Why Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

Social media strategy sucks

Social media is crap. Social media is a waste of money and time. Social media can’t be measured so we’re just wasting energy. Social media doesn’t offer lead generation. Blah blah blah.

I’ve seen a ton of criticism about social media and what it can and can’t do. People and companies are quick to jump in and castrate those of us using the medium as charlatans and maggots. Generally the excuse is any one of the reasons above, amongst others.

Most times the biggest complaint is that “social media isn’t working for us”, and because of that, social media is automatically a crap shoot.

But maybe those doing the loudest complaining should take a long hard look in the mirror and ask why it’s not working. Because I’m pretty sure that it’s not because of the reasons given at the start of this post, but a far simpler one – your social media strategy sucks.

And here’s why.

Blogs and Books Are Your Education

You read a ton of blogs. You follow all the big names and hang on their every word, gleaning nuggets of wisdom and tips and real-life examples of companies that “did social media right”. Then you take these posts and use them for your business, or product, or team.

And then get all upset because the advice in A-List Blogger’s latest masterpiece didn’t work for you. But are you really surprised?

A blog post isn’t a strategy. A blog post isn’t a campaign measurement stick. A blog post isn’t a research and development program. A blog post is just a drop of water in a bigger pool of ideas that bring a strategy to life.

A blog post isn’t specifically written for you, either – it’s a generic cover-all that can apply to thousands of other readers, some of whom will be your competitors. So why would you replace specific with generic?

As for these never-ending social media books that are hitting the marketplace at the rate of what seems like one a week? Many are just regurgitated blog posts with a new introduction anyway, so all you’re doing is doubling your chance of failure.

Forget generic – start thinking specific.

It’s Not Strategy If There’s No End Goal

Setting goalsWhat’s your end goal with your social media activity? What are you looking to get out of it?

Brand awareness? More eyeballs on your company blog? Sales? Customer service satisfaction levels up? Head hunt new employees? None of the above?

If you’re going into social media without an end goal in mind, why are you even going in? Where’s the benefit? Is it because your competitor is doing the Twitter and they look like they’re having fun and getting people talking to them?

Great – but what’s being said between your competitor and these people? Is there an end goal there? Is it simply building relations on another platform, much like having open days at your workplace and inviting the public in?

Whatever it is, if you’re not getting any results it’s because you haven’t set any results up to be met.

  • Ask how many connected conversations it’s going to take to turn into one sale.
  • Ask how many products you’ll have to give away via a blogger outreach program to raise awareness, positive sentiment and actionable intent on your audience’s behalf.
  • Ask how many people you’ll need to man the social phones and react to hundreds if not thousands of questions being thrown at you.
  • Ask what your cut-off date is and what happens next – cut and run or adapt and conquer?

Every single thing we do in life has an end goal. The difference with life is that our very end goal we have no choice in. But in business, you do. Set your end goals out and work strategically toward them.

You Don’t Believe

You’ve used print and radio ads for longer than you can remember. They must be working, because you’re still in business. Besides, everyone reads newspapers or listens to the radio – you have a guaranteed audience. Can the same be said of social media?

Well, yes, it can, with targeted audience marketing. But let’s forget that for now, because you don’t believe you can target success in social media. You don’t believe you can bring in sales with social media, or improve your business practices, or customer satisfaction level, even though there are plenty of examples of these and more.

Simply put, you don’t believe in social media. And as that wise little guy Yoda once said, that is why you fail.

Sure, you’re tweeting. Yes, you’re Facebooking. Yes, you’re Linking In. But your heart’s not in it. You’re not in it. You’re only here because others said you should be.

But you know, maybe you don’t need to be – social media isn’t for everyone. It is for everyone’s customers, but then there’s a whole other approach you can take for that.

So stop wasting your time. If you don’t believe in something, are you really going to put your heart in it? No. Plain and simple.

Believe or leave.

It Doesn’t Need to Be This Way

I could run a ton of other reasons off why your social media strategy sucks, but I think you get the gist. Some of it might be you, the complainer’s fault; some of it might be your boss and his or her whip cracking on you.

But it’s not a lost cause. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Everything can be turned around; all courses can be plotted again and new directions taken when an obstacle or turbulence kicks in. Just because you think it sucks now doesn’t mean it can’t suck a whole lot less in a fairly short amount of time.

  • Stop acting on what works for others and build for what works for you.
  • Take advice with a grain of salt and ask if that great post is really talking to you, or just talking (albeit greatly).
  • Write your own books. They don’t need to be physical – successful campaigns are books, just in a different format.
  • Think with the endgame in mind, or don’t play the game, period.

