We Have Sinned

Here's today's Social Media Insider, originally published in MediaPost

It's
time to atone.

Some may appreciate the timing, as it coincides with yesterday's
observance of Yom Kippur, Judaism's Day of Atonement, the climax of a period of
repentance. Everyone has some sins to atone for, including marketers and
agencies trying to engage consumers through social media. Today, we'll confess.

On the Day of Atonement, one of the most memorable prayers is a
short confessional where a series of sins are listed alphabetically in Hebrew.
It's unlikely anyone reciting the confessional has committed all such sins over
the past year, but one recognizes that these sins have been committed. Some
sins listed are so broad, such as scorning and sinning willfully, that most
likely everyone will have committed them.

Below is our confessional, for marketers and agencies. Similar to
the spirit of the liturgy, we haven't all committed all of these sins, but most
of these transgressions should be familiar.

We Have Sinned

We have awkwardly
applied
metrics like click-through rates to social marketing
programs when we could have found more appropriate ways to quantify results
that aligned with our business objectives.

We have bribed
consumers to be our friends without devising ways to connect with our real fans
and sustain communication with them.

We have ceded
control
of our social programs to interns, or lawyers, or those
who are not in the best position to be the faces and voices of our brands.

We have deceived
ourselves, falling in love with our ideas without considering what would
provide value for our target audience.

We have eavesdropped
on consumers, instead of actually hearing them and listening to them.

We have failed
to monitor social channels for discussions of our brands and competitors.

We have guessed
at our target audience's interests and activities rather than conducting
research that could have provided real answers.

We have hurried
into the newest, most-buzzed-about social spaces without developing a strategy.

We have imitated
when we could have innovated.

We have judged
competitors harshly for making the same mistakes we made.

We have killed
ideas that were spot on in favor of pet projects that we wanted for our
portfolios.

We have lost
consumers by organizing social architectures that were impossible to navigate
coherently.

We have mismanaged
social marketing by shoehorning it into someone's job
description.

We have neglected
to integrate social marketing with broader marketing programs.

We have overreached,
hoping for content to go viral without investing in resources to properly
create, distribute, and promote it.

We have partitioned
our organizations so rigidly that we can't plan earned and paid media together.

We have quarreled
over who should own social media in our organization.

We have repurposed
creative and messaging from other channels when we should have
adapted or created it for these social spaces.

We have shortchanged
social marketing by planning campaigns instead of ongoing programs.

We have tuned
out
consumers' criticism when we could have engaged with them
to better understand it, or we could have learned from it to ensure other
consumers wouldn't have such problems in the future.

We have undervalued
and underfunded
social programs to such an extent that we have
set them up for failure.

We have violated
consumers' trust by not being fully transparent as to our identities and
objectives.

We have wronged
consumers by not respecting their privacy.

We have xenophobically
avoided any forms of social media beyond the ones we use ourselves.

We have yelled
when we could have conversed.

We have zigzagged
between the path we knew was best and the path that was most convenient, even
when we could have prevented our transgressions.

Acknowledging these sins is not the same as absolving ourselves of
them, but it is the first step on the path to repentance. What we can hope and
strive for us that next year, should our community as a whole revisit this
confessional, the transgressions will seem more alien — a memory of how we
were and a sign of how far we've come.

What other sins must we atone for? Add your contributions to the
confessional in the comments.

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