Miranda Miller

Social Media Marketing Fatal Attraction: When Content Earns Your Brand the Wrong Type of Attention

Miranda Miller     Content Marketing, Social Media

Fatal AttractionYou’re probably familiar with at least a few social media horror stories; those epic hate-bombing situations, where companies commit social suicide in one way or another and pay for it very publicly. One such company was Boners BBQ, who posted on their Facebook page a picture of a customer who had written an unfavorable Yelp review… and captioned it with a rant which included calling her horrible names and accusing her of not tipping the staff (see the full story by Scott Stratten at Unmarketing).

The fatal attraction I speak of is more insidious, less intentional, yet can chip away at your time and resources, effectively undermining your social efforts and hurting your ROI. Is your social content attracting the wrong type of attention?

TopRank CEO Lee Odden has spoken extensively – for years – on the importance of targeted content and truly understanding your audience. He wrote recently, “From an overall marketing and customer engagement perspective, all content is not created equal. Any kind of content isn’t appropriate in any kind of situation despite what recent content advocates would have you believe.”

True that. You can miss the mark on targeting by varying degrees and with a range of consequences. Here are just a few; these might also be clues that the audience you’re attracting to your social profiles is not the one you were after:

You’re Wasting More Time Moderating

Comments are coming in fast and furious, but they have nothing to do with your company or industry. Here’s one reason this might happen:

Dental clinic posts Facebook Ad for hockey fans.

No, this ad isn’t for a hockey club of some kind. It’s for a dental clinic. Why would you try to attract hockey fans to your dental clinic Facebook page? Sure, you’ll get a few extra Likes, but the chances that your page visitors will become loyal customers and stick around once they realize you aren’t talking about hockey in your page content are slim. As a result, this company had some spam cleanup to do. Which brings us to the next consequence of fatal attraction:

You’re Wasting Social Ad Spend

Yes, it cost the dental company mentioned above money to attract the wrong people to their page. Whether they used CPC or CPM Facebook Ads, they paid for it and the results just weren’t there. Spend your social ad budget wisely by targeting people who may actually connect and become loyal fans, advocates and customers.

You’re Misleading Yourself With the Wrong Metrics

If your goal is to drive sales and increase revenue, Likes or Retweets are a means to an end, but not the finish line. Social metrics can act as great key performance indicators, but they do not indicate whether or not you’ve achieved your business goals. Attracting the wrong crowd can result in a high level of activity – especially if your content is engaging or goes viral – but it means nothing if you aren’t seeing an increase in revenue you can attribute to your social content.

You’re Making It More Difficult to Measure Your Own Success

How much time do you have to spend analyzing the performance of your social content in order to determine whether you’re reaching your goals? Creating content that might be popular with a large number of fans seems like a smart strategy, until you realize it’s not having the effect you want on your actual business. Are you in this to entertain, or to make money? Putting out a greater volume of targeted, engaging content is smart; putting out a greater volume of popular content that doesn’t lead to sales just makes it more difficult for you to tell which pieces actually paid off.

So how can you avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention with your social content?

  1. Never again create a piece of content without an end game in mind.
  2. Think about the person you want to reach in your planning phase – where are they online, what type of content they prefer, what questions and needs they have and how your content can address their preferences in a way that inspires your audience to take action? TopRank’s Brian Larson has some great tips on becoming more customer-centric even if you aren’t 100% comfortable with personas and optimization quite yet.
  3. Stop trying to be popular and focus on being useful instead; take a page from Jay Baer’s book and focus on your “Youtility.”
  4. Optimize your content for consumption. Make it easily searchable, discoverable, and shareable.
  5. Understand how you will measure success before you get started. Ashley Zeckman explains this based on a recent presentation by TopRank CEO Lee Odden: “If the key performance indicators or KPI’s have been defined, the next step is measuring the progress being made to achieve those goals… It makes more sense to produce a smaller quantity of content that has a higher level of engagement than it does to produce a large quantity of content that elicits little to no engagement. Knowing the level of engagement customers expect can determine what they are going to deem quality. Once you know that you can then optimize for it.”

Avoid the temptation to put popularity over business sense or become dazzled by the wrong metrics. Most importantly, never boil your own bunny by going out of your way, or even spending money, to attract the wrong attention.

How do you ensure your content meets the needs of your target audience? Share your tips in the comments!

Image via Shutterstock.

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  1. Just because social media is used by the masses, it doesn’t mean that you should be targeting the masses. Marketing concepts remain the same, go after target audience members- those that are interested in your business when creating social content. Misleading content may get you some extra followers, but they won’t convert.

  2. To point #3 above, in the words of the philosopher, John Mellencamp, “Forget all about that macho **** and learn how to play guitar.”

