Friday, August 10, 2012

5 Nightmare Social Clients

With social media and dollar
symbols dancing in their heads!
As social media become more mainstream the ways they can help become more apparent to business owners.

In social media strategy consulting this means a greater variety of owners looking for help to get started or do a better job in social. Sadly, it also means more potential social clients who are, to put it mildly, "nightmares." 

These are the folks who are sure they know they need social media (and at least they recognize this), but get things off to a bad start in initial discussions by making it clear that the help they need may be way beyond the scope of a social media strategist to provide.

Here are 5 Nightmare Social Clients that anyone in social media strategy consulting will walk away from (or at least find to be a lot of heavy lifting):

The Lemming:
"I need to be on social media because everyone else is. " This usually mild-mannered customer often has a business that really could benefit from making social part of the marketing and customer-relations plans, but is equally likely to have no idea why. This is the least-scary of the nightmare clients because if (and it can be a big "if") they are open-minded and eager to learn they can be persuaded to do all the right things in social and ultimately be successful. Equally likely, however, is that they will never truly buy into social and your time will have been wasted.

The Square Peg:
"Social media will save me money and get me extra sales." This type is usually doing OK with traditional media for advertising and marketing. But they’ve seen social media and it has dollar signs dancing around their head (i.e. more sales at less cost). This "Square Peg" approach to pushing sales and marketing messages won’t work in the round hole that is social media. The only way to save this nightmare is to show them some examples of successful "round peg" approaches … and even then their first question will likely be: "How cheaply can I do this?"

The Naïve:
"I already have a blog and a Twitter, I just don’t understand why they aren’t working." If it were this simple, wouldn’t everybody be enjoying phenomenal success? This fact escapes the Naïve. This customer is a nightmare because they usually "just want a few minutes of your time" and hope that a single consult will set everything right. The only hope of turning this person into a good client is showing them that a long-term plan with frequent checkups and tweaks will lead to success. Again, the reality check ("this will take time and effort") has a good chance of scaring them off.

The Unrealistic: 
"The way I see it you can help me find new customers etc. all for a few minutes a day on Facebook." One of the more frustrating potential clients: They will often go to great lengths to impress upon you how much they already know about social media and all they really want "is a quick guide to using this stuff for business." They often have no marketing plan (or a poorly-thought-out one) and usually don’t understand that to be effective social media will require time and patience. This is the first of the "nightmares" who may not be able to be rescued.

The Impossible: 
"What do you mean you charge $XX an hour and think it will take a minimum of XX hours to develop a plan for me? I thought this stuff (social media) was free and easy to use?" This is the nightmare you should walk (no, make that RUN) away from as soon as you hear these words. No amount of explanation and good examples will turn them around. They usually have no interest in social except as a way to make money/save expense and, more often than not, will not be willing to put in anything but a minimal effort. Like I said, RUN, away from this person.

So what do you think? Are certain potential social media strategy clients "nightmares"? Should you walk away from them or try to "save" them? Are there other types of "nightmares" out there?

Further reading: The customer is (not) always right


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