strategy will be more welcome. The early adopters of committing to SM as a branding / marketing tool may just become the trailblazers and pioneers of tomorrow… the game is changing every day and the ones who hop on the bus will be that much further ahead of the curve.

    • It’s interesting that most companies think having a Facebook Fan page or Twitter account “counts” as a social media strategy. The reality I think, is that marketing strategies at large will incorporate integrated social components vs. needing a separate social strategy.

  7. I especially agree with the last point, not being able to see Return on Investment can be incredibly frustrating, but increasing fans, followers, and discussions are all examples on how social media can help.

    That being said, there are a few concrete number such as inbound links to prove social media’s worth. Either way I definitely feel the frustration but have to keep plugging away because it does work!

    • There are plenty of KPIs like links. The challenge is to tie that activity as a proxy measurement to the things that help reach business goals.

  8. I liked how you mentioned the difficulty presenting to the C-Suite – it can be hard to find solutions that present high level business data as well as social media and analytics data. It’s challenges like this we hope to solve with our SaaS analytics solution, Bime (http://bimeanalytics.com).

  9. I just posted a question on Quora about another challenge related to how where a brand participates may impact the brand image. I would love to hear some thoughts.


  10. Great post! I like point two..Finding and reaching out the audience is the foremost challenging task. As you said, finding out them in social media n/w sites such as facebook and twitter and discovering their interests would obviously help us plan on which site should we prefer to laser focus our goals..This is really a helpful tip for us.

  11. wow ! whats a great post , i like your all point thanks for sharing with us

  12. Lee, Great post. I really liked the discussion of trying to automate the content by using templates and by having an editorial plan. I also went back and bookmarked your prior post on social media management tools.

  13. Excellent review! Keeping the strategy relevant to C-Suite initiatives (and revisiting often) puts everyone at ease from your first sit-down to the follow-up.

  14. Great info! Thanks for sharing.