Having spent some time participating on most of the popular social networks from a B2B social media marketing perspective, I have listed a number of things you can do to ensure your social media efforts fail dismally. Commit these cardinal sins and some of the scenes from Dante’s Inferno will seem like a picnic by comparison.

1. No “buy-in” from the entire organisation Social media is not a one man band. It is something that involves your whole organisation. Your community manager may be the primary voice of your organisation but it requires a collective effort from everyone. It is a many-to-many relationship and all employees should participate enthusiastically.

2. Organisational culture not shining through In a recent article entitled Three Reasons Why Happy Brands Win in Social Media, Chris Dessi states “Social media, it has been said can be the ultimate BS meter. You can “fake” happiness for a short period of time, but it is highly difficult to fake it in the long-term. This tends to trip up companies that don’t take social media seriously, don’t have a social media seriously, don’t have a social media strategy, and have a weak corporate culture”.

3. No engagement with your major stakeholders There is absolutely no point in participating on any social network if you haven’t done your homework first and identified who you want to engage with and where they are on the Internet. There are many tools and directories you can use to find out where your target market is and who (VERY IMPORTANT) influences them. Obtain this information first before you do anything.

4. No engagement strategy in place Do not haphazardly bombard your followers, Likes, subscribers with content (however good it is) without developing a proper engagement strategy first. Make sure you understand how your target market prefers to consume content and how they want to engage with you. Remember this will differ dependent on the communication channel. Test continuously. If something doesn’t work, try something else. The important thing here is the emphasis on ENGAGING!

5. No measurement Before participation, agree on the key performance indicators (and there are many) you will measure across each channel. Make sure you get your primary stakeholders to agree on the KPI’s and the measurement criteria. Three key measures we use are conversions (new subscribers, Likes, Follows, etc), number of conversations, number of physical engagement (ie meeting) and new deals.

6. Inadequate budget We have presented a number of clients with proposals to develop and operationalise their social media strategies and they have baulked at the figures presented. Social media is not a “back office” function, managed by a “low-level” individual. It is the complete opposite.

I hope this provides you with some food for thought before you embark on your B2B social media marketing quest. If you have anything to add, I will love to hear from you.