Sunday, August 7, 2011

Success with social media and a sceptical boss

Measuring the success of your social media plan depends on what your goals are. You must ask yourself what are you looking out of this strategy and what is realistically obtainable. Researching your market beforehand will bring clarity to your quest and will help bat off awkward questions from the board. As a relatively new concept, success with social media is difficult to measure as it is not about direct sales and success stories are still breaking, but it is not the standard “push strategy” industry norm for most companies. Social media strategies are a great complement to the standard marketing avenues and should be looked at in this light.

To increase your network of contacts to target potential customers?
To find the influencers in a community and get them into meaningful engagement?
To change the perception of your brand?
To be proactive with customer service?
To improve the contact with your customers?
To give a personal touch to the corporate brand?

These are all legitimate goals but unless you have a metrics in place to track your progress, how do you know that you have succeeded? You may feel you have done a good job but how do you explain to your bosses that you are forming long lasting ties with the movers and shakers in the industry and that their investment in your time and resources is worth the expense and deserves an increase in budget?

In most companies there is a generation gap between the guys at the top (who control the purse-strings) and the marketing guys who are advocating a social media plan. They may allow their prejudices get in the way of solid market fact; so give them what they will understand, present your metrics in a structured way. So start with the obvious and go with the number of Twitter followers; Facebook friends, or likes if you have a corporate page; viewers if you have a YouTube channel. For measuring your blog, use Google Feedburner to see the number of subscribers, views, comments etc. (There are a myriad of tools available online to get detailed statistics for each service such as TweetStats, Facebook Friends Wheel, Google Analytics; it depends on how much detail you want to go into.) Decision makers will see that your efforts have not been in vain as they observe month by month growth, brand awareness and presence. These reports can then be used to validate their investment in the social media initiative. However, (keep this to yourself) you must be cautious on relying on volume of users and fans etc as using this form of metrics alone will not give you any meaningful insight to your business. Target the increase you would expect from these mediums over a 6 month period and report the figures to management.

The use of search facilities on blogs and Twitter can highlight mentions of your brand name which can be used to track the increase or decrease in the number of people talking about your brand or product. You can also use sentiment measuring tools such as Twendz to watch change in satisfaction with your brand or organisation.

20 Constructive Social Media Tools

Move on from the concrete statistics and identify from the content recieved through your social media pages areas how social media has increased customer interaction, sentiment, influence, and/or perception. The information received is priceless and you will stand to gain invaluable information on how your market works and the wealth of untapped knowledge that is out there.

It is important to show that there is a conversation out there for your product and that managed correctly, with time and resources, it can gave a massive impact on your companies image, reputation and bottom line. People buy people and not faceless corporations and in social media they really need to feel that this is the case. Humans are social animals, it’s in our nature to converse; this is the start of something big, advise your bosses now before they miss the boat.

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