  3. 1000 likes are not going to do any good if they haven’t performed your call-to-action. Your content and ads need to be relevent to both your business and your audience.

  4. Avatar Quiqslooks says

    One more wise thought for point#3: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Be yourself on social media platforms. And this point is so easy to forget when you care about likes and retweets .
    Great topic, thanks!

  5. bad boner just had to say it

    • Avatar MirandaM_EComm says

      Right from the time that story broke, I thought, “What an unfortunate business name!” But hey, they chose it lol.

  6. I had real fun reading it. But how would you deal with people who simply spam at your blog or website? You don’t want to be rude to them, right? Don’t you think there is some danger from unfair competition at these terms?

    • Avatar MirandaM_EComm says

      Hi Sasha,

      I think there are always going to be companies who focus on sabotaging the competition – we see this in SEO, as well. It can be difficult to deal with, for sure. Moderation is the key. If you know you’re being bombed with spam, just stay on top of it and don’t respond. That’s my opinion, having dealt with it in the past. Responding only leads to a flame war. If you’re questioned about it, refer to your social policy (make sure you have one!) and point out where the offending posts don’t meet your community guidelines. Then continue deleting. Is it going to be worth it for an unfair competitor to continue if it’s not getting the reaction or exposure they’re seeking? Not likely. Now, if it’s not a competitor and is actually a consumer doing this, take the same approach – community guidelines, acceptable content – and ask them to contact you privately to discuss. My two cents!

      • Hi Miranda,

        Thank you for these wise tips. Have you ever had the experience with consumers who are really angry and keep on damaging your company’s image online with no reaction to your e-mails? How do you deal with such consumers?

        • Avatar MirandaM_EComm says

          I actually have and it’s not a good situation :s In that case I responded on behalf of a client twice (from a previous agency) to ask them to contact us privately. When they didn’t respond, subsequent messages were deleted. In some cases, you would hope they would then contact you to ask why they were deleted and you could then have an open door to actually solving the problem, but we never heard from them again. I monitored the web and social networks for mentions but they seemed to have let it go.

          In another case I have seen but was not directly involved in, I know the company had to get a cease and desist from their legal team. Not ideal, but if a person refuses to work with you to resolve the problem and is bent on writing reviews, slamming your company in forums and generally trolling your web presence, you have no choice. It’s a different situation if you aren’t reaching out to them (and I’ve seen companies just ignore this behavior, as well) but when you’ve done what you can, it really is a last resort.

          Until it is resolved, it’s important to monitor everywhere you can and immediately respond where appropriate, ie.: many review sites allow the owner of a business to respond to a review. You can do so in a way that makes it clear to anyone who might read it that you’re willing to work with the person to solve the problem. Reiterate your policy and the fact that the customer experience is important to you and leave your contact information in the communication.

          I hope that helps somewhat… the circumstances of each case are different but those are some best practices I’ve found.

          • Thank you for the information shared! Do you think bad reviews can really harm the image of the company? Once I experienced a situation in my friend’s company when the “customers” were accusing the company of bad service quality and they actually revealed many weaknesses that were consequently delected from the website. Do you think it is also a great way to study to some extent?

          • Avatar MirandaM_EComm says

            Negative reviews have the potential to harm the company’s image, for sure. It sounds like your friend was very smart about handling them 🙂 Each one is an opportunity to publicly respond, but if you aren’t fixing the underlying problems in legitimate complaints, you’re going to keep getting bad reviews!

          • And what about positive reviews? At times when I read them online they look unnaturally positive even if they are true and relevant. What is your vision? Shouldn’t a company balance the good and the bad on its website?

          • Avatar MirandaM_EComm says

            Hi Sasha, I’m not exactly sure what you mean… I don’t think companies have an obligation to *not* publish positive info about themselves on their own website. I can’t think of an instance where it would be good to put a bad review on your own site to even things out with a positive one. That happens enough in social.

  7. Excellent article, Miranda, thank you!

    I was on the phone with a potential client the other day who couldn’t understand that I needed to ask them questions before telling them which platforms they should use and what they should do to promote their products the right way.

    I kept explaining that social media works in the same way as what you would do offline: Get acquainted with your audience, understand your goals, and strategize based on them. Then, make it a point to create a community of advocates.

    The best content can only exists if you know what you are doing.

  8. Avatar Paul Sanders says

    There’s a blurry line between being yourself, being authentic and still protecting your brand, which is probably the most important thing when you’re in business. Of course, you can always just follow your mom’s advice: “If you can’t say something nice…”

  9. Sometimes the huge number of likes we get makes us feel confident that we can get a lot of money from this but the truth is they are just a design to our page and not making any help to have a revenue.

  10. Nothing can be more hazardous than it. That is why they say content is the King. and that too a quality content. It has to convey the meaning of the topic.