Bad strategy sucks, not social media. But then isn’t that true for everything?

image: JKonig
image: successfromthenest

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.
124 comments
Natalie
Natalie

Hey Danny!

Thanks for the inspiring text. I awoke up in the middle of the night today and I saw a twitter with the link of your text. I think it was the most inspiring morning for my work that I had in months. Actually, everyone wants to be in social networks but do not know "why", "how" or "when". Funny thing is that it's often the analyst to propose what would be the best for the customer, isn'it strange? Our profession eventually lead us to perform multiple functions, not to mention getting great results at no cost. To "teach" to consumers and businesses to understand the power, scope and complexity of social networks is also our task. I will share your text to all my community, friends, followers, etc... Thank you sooo much!!

Big Hug,

Natalie*

Natalie
Natalie

Hey Danny!

Thanks for the inspiring text. I awoke up in the middle of the night today and I saw a twitter with the link of your text. I think it was the most inspiring morning for my work that I had in months. Actually, everyone wants to be in social networks but do not know "why", "how" or "when". Funny thing is that it's often the analyst to propose what would be the best for the customer, isn'it strange? Our profession eventually lead us to perform multiple functions, not to mention getting great results at no cost. To "teach" to consumers and businesses to understand the power, scope and complexity of social networks is also our task. I will share your text to all my community, friends, followers, etc... Thank you sooo much!!

Big Hug,

Natalie*

Natalie
Natalie

Hey Danny! Thanks for the inspiring text. I awoke up in the middle of the night today and I saw a twitter with the link of your text. I think it was the most inspiring morning for my work that I had in months. Actually, everyone wants to be in social networks but do not know "why", "how" or "when". Funny thing is that it's often the analyst to propose what would be the best for the customer, isn'it strange? Our profession eventually lead us to perform multiple functions, not to mention getting great results at no cost. To "teach" to consumers and businesses to understand the power, scope and complexity of social networks is also our task. I will share your text to all my community, friends, followers, etc... Thank you sooo much!! Big Hug, Natalie*

Brandy
Brandy

Hi Danny, I really loved the post. I am a social media marketer for various clients and surprisingly I run into people who jump on the "bandwagon" just because their competitors are doing it quite often. The most surprising thing is when I ask "what are your goals for your profiles?" the usual response is x number of fans/followers in x amount of time. That's it. And then they wonder why nobody's listening. Its an obstacle that I am learning to deal with because as you said "Bad strategy sucks, not social media."

Brandy
Brandy

Hi Danny, I really loved the post. I am a social media marketer for various clients and surprisingly I run into people who jump on the "bandwagon" just because their competitors are doing it quite often. The most surprising thing is when I ask "what are your goals for your profiles?" the usual response is x number of fans/followers in x amount of time. That's it. And then they wonder why nobody's listening. Its an obstacle that I am learning to deal with because as you said "Bad strategy sucks, not social media."

Jay Pinkert
Jay Pinkert

I dont' recall anyone asking whether a portrait of me with a "suck voice" caption could be used to illustrate this post. :)

My sense is that you could do a search/replace on this post, substituting "social media strategy" with "marketing strategy." If an organization can't tease tactic from strategy in social media, it's highly unlikely that they've got it sussed out in other marketing disciplines, either.

Jay Pinkert
Jay Pinkert

I dont' recall anyone asking whether a portrait of me with a "suck voice" caption could be used to illustrate this post. :) My sense is that you could do a search/replace on this post, substituting "social media strategy" with "marketing strategy." If an organization can't tease tactic from strategy in social media, it's highly unlikely that they've got it sussed out in other marketing disciplines, either.

Joel Libava
Joel Libava

Danny,

Great post.

Gini D. ReTweeted it, and I like your tude.

Keep on keepin on!

The Franchise King®

Joel Libava
Joel Libava

Danny, Great post. Gini D. ReTweeted it, and I like your tude. Keep on keepin on! The Franchise King®

Viktor Nagornyy
Viktor Nagornyy

Ha! I just wrote a post with a same title yesterday, similar content but inspired by something else.

I have to agree with everything in here. You need to know your final destination to know how to get there and how long it might take you. Simply knowing the direction doesn't help and can't be measured.

