Omg, The Hamsters Are Dying: The 8 Shocking Truths For Social Media Success

Jul 29, 2016 1 Min Read


Are you using social media for your brand?

According to statistics, you are probably nodding your head right now.
Are you running Facebook, Instagram and YouTube campaigns that are actually successful?

Most people will be shaking heads. There seems to be a fundamental problem here, because while many people are using social media, very few users are able to maximise it effectively to create measurable return of investment.

Why is that so?

Few people are aware of these five hidden factors as to whether your social media campaign will end up a rousing success—hitting those crazy KPIs and making you the toast of your company—or end up in the graveyard of bad ideas and regrets.

Let’s explore these five fundamental truths of social media and uncover how you can improve your social media efforts:


1. Social media marketing is essentially interruptive

Have you ever experienced this? You’re having a nice meal at a hawker centre, enjoying your steaming hot plate of nasi lemak.

Suddenly, a trio of buskers approaches your table out of nowhere, rudely interrupting your meal with a barely passable rendition of “We Are the World.” You swiftly—almost automatically—give them a token of RM1 so that they will quickly move on to the next table.

Here’s the brutal truth: social media falls squarely into the “interruptive” category.

Your target social media user is trolling the walls of friends and family looking for an escape. They are there to run away from their boss and to check out from the tedium of work. In addition, they are likely to participate in multiple complaint-fests about how expensive things are compared to last year.

Guess what? Your ads are like the buskers sneaking up on their digital banquet table. With a flash of annoyance, they swiftly—almost automatically—dismiss you and ignore your beautifully crafted campaign. And that brings us to the second fundamental truth of social media.



2. Social media has the worst conversion rates among all online marketing channels

Did you know that social media has some of the lowest conversion rates in digital marketing?

Studies have shown that while social media does a decent job when you use it as a branding channel as part of your marketing mix, it is terrible as a sales channel.

If you’re hawking promotions as an endless stream of status updates, I wish you all the best because it’s highly unlikely that your posts are going viral or that your customers are knocking your doors down in excitement over your latest post.

If you try to transplant what works for traditional advertising into digital without adapting for the various mediums, you will find that a lot of social-media-driven promos do not perform well.

The brutal truth is that social media is notoriously anti-commercial in nature. This is in sharp contrast to other mediums, even print, where there’s less of a resistance to commercial activity.
Next, let’s tackle the brand-favourite activity – social media contests.


3. Social media contests suck

When you’re looking for results-oriented marketing activities, social media contests rank poorly in terms of results for the brand or organisation behind it.

In this regard, I’m often perplexed as to why businesses still insist on doing contests, when statistically—at least in Singapore, —71% of content registrants comprise of serial contest participants, whose whole vocation seemingly lies in fleecing you of that delicious freebie or discount. And Malaysia is not far behind.

Contests, while somewhat effective even two years ago, are now an exercise in diminishing returns.

It is also proven that a lot of contests that involve “likes” and “shares” get “unliked” when the contest is over.

Therefore, this shows that the fans attracted during the campaign are not genuine and are definitely not engaged. And to make matters worse. . .



4. Social media is a ‘millennial meat market’

Unless you’re living under a rock, it’s not hard to realise that there are a lot of social media agencies making big promises and peddling their online marketing services.

Social media agencies have sprouted like mushrooms. Three years ago they were two to three-person teams working from the bedrooms of their parent’s houses and now, those agencies easily employ 30 to 50 people to work on their accounts.

If you’re a capitalist, you’d think that’s good news, right? Wrong.

If you closely examine the average social media agency’s profit margins, it’s insanely low. The main reason is because social media is really a lot of grunt work.


So what’s my point?

It’s a bad idea of getting your own in-house staff to manage your social media accounts.
Did you know that there’s a hamster-like critter that actually dies of boredom if you don’t play with it constantly?

Well, that’s exactly how social media works. Without constant Daily engagement, the community will die off really quickly because we’re living in the age of ADHD.

You need to maintain your social media following, engage with them, entertain them and compete with everyone else for their attention.

If they deem you boring, or if someone else comes up with better content and a better campaign, you’ll quickly lose them.


5. Social media mismanagement can kill your business

1 word—Maxis.

Recently, I read a news report where Maxis lost one million subscriptions in short order—all because it bungled some social media posts.

Right now, the new big thing in corporate training is social media crisis management. Remember the hamster-like critter analogy? Now, not only do you need to feed the pet and play with it, mistreating it may result in getting your neck ripped apart.

Few employees are prepared to deal with the emotional barrage of social media outrage and depending on one person’s response, it can end up a public relations disaster.

The more you’re reading this, the more you’re probably thinking to yourself, “What’s the point?”
It’s not all bad news.

In fact, social media can be an incredibly powerful tool that can bring home the bacon—if you know how to avoid the pitfalls and tame the beast. So how do you do that?

