The Social Media Minefield – Five factors blocking your success

by Mark Schaefer

As you create marketing plans for your own business — or if your current efforts are stagnating — maybe it’s time to step back and look at your own “landmines” that are keeping you from your goals.

When I work with clients on marketing strategies, we spend a lot of time working through the hurdles to implementation success, particularly if it is a large, bureaucratic company.

Part of the process is to have a brain-storming session to think through all of the factors that could cause our ideas to fail. Then, one by one, we come up with proactive countermeasures to knock out those landmines before they blow our plans to pieces.

One Fortune 500 company I have been working with has been aggressively moving its marketing team into the digital age. They reported to me that no matter where they go in the world, the same five factors come up over and over again.  As I compare this to my experiences working with organizations of every size and type, I think these five factors are universal. These seem to be the same obstacles EVERYBODY is struggling with:

1) Budget and resources 

“We already have a full plate. We don’t have time for something new.”

“We’ll let the intern do it.”

“This will have to wait until next year’s budgeting cycle.”

2) ROI – KPI

“Until you can demonstrate an ROI for this, the project is on hold.”

“Social media is fine if you can fit this into our existing measurement dashboard.”

“We need to make social media a profit center that pulls its own weight.”

3) IT – Tech support

“Shouldn’t the IT department own social media strategy?”

“We’re too busy figuring out cloud computing to help with your Facebook app.”

“The IT department budget is fixed on project work like infrastructure.”

4) Legal and regulatory

“Federal guidelines prohibit us from having a social media presence.”

“The Legal Department will have to approve everything we publish each day.”

“The legal risk of responding to consumers is far too great. Say nothing.”

5) Culture and change management

“Facebook is for kids. This is not something for our company.”

“I tried Twitter and I hated it. Nobody on the board uses it either so our company doesn’t need it.”

“Our company is very successful with what we have been doing for years. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”

Sound familiar?

Of these, “Culture” is the most pervasive challenge. It’s sort of an umbrella problem for all of these issues because even if you fix the others, if the company culture doesn’t align with the requirements of being a “social organization,” you will never create sustainable change.

As you create marketing plans for your own business — or if your current efforts are stagnating — maybe it’s time to step back and look at your own “landmines” that are keeping you from your goals.  Focusing on removing the internal roadblocks will give you the only chance of long-term marketing success.

This takes time and patience, but if you don’t do this hard work upfront, even the most brilliant plan is destined for a slow, painful failure.

How does this resonate with you? How are you dealing with your Social Media Minefield?

This article was first published a {grow}.


Mark Schaefer is a globally-recognized business writer, university lecturer, and innovator, receiving seven international patents for new product ideas with Fortune 100 companies. He is a marketing faculty member at Rutgers University and has been a keynote speaker at major conferences around the nation. Mark is the author of the best-selling books The Tao of Twitter and Return on Influence and has appeared in the New York Times, CBS This Morning, Fox News, INC Magazine, MSNBC, Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, and many other publications.


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