Viktor Nagornyy
Viktor Nagornyy

Ha! I just wrote a post with a same title yesterday, similar content but inspired by something else. I have to agree with everything in here. You need to know your final destination to know how to get there and how long it might take you. Simply knowing the direction doesn't help and can't be measured.

Viktor Nagornyy
Viktor Nagornyy

Ha! I just wrote a post with a same title yesterday, similar content but inspired by something else.

I have to agree with everything in here. You need to know your final destination to know how to get there and how long it might take you. Simply knowing the direction doesn't help and can't be measured.

Todd herman
Todd herman

Social media marketing is merely a cash grab like ppc is. When is the last time you purchased from an add on any social platform? Prob never. The point is here that anyone can be social on there profile on any social network without paying a dime. Seriously, when is the last time you went to a social website to purchase? Never we go to social websites to be social not purchase. Wake up people, its only a cash grab for these websites and very none effective for any company to invest in pay adds on the social networks. My comp-aqny hads lost clients due to this greedy implementation of the social networks. T

Todd herman
Todd herman

Social media marketing is merely a cash grab like ppc is. When is the last time you purchased from an add on any social platform? Prob never. The point is here that anyone can be social on there profile on any social network without paying a dime. Seriously, when is the last time you went to a social website to purchase? Never we go to social websites to be social not purchase. Wake up people, its only a cash grab for these websites and very none effective for any company to invest in pay adds on the social networks. My comp-aqny hads lost clients due to this greedy implementation of the social networks. T

Todd herman
Todd herman

Social media marketing is merely a cash grab like ppc is. When is the last time you purchased from an add on any social platform? Prob never. The point is here that anyone can be social on there profile on any social network without paying a dime. Seriously, when is the last time you went to a social website to purchase? Never we go to social websites to be social not purchase. Wake up people, its only a cash grab for these websites and very none effective for any company to invest in pay adds on the social networks. My comp-aqny hads lost clients due to this greedy implementation of the social networks. T

Craig McGill
Craig McGill

Great post that will get shared about lots I'm sure. As you say Danny, it you don't have a goal defined - basically start at the end when planning your SM activity - then you're going to screw up. So many think that 'day to day engagement with fans' is enough of a strategy and it isn't. It can be part of one, but shouldn't be the whole aim.

The thing that makes it so frustrating is that by being able to define your own end result/goal you make it pretty easy to actually give yourself a realistic social media win that you can take to the sceptics and go 'see, this is how it works and here's what we achieved' but so many fail to see the benefit of that.

All the best for 2011,

Craig

Craig McGill
Craig McGill

Great post that will get shared about lots I'm sure. As you say Danny, it you don't have a goal defined - basically start at the end when planning your SM activity - then you're going to screw up. So many think that 'day to day engagement with fans' is enough of a strategy and it isn't. It can be part of one, but shouldn't be the whole aim. The thing that makes it so frustrating is that by being able to define your own end result/goal you make it pretty easy to actually give yourself a realistic social media win that you can take to the sceptics and go 'see, this is how it works and here's what we achieved' but so many fail to see the benefit of that. All the best for 2011, Craig

Jonha | iJustDid.org
Jonha | iJustDid.org

This post is EVERYWHERE! Looks like everyone's having fun sharing it from Facebook, Twitter (look at the retweets), SocialMediaClub, SocialMediaToday, among others. :-)

The main problem that we encounter is that we plan what we want but most of the time, we just can't get it from our targeted markets. Of course, it's a matter of what we're doing wrong.

Jonha | iJustDid.org
Jonha | iJustDid.org

This post is EVERYWHERE! Looks like everyone's having fun sharing it from Facebook, Twitter (look at the retweets), SocialMediaClub, SocialMediaToday, among others. :-) The main problem that we encounter is that we plan what we want but most of the time, we just can't get it from our targeted markets. Of course, it's a matter of what we're doing wrong.

mike_mcgrail
mike_mcgrail

Hi Danny,

Superb post, sums up so many of my thoughts re social media and lack of strategy. Too many people look for the 'quick win'(this was one of my wishes for social media in 2011 over on The Social Penguin Blog) and when it fails to materialise, spit the dummy and claim 'social media doesn't work'. Put some thought and planning in before you start people!

Top work as ever!

mike_mcgrail
mike_mcgrail

Hi Danny,

Superb post, sums up so many of my thoughts re social media and lack of strategy. Too many people look for the 'quick win'(this was one of my wishes for social media in 2011 over on The Social Penguin Blog) and when it fails to materialise, spit the dummy and claim 'social media doesn't work'. Put some thought and planning in before you start people!

