Driving to Social Media Success, Are We There Yet?
Declaring social media success requires that social media strategy and tactics be driven by business objectives and evaluated by relevant ROI metrics.
There is a lot of discussion about Driving to Social Media Success and how companies are going to be able to measure their ROSMI (Return On Social Media Investment), and therefore the success of the Social Media efforts.
Most companies recognize that Social Media marketing is necessary in 2010, though many are not sure exactly how to build their social media presence and reputation or why they have to do it, other than the fact that everyone, including the competition, seems to be doing it. Sort of like the days when there was a gold rush on the Internet, with everyone rushing to lay stake to their domain and build a magnificent website before all the Internet gold ran out, without any plans on how to drive visitors to their web sites and more importantly, to convert visitors to customers. I guess we were all drunk on the dot com bubbly that was about to burst.
With Social Media, its good to have a plan for success. Just because it is Social Media let’s not get caught getting pulled over having a bit to much cool aid to drink on our way home from FarmVille or getting hurt in the Mafia Wars! Like any corporate sponsored project, you need to have your stakeholders who should be supportive of the business objectives driving the social media strategy with supporting tactics coupled with a clear definition of success, which ultimately have to tie back to fundamental business goals such as growing market share, reducing costs of customer acquisition, building and bolstering brand.
With Social Media, there are too many types and uses to be able to come up with any single approach to measuring and tracking ROI. The approach will be driven by strategy, which will be driven by business goals. For instance, a business goal is to land 6 new accounts. Suppose you are a services business in a B2B marketplace, trying to reach decision makers who are well educated with a high household income. While you might run into these folks in FarmVille, they re more likely to be reached through a professional social network such as LinkedIn. If LinkedIn is the mechanism you use to position your business, it is certainly possible to track traffic and leads from the source, so tracking ROI, in that example can be clear. The more intangible benefits include broad brand exposure and reputation and credibility establishment. If your a local services market, then maybe LinkedIn can simply be a conduit to know who to call in within an organization whereas if you are selling to someone across 12 time zones, social media provides a great first, second, third, fourth touch point to identify leads and prospects and moving existing prospects through the funnel.
So how do you define success of the social media objectives? Much like branding, the impact, while very real, is more challenging to measure, therefore, how can social media success be defined? Well, for beginners, we can measure audience to some degree based on followers (Twitter) or friends (Facebook) or connections (LinkedIn) and subscribers (YouTube Channel). Getting your brand out in front of audiences creates touch points and contributes to moving potential customers through the funnel. Audience size is measurable and each eyeball can be assigned a value – akin to CPMs in Internet Adverting and related to the concept of audience evaluation, it’s about getting out in front of your target market where they live, which is increasingly on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a personal favorite of mine, LinkedIn.
How You Will Know That You are there When Driving to Social Media Success
So delaying your foray into Social Media waiting for the perfect metrics for measuring success and ROI is not the best option. However, understanding your business drivers which should shape your social media strategy and tactics is critical to success. Once you have these, you are ready to begin driving to social media success, and better yet, how you will know when you get there.