I just read a great blog: Why your social media initiatives will fail in 2011 by Adam Kmiec. It got me to thinking (very dangerous) about the root of what drives social media – content – and why so much of it stinks. So, I came up with a few reasons why:

1. Content Strategy. You don’t leave on a trip without first checking Mapquest. Why would you start posting on Facebook or Twitter without having a plan? Too many brands post content based on the moment and find themselves scrambling on a daily basis for what to post (sound familiar?). As you develop your social platforms think about what it is you want to say about yourself. Social Media affords you the opportunity to put a real face on your nonprofit or business. Think about who you are. Think about the personality you wish to project. And, most importantly, think about what you want to share about yourself. Focusing in on these points will make it easier to find content that fits your overall branding strategy.

2. Do some research. What is important to your potential followers? What is it that you do that matters to them? If you combine this with step #1 you will narrow the content funnel. By narrowing your search you can go deeper in areas of importance. However, not knowing what your audience wants means you’re posting blindly. You’re hoping they like what you have to say.

3. It is all about you. In social media it is all about me. The number one content violation I see businesses commit is they talk exclusively about themselves. We do this, and we can provide that and we are this. I’m sorry, but what does that have to do with me? As I wrote here, your content has to fulfill a need, want or desire of mine for me to care. My goal is not to help you sell things or raise funds. Your goal is to show me how your product or service makes my life better.

4. You’re boring. Sorry, but someone on your social media team has to be able to write. They need a consistent point-of-view. They must communicate succinctly and effectively. As Shakespeare wrote: “…Brevity is the soul of wit...”. It doesn’t get more brief than 140 characters.

5. You’re Selling. If you enter the world of Social Media thinking its just another direct marketing platform you are destined to lose. Your audience does not engage on social media looking for your latest ad campaign. True, a large percentage of those folks are looking for deals or coupons but they are equally interested in learning more about your product. These interactions help form their buying or donating decisions. Don’t simply re-purpose your marketing campaigns on social media. Use the ideas of those campaigns to make your fans care.

6. No reason to react. The point of social media marketing is to engage with your audience. This means you have to make them think, react or find some emotional reason to interact with or share your content. Simply adding the question ‘What do you think?” to the end of a post is not a substitute for real engagement.

Take a moment to think about your personal involvement with social media. What friends do you ignore? What makes you respond? The social media process functions on an emotional level. If something makes you laugh, cry or think you are more likely to – if not actively respond – think of that person in a favorable way. And, if they continue to ring that emotional bell you will elevate them to top-of-mind awareness.

Social media takes time to build. There are few overnight success stories. The way you build is with solid, memorable content. That requires effort, planning and focus. And, even though it takes time to build a community, you do have to hit the ground running. The old adage of you never get a second chance to make a first impression applies to social media.

Start slowly but start smart.

Your thoughts?