Top work as ever!

mike_mcgrail
mike_mcgrail

Hi Danny, Superb post, sums up so many of my thoughts re social media and lack of strategy. Too many people look for the 'quick win'(this was one of my wishes for social media in 2011 over on The Social Penguin Blog) and when it fails to materialise, spit the dummy and claim 'social media doesn't work'. Put some thought and planning in before you start people! Top work as ever!

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

And upcoming subject I am going to write about if businesses need to find their independent voice and find an independent advisor. Without being catty quite a few Social Media 'Rockstars' I don't read their blogs or follow them on Twitter. Mashable is rubbish. But people don't know this. I went to see Peter Shankman speak because I am friends with him via Social. The attendees were not marketers.

So your post here rocks because you highlight some sensitive subjects. Businesses need to find people to advise them who have zero monetary bias outside of the success of their business. If I have a platform, a media channel, or a book to sell I am going to be biased.

But then hey I have a direct line to God please send me $100 by 10pm tomorrow. Thank you.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

And upcoming subject I am going to write about if businesses need to find their independent voice and find an independent advisor. Without being catty quite a few Social Media 'Rockstars' I don't read their blogs or follow them on Twitter. Mashable is rubbish. But people don't know this. I went to see Peter Shankman speak because I am friends with him via Social. The attendees were not marketers.

So your post here rocks because you highlight some sensitive subjects. Businesses need to find people to advise them who have zero monetary bias outside of the success of their business. If I have a platform, a media channel, or a book to sell I am going to be biased.

But then hey I have a direct line to God please send me $100 by 10pm tomorrow. Thank you.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

And upcoming subject I am going to write about if businesses need to find their independent voice and find an independent advisor. Without being catty quite a few Social Media 'Rockstars' I don't read their blogs or follow them on Twitter. Mashable is rubbish. But people don't know this. I went to see Peter Shankman speak because I am friends with him via Social. The attendees were not marketers. So your post here rocks because you highlight some sensitive subjects. Businesses need to find people to advise them who have zero monetary bias outside of the success of their business. If I have a platform, a media channel, or a book to sell I am going to be biased. But then hey I have a direct line to God please send me $100 by 10pm tomorrow. Thank you.

Linda Zimmer
Linda Zimmer

Great post! Love the way you framed this. When training professionals in social media we avoid case studies like the plague - except as critical thinking critique tools, emphasizing that case studies are much too "micro-local" to be anything other than idea- fodder. Meaning... that another company cannot reproduce the exact set of circumstances and environment that made the case successful - it can't import the same people, leaders, budget, goals, customers, product, resources, etc. There is no such thing as "digital replication."

Think I'll have to include another one of your links in our resources on the subject....

Linda Zimmer
Linda Zimmer

Great post! Love the way you framed this. When training professionals in social media we avoid case studies like the plague - except as critical thinking critique tools, emphasizing that case studies are much too "micro-local" to be anything other than idea- fodder. Meaning... that another company cannot reproduce the exact set of circumstances and environment that made the case successful - it can't import the same people, leaders, budget, goals, customers, product, resources, etc. There is no such thing as "digital replication."

Think I'll have to include another one of your links in our resources on the subject....

Linda Zimmer
Linda Zimmer

Great post! Love the way you framed this. When training professionals in social media we avoid case studies like the plague - except as critical thinking critique tools, emphasizing that case studies are much too "micro-local" to be anything other than idea- fodder. Meaning... that another company cannot reproduce the exact set of circumstances and environment that made the case successful - it can't import the same people, leaders, budget, goals, customers, product, resources, etc. There is no such thing as "digital replication." Think I'll have to include another one of your links in our resources on the subject....

Dagi Cuepperss
Dagi Cuepperss

Oh, I loved this post, Danny. When you just do Social Media because you were told to do it, and you don't understand what you do it for, you'll just be a flag in the wind: relying on the next new hype to tell you what to do next. And you'll never get anywhere.

When you know the core of your business, and you know where you want to take it, the only thing you need to understand about Social Media is that it’s pretty simply about building relationships, right? You need to think about what you want to invest into building and sustaining those relationships, and what you hope to get out of them. When you got that clear, the next new book or next new platform or next new gadget may change your route a little, but you don’t start mapping out a whole different journey?

Thank you for this great read!

Danny
Danny

Hey there Natalie,

Thanks for the kind words, miss, and glad you enjoyed the post.

