Monday, April 09, 2012

Do Busy Professionals Have Time for Social Media?

Most will tell you it’s a ‘must do’, but tweeting and posting is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re not carefully planning, adjusting and measuring the right things, then you’re just adding to the noise and making yourselves look worse

Chief Marketer’s recent survey of CMOs found that friends, followers, likes, shares forwards and retweets are still the most popular social media metrics. Why? Because they’re easy to measure. But, as Internet Marketing Report (IMR) revealed in today’s print edition, these easy metrics (we call ‘em McMetrics here at HB) just tell you how wide your reach is. IMR said leads and sales are far more accurate indicators of ROI. For instance, 60 percent of CMOs surveyed said they looked toward “friends, followers and likes” as indicators to measure social media success, but only 35 percent said they monitored qualified leads from social media and only 25 percent measured sales attributed to their social media platforms.

Communicating in a microwave society

And that’s a challenge, because technology is changing so fast. We’re so busy trying to keep up with technology that we’re not really becoming more effective communicators—let alone brand builders or reputation enhancers. “Our culture moves at warp speed, no question, the weekly or even daily news cycle long since replaced by an up-to-the-second Twitter feed of Facebook update,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Richard Hoffer last week. “We said goodbye to thoughtful consideration the day we moved over to microwave popcorn.”

Fortunately Google Analytics and others will soon enable users to track how