Here are three pointers to get you started:


1. The social media marketing medium is like a marriage

Social media is best utilised when you think in terms of brand relationship instead of short-term campaigns. After all, you probably know marriage is not a one-time affair.

The wedding does not maketh the marriage. To build a successful marriage you need to keep at it, develop a strong relationship, constantly get to know each other as you mature and change, and build trust.

Social media operates on similar principles. If you’re thinking and planning in terms of a single flashy campaign (i.e. like a wedding), your customer engagement will be short-lived since you’ll soon be forgotten and obsolete, and your brand loyalty thereafter will be at an all-time low.

So what must you do?



2. You need a ‘spark’ in your social media marketing

Marriage is a series of constants paired with a series of sparks which, when combined, lead to deeper intimacy.

These take the form of day-to-day living as well as special moments like honeymoons and anniversaries when people will book a romantic getaway at a luxury resort, meaningful holidays and surprise dates.

Here’s the tricky part: how do you, as a brand, insert yourself into the “marriages” of your target audience?

How do you increase frequency without wearing out your welcome? How many ways can you say “buy my stuff” before your customers put you on the blocked list? The short answer lies in your content strategy.

You need to syndicate both bread and butter content as well as “spark” content that boosts engagement on a consistent basis. These “sparks” come in the form of infographics, animated gifs, blog posts, and instant articles.

These types of content are non-commercial in nature, but they woo and add value to the reader through the usefulness of the message.

For example—which of these would you think will engage readers if you’re a bank? A Facebook post that shouts “Free Umbrella With Every Credit Card Application”? Or “12 Amazing Secrets to Getting More Credit Card Points”?

The latter wins. Why? Because you have to give in order to get. Social media is a channel of generosity.

When you take time to craft a message that is helpful and meaningful to your audience—posted not just for your benefit, but for theirs—they appreciate your content and they look forward to what else you have to say.



3. Pair your social media marketing with lead generation campaigns

At its heart, social media is essentially a brand awareness channel.

If you want it to generate room reservations, you need to have a hybrid content and lead gen strategy.

For example, you would drive a lot of traffic to a specific “spark” content and then, use a remarketing pixel to create a retargeting campaign that sends people to a lead generation form.

This is a dual modality strategy where you “prime” the consumer out of their escapism by engaging them with something they’re interested in, and then following through after you’ve established the initial contact.

For example, if I were running a resort and I wanted to promote a special room rate, here is one way I would create my hybrid strategy.

    •  Drive traffic to a spark article e.g. “7 Breathtaking and Romantic Spots in Rural Malaysia.”
      In this particular article, I would “seed” desire for the experience by highlighting the benefits of visiting such a romantic spot because it’s tranquil, it’s private, and a change of scenery creates a shared experience for a couple.And, one of the points is maybe to stay in my resort which so happens to be very romantic and located in a beautiful remote area.


    • All the visitors to the article will now get a cookie, meaning that based on their visit to my article, my campaign now has their data so I can “haunt” them with my ads—when they are on another website or on Facebook and remind them on what they’re missing out on to trigger that subtle seed or desire to go on a romantic rural holiday.You may have experienced this “haunting” when you’ve visited Agoda, or AirAsia—and then you start seeing them everywhere!


    • Remarket to these article readers with a lead generation campaign because they’re already primed to at least be interested in your resort’s offer.


It may seem like a lot of steps, but believe me, this is the only way to sustain a good level of social media-related conversions.

And here’s a bonus tip:

If you’re really looking for sales, do this instead

If you’re really looking to drive your bookings, the best way forward is to engage the following digital marketing channels: SEO (search engine optimisation), SEM (search engine marketing) and Facebook Lead Cards.

Here’s why:

Users of these mediums are mission-minded, meaning they’re actively looking for a solution—they know what they want.

You just need to get in front of them with your matching offer. They have a higher buyer intent than users who are mindlessly surfing social media with no specific goal or objective.

For instance, if you’re selling diabetes supplements, a Facebook post at a specific time is quickly swept away by other posts on their timeline. It can complement—but can’t really compete—with someone who is frantically searching Google for a way to urgently lower their blood sugar naturally.

There’s really no contest in terms of buyer intent and potential conversion.
In conclusion, social media can be your business’ demise if you’re ignorant of its tendencies.

On the flip side, social media is amazingly powerful if you’re expanding your brand awareness and you’re willing to play by the rules of the game.

And the best news is that those hamster-like critters can live another day.

Kenneth Yu is the World Brand Congress Asia Pacific Digital Influencer 2016 and an External Stakeholder Panelist for Monash University, auditing the communications programmes for industry suitability. A serial entrepreneur, he’s the group CEO of SpurPress and Marketing Inc, regional digital marketing agencies with worldwide offices serving diverse clients like McDonald’s, Fujitsu, Groupon, Digi and Maxis. He is the upcoming author of the book ‘Quit the Rain Dance: How to Create Blockbuster Digital Campaigns At Will’. You can keep in touch with him at and For more Consulting Corner articles, click here.















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