Quit looking for the easy solution and do your marketing job!

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

QR codes are failing.  Users are rejecting the Like button and unfollowing brands on Facebook. And now a product beloved to many in the blogosphere, Triberr, has had to nix its most popular feature. What do all of these events have in common? You, dear marketer, and your refusal to do your job.

In October, Sean X Cummings blogged about the failure of QR codes. In part, it’s a lack of user understanding.  But, as Sean argues, “Creative usage of a technical solution increases its viral potential and positive brand association.” The opposite is also true. When consumers repeatedly see a technical solution that offers little or no value, that wastes their time, they begin to have negative brand associations and avoid the solution.

Sean does a great job of laying out some of the ways QR codes can be used to add real value for consumers. That’s not how most marketers are using them, though. Instead, QR codes serve as a convoluted way to get to a website, when the faster way would be to just type the URL into your mobile browser.

As I wrote on {grow}, we are killing our customers with mediocre engagement. Now, even analysts like Brian Solis are predicting an “Impending Flood of Customer Unlikes and Unfollows.” Companies drank the Kool-Aid en masse, to the point where every company of any size seems to have a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account. They urge people to follow them. Then, once they have fans, they proceed to drive them away by posting largely useless or uninteresting content and making inept attempts at starting conversations.

Last month, I posted about Triberr and other tools that auto-tweet for users. In Twitter is dying—and it’s all your fault, I lamented the negative impact, the spam, that Triberr was putting into our streams. I even suggested that the best thing would be for Twitter to ban auto-tweeting.

I didn’t know that Triberr was in violation of Twitter’s Terms of Service, which apparently does ban mass auto-tweeting. It appears the Triberr founders  didn’t know that either. Am I sorry that Triberr was forced to get rid of that feature? No. I stand by what I said. It was having a negative impact on Twitter. But I am sorry that it got to the point where Twitter had to step in, because it didn’t have to get to that point.

Bloggers were so thrilled with the idea of a nearly effortless way to get more visitors to their website that they gave up any oversight or ownership of their tweets. They used Twitter as a broadcast platform to pump advertisements for posts to their followers, without ever bothering to actually read what they were promoting. If bloggers had been a little more circumspect, using manual mode most of the time or perhaps limiting their tribes to a very small number of people, maybe the spam problem wouldn’t have driven Twitter to step in.

In all of these cases, marketers—or bloggers doing their own marketing—took a technical solution and misused it. They grabbed onto the latest shiny tool and started thoughtlessly using it, in the most simplistic of fashions.

Similarly, marketers and agencies have taken the lowest common denominator of social media advice available: put up a Facebook page and start sharing content and conversing. Apparently happy that it really wasn’t all that complicated, the majority put no effort into coming up with creative ways to use Facebook pages to add real value to their customers’ online lives.

I remember talking with my dad about littering when I was a kid. I explicitly remember him pointing out that one person dropping a piece of paper or a soda can on the ground wasn’t a big problem. But you always have to remember, he said, that it’s not going to be just one person. Always think about what will happen if everyone or at least lots and lots of people drop that soda can. Is that the world you want to live in? If not, then it’s your responsibility not to add to the problem.

Your business, your blog, it doesn’t live in isolation. When you choose to take the easiest path and the cheapest solution, just remember that there are thousands and thousands of other bloggers, marketers, and businesses putting just as little thought into their actions. When everyone is taking the mediocre approach, we get a mediocre ecosystem:  a mediocre Twitter, a mediocre marketing tool, a mediocre social network. Consumers know mediocrity when they see it, and they reject it.

We reap what we sow.  If you want a better business environment and more opportunities to engage with readers or customers, put a little thought into your work. Give a little forethought to the impact of your decisions. Quit looking for the easy solution and do your job. We’ll all be better off.

Neicole Crepeau a blogger at Coherent Social Media and the creator of CurateXpress, a content curation tool. She works at Coherent Interactive on social media, website design, mobile apps, & marketing. Connect with Neicole on Twitter at @neicolec

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