Unintended Consequences of Social Media Advertising

Author: Sarah Grace McCandless Director, Global Product Management, Digital Solutions

Social Media advertising spend is at an all-time high and it’s expected to rise, possibly even double, by the year 2020 (The CMO Survey). Let’s all stop for one minute and drop it like it’s hot because 5 years ago there is no way that the Executive team would have even listened to a pitch about spending money on social media channels.  Can I get a high-five for that?

While we’re all making it rain on social channels with sponsored posts, tweets, and content there is a whole other side to social media advertising. A side that, if overlooked, could not only drown your ROI but also tarnish your brand reputation. (Social Media Today, recently published a great article on social ad prep, “5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making the Leap to Paid Social Ads”, it’s worth a look.)

Social Media advertising is exciting and can be incredibly impactful, especially if you have a healthy budget to back your brilliant campaign. I want to make sure that you not only succeed in social advertising with killer ROI but also deliver a great customer experience because, at the end of the day, it’s people on the other end of sponsored posts and it’s their happiness that determines your company’s success.

So, what can we learn about social media advertising?

Lesson #1: Customer Experience Should Always Be Your Main Goal

Where does a Facebook ad campaign end? Our jobs don’t stop after we’ve constructed the ad, set the target audience, and gotten 285 likes. What about the person who asks a question about our post? Or writes a colorful complaint on our company page that relates to the post?  We have to account for our paid content pieces being served up, generating new discussions and the place for those discussions to take place. It’s at that moment that the job to ensure a great customer experience begins. If we all go home after launching a campaign and don’t stick around for the reaction, then we’ve missed a huge opportunity to deliver up the experience that our customers deserve.

Lesson #2:  Strategy For Your Campaign Is More Important Than You Think

I know it sounds cliché but sometimes we overlook a documented strategy when planning large initiatives, especially social ones. One thing I see quite often is a reactive approach to social efforts instead of a proactive one. If you’re proactively approaching this, you’re including all of the key players in the game plan to deal with the potential surge in social support. A proactive approach would be to have a messaging plan, not a cookie cutter one, but a campaign-specific messaging plan in place before you hit “go live”.

Lesson #3: Social Media – Does it Belong to Marketing or Customer Support?

It’s both! Marketing used to own social media from a customer engagement perspective but now that now that money is being spent to reach new customers, it’s vital that we share the ownership with Customer Support. “Why?” you ask. It’s all about lessons #1 & #2; in delivering a great customer experience and having a solid social strategy in place, the best way to successfully support your campaign is to have both parties present and involved so there is consistency and no surprises. Bottom line: it’s a shared channel these days.

Lesson #4: Whatever Happens…Own It

Things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we set social campaigns in motion and overlook monitoring them closely for customer reactions. As visibility in social media for your content becomes more and more challenging, it’s understandable that we might not reply to or track comments/reactions that arise. Bottom line: if you fall short on tending to your customers then simply admit the mistake. Take fault. Take genuine responsibility for it. I think customers will actually be quite forgiving. There is an opportunity to change your brand reputation if you actually start to set a better example. But you have to actually start improving the concept. You have to prove that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do and that you’ve learned from the mistake. Sometimes the best way to communicate that is to demonstrate those behaviors and that will foster an improved customer experience.

Lesson #5: It’s OK To Enlist Help

Fast Company mentioned that messaging is already emerging as a key channel for one-on-one social customer service but its potential still remains untapped. So it’s no surprise that more than 22% of companies are leveraging outside agencies for help (The CMO Survey). Leveraging an agency that can scale and pivot quickly in addition to having global reach can ensure your social advertising investments are well supported and are using industry best practices. If a social partner intrigues you, take a look at SM | Edge, backed by industry experts that put customer experience first.

Final thoughts…

So there you have it, folks. Social advertising can be a beautiful thing, we just have to be sure we are prepared for the reactions that may come along with it. Now you know what to look for- strategize on the best campaign and support tactics, deliver up meaningful and interactive ads, and foster exceptional customer experience.

You got this.

SGM_headshotSarah Grace McCandless carries over a decade of experience in consumer marketing, with extensive work in digital and social media strategy, including community management and customer care support. As Director of Global Product Management, Digital Solutions for SYKES, Sarah Grace manages SM|Edge, the strategic SYKES solution providing comprehensive, cost-effective global social media customer care and support.

Prior to joining SYKES, Sarah Grace developed programs for a number global and national companies, including Nike, Starbucks, Nestlé, HTC, Microsoft, Animal Planet / Discovery Communications, the USO, NBC Universal, Bravo, FX, Dodge, Audi, Dark Horse Comics, and more. She has served as an instructor for Mediabistro and panelist at a number of social media thought leadership events, and is also the author of two novels.

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