I have watched over the last couple of years as many companies started to look to social media and look for ways to make this particular media form be productive for them.
I have also watched as these companies have tried to operate under the assumption that one form of advertising is the same as any other, and that the approach to social media is the same as to print media or TV.
The problem is two fold.
One is the demographics. You need to understand the demographics of the audience watching your company through the various social media networks. It also needs to be clearly understood that this is not the same demographic who is watching on TV or reading in print.
The other is approach. You can have two people from similar demographics seeing your advertisment on various media platforms. However the person who would see it primarily on TV needs to be approached differently then the person who sees the ad primarily in print and that is a completely different approach from the person seeing it on social media.
Other problems I have noticed is the lack of basic understanding of social media. For example, I have seen Twitter and Facebook accounts for companies that only ever post an advertisement or link to their products and services. These types of accounts tend to lose followers quickly or have a very disengaged audience. What I have also seen is customers who have a concern or a complaint often being ignored or not responded to (or even comments deleted) when in fact they must not only be responded to, but responded to publicly and make an active visible effort to solve the concern or answer the question.
The thing most companies need to understand about social media, is that social media is interactive. It is not the one sided platform that is found in print and TV it is more on par with the customer in your sales room dealing with a soft sell pitch.
For any business considering getting into social media, or looking for explanations why their social media is not as productive as they would like, I would seriously recommend talking directly with a social media expert. Even if your social media program has been butchered in the past, there is usually things that can be done to fix and repair the damage.