You may not be able to predict the viral success of a social campaign, but you can definitely set one up to fail. From my perch in the agency world, I've observed that clients have the tendency to make the same mistakes. Here are five wildly popular ways to make sure your next social campaign never takes off.
Put your entire social budget behind a single platform. If you want to drop-kick your next social campaign, make sure to pick just one platform and treat the rest like disfigured orphans. You've seen the brands that put everything into Facebook and push links to their content on other platforms? That's top-notch campaign killing right there. All for one and one for nothing.
Ignore any strategy that doesn't align with your gut instincts. Given that most senior marketers on both sides of the table have very little time to stay abreast of best practices, let alone discover next practices, relying on gut instinct is a great way to hold a campaign under water until it stops struggling. Focus on how you feel about things and ignore the data. You don't tweet so why should others?
Leave legal and rights management until right before launch. Talent negotiations can take months, so make sure to wait until everything is built and TV spots are back from the production company before you start asking why your campaign isn't like Old Spice's. That way you're locked into a single piece of content with limited shelf life, so even if it does get 10 million views on YouTube, you'll have to take it down after 12 months because your talent contract ended.
Only use technology you've seen competitors use. This is one of the best ways any marketer can drop at least $100,000 on something meaningless. That Facebook tab built 12 months ago by your competitor is a relic from a time when people actually looked at tabs. If lack of awareness is a result (as it is in crisis management sometimes), then you'll drive tremendous results.
Don't listen to any feedback from anywhere, ever. Of all the ways to ruin a social campaign, this is the most effective. Whether it's feedback from an agency partner, a client, a vendor or consumers, toss it aside. And if you are forced to measure social, do it with a platform that makes pie charts about sentiment with a margin of error even an English major knows is too big. No marketer ever sets out to ruin a campaign, social or otherwise. But social campaigns continue to flatline. Why? Because great content is hard to create, insights are difficult to obtain, and the people with the power to change things seldom know how.
The opportunity lies in doing things differently. Invest in great content based on real insights and stay flexible. Things will break, tempers will flare, and you'll finally stand a chance at having your brand do something awesome.
Marketers, please, please stop standing in the way of your own success.
Seth Simonds is social innovation director at Mullen. He's a charter member of Google's G-Stars program and advocates on behalf of siestas and sangria. Follow him on Twitter: @sethsimonds.