(Gawkwire.com) – Like many buzzwords in the marketing arena, social marketing has been both over and under estimated. It has been hyped up beyond all belief as well as being sidelined as not a worth while investment of time and money.

I could spend this article praising social marketing or I could spent it demonizing social marketing. However, if you did a quick Google search I am sure you can find thousands of articles doing either written by authors who are far more passionate about either side than I am.

Now for this column of The Art of War, I will discuss the number one enemy when it comes to failed social marketing campaigns.

Scenario: Walmart’s Flog
What’s what: Walmart had an interesting idea. They would pay someone to get an RV and drive across the country, spending each night in a Walmart parking lot. It’s a good idea for the most part, Walmart parking lots allow you to plug you RV or Semi’s sewage line into their sewage pipes etc, some even have hookups. Again this is to cater to truckers, but RVs can use them too.

Something went wrong though. In fact, something went so wrong, Walmart canceled the RV blog, but before it could be removed from public memory, the fiasco spawned a new term, the flog (fake blog).

Solution: So what went wrong. If they were to make a blog that was suppose to be a true couple, RVing across America they should have made it a true couple RVing across America. If I were to drive cross country and say I stayed at Walmart parking lots to save on money I seriously doubt I would be commenting on how great Walmart was. Or how wonderful the people were, or basically saying anything that would sound like I have an ulterior motive. In fact, more time should have been spent talking about seeing the sights, taking pictures of monuments and national parks, reviewing restaurants I stopped at, the list goes on. I would mention Walmart very briefly.

Why?: Patience. The lack of patience is the number one enemy of a social marketing campaign. If Walmart had started slow, creating believable content (not just believable but real content, I would have actually restaurant reviews and have the couple actually go to landmarks and take pictures), and even had things like, “me and the mrs. will be stopping by Davenport tomorrow evening, come on over and say hi!” It would have been a success.

it would have given useful information
it would have been verified that they are real people
saying where you will stop will increase the likelihood that more people will see you and go to your web site.
all of this would have generated traffic
if the blog had subtle references to Walmart, not big ones mind you, just little tidbits here and there it would have increased Walmarts presence.
The Funny: Does Walmart seriously need any sort of viral/social marketing? Honestly, who hasn’t heard of Walmart and who hasn’t shopped there at least once no matter how sullied they felt afterward.

Bottom Line
If you give people something they can use they will come. As long as you have the patience to cultivate a strong community your social marketing campaign will be a success. You don’t grow a plant by dumping a ton of fertilizer and water on it. You make it grow by giving it what it needs to foster development. Once it matures, like the plant, it will bear fruit.

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