Agreed - it's up to us to make sure we're educating properly, and hopefully businesses will ask the right questions as well to make sure they're not setting themselves up for failure.

Cheers! :)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Natalie, Thanks for the kind words, miss, and glad you enjoyed the post. Agreed - it's up to us to make sure we're educating properly, and hopefully businesses will ask the right questions as well to make sure they're not setting themselves up for failure. Cheers! :)

Danny
Danny

Both funny and scary how many businesses just look at the numbers, Brandy, and not how much impact these numbers are making (if any). Guess we'll just have to keep educating. ;-)

Danny
Danny

Both funny and scary how many businesses just look at the numbers, Brandy, and not how much impact these numbers are making (if any). Guess we'll just have to keep educating. ;-)

Danny
Danny

Sure beats the little white G of a generic gravatar, mate - get yourself signed up! ;-)

For sure - you could probably replace it with a ton of offerings and the end result would be the same; no strategy, no success (or at least, no long-term success).

Danny
Danny

Sure beats the little white G of a generic gravatar, mate - get yourself signed up! ;-) For sure - you could probably replace it with a ton of offerings and the end result would be the same; no strategy, no success (or at least, no long-term success).

Danny
Danny

Hi there Craig,

And that's the thing - like you say, it's a win-win situation. You're successful from one client because of your approach, but then you're also able to show that success to would-be clients because you've been there and done it, as opposed to others who are just there.

Surprising the difference that can make...

Danny
Danny

Hi there Craig, And that's the thing - like you say, it's a win-win situation. You're successful from one client because of your approach, but then you're also able to show that success to would-be clients because you've been there and done it, as opposed to others who are just there. Surprising the difference that can make...

Danny
Danny

Time to change the targeted markets, perhaps? ;-)

Danny
Danny

Time to change the targeted markets, perhaps? ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Mike,

Great to see you over here, mate - just started reading the SMP blog on the recommendation of some of my colleagues, and finding it a great new read, so cheers for that. :)

Sure are a lot of dummies lying around - must be a lot of spitting going on... ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Mike, Great to see you over here, mate - just started reading the SMP blog on the recommendation of some of my colleagues, and finding it a great new read, so cheers for that. :) Sure are a lot of dummies lying around - must be a lot of spitting going on... ;-)

Danny
Danny

Exactly, Howie. The way we look at it at Bonsai is if you're successful, we're successful. Makes sure the emphasis is in the right place every time.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

sorry my damn 'grammer' sucks its late Sunday and my hockey team is getting their arse kicked.

Danny
Danny

Exactly, Howie. The way we look at it at Bonsai is if you're successful, we're successful. Makes sure the emphasis is in the right place every time.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

sorry my damn 'grammer' sucks its late Sunday and my hockey team is getting their arse kicked.

Danny
Danny

The case studies thing is a good example, Linda. Too many businesses look at case studies and think the same successes will work for them because, well, it's a case study so it offers authority.

But authority only comes from relevance to you and your business - customers, clients, employees, etc. Like you say, you can't import success, but you can import ideas and adapt.

Cheers!

Danny
Danny

The case studies thing is a good example, Linda. Too many businesses look at case studies and think the same successes will work for them because, well, it's a case study so it offers authority. But authority only comes from relevance to you and your business - customers, clients, employees, etc. Like you say, you can't import success, but you can import ideas and adapt. Cheers!

mike_mcgrail
mike_mcgrail

Cheers Danny, glad you are enjoying TSPB! Always enjoy your posts. It's something that I face more and more, people losing the plot as they haven't amassed 1000s of fans/followers/whatevers. Then I dig deeper with them and show them the levels of engagement and they tend to see the light a little. So many have so much pressure from above them and those above can be guilty of focussing on the big numbers.

mike_mcgrail
mike_mcgrail

Cheers Danny, glad you are enjoying TSPB! Always enjoy your posts. It's something that I face more and more, people losing the plot as they haven't amassed 1000s of fans/followers/whatevers. Then I dig deeper with them and show them the levels of engagement and they tend to see the light a little. So many have so much pressure from above them and those above can be guilty of focussing on the big numbers.

mike_mcgrail
mike_mcgrail

Cheers Danny, glad you are enjoying TSPB! Always enjoy your posts. It's something that I face more and more, people losing the plot as they haven't amassed 1000s of fans/followers/whatevers. Then I dig deeper with them and show them the levels of engagement and they tend to see the light a little. So many have so much pressure from above them and those above can be guilty of focussing on the big numbers.

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