How many social networks do you have a personal account on? Now think about how many you actually use on a regular basis – those two numbers will most likely be different, and from a personal perspective that is not necessarily a negative.

Now ask yourself the same questions about your brand, your department, or your organisation. The numbers will most likely be similar to your own personal numbers, but the implications of inactive accounts for brands are potentially more damaging.

Recent research asked brands the same questions, and the results were fairly worrying from a reputational perspective:


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Looking at that graph, it is clear that brands feel the need to be everything to all people – we know, of course, that that idea is false.

We are currently working on a number of projects for our clients who want to undergo this consolidation process, and our research has unearthed accounts on social channels that the marketing departments were not even aware of – and they are most certainly not alone in this situation.

We have seen a number of different reasons for this over the years:

  • Staff turnover – someone sets up social profiles and leaves, not leaving passwords or logins in handover notes. This is more common than you might think!
  • Intrigue – I think we’ve all been guilty of setting up an account on the latest social media channel to see what it’s like, only to decide it’s not for us – just don’t forget to delete the account!
  • Time pressures – we are all busy. The amount of time needed to manage and update all the social channels you’re using is no longer manageable alongside all the other responsibilities in your role.
  • Global/departmental silos – within large companies, this is often the most common. Regional offices or departments decide to set up accounts on their own. This not only risks the strength of the wider brand or social, but could also be abandoned if engagement is not as high as expected.

And herein lies the key thing to remember – social is about reaching the right audience at the right time, not necessarily about trying to be everything to everyone all of the time. Abandoned pages, or those that are not posted on regularly, have a predictably negative impact on consumers. This should not be news to marketers – but you would be surprised how often it gets forgotten in the excitement of wanting to be early adopters of a new channel.

With the right advice and the right strategy in place, based on research about your specific audience, there could be no risk attached to a wider global approach to social. But the benefits of taking stock once in a while to see what you’ve got, whether it is working, and if time could be better spent on other channels, reduces the risks of losing control of the channels you have.

And if your brand is not as big, or if you approach social on a smaller scale, the same principles apply: focus on your audience (who they are, what they want, the channels they use and when they use them) – do your research, and social will be a highly effective channel that will be a benefit not a hindrance to your marketing mix.

It’s not new advice, and there are no boundaries being broken, but it seems it’s very easy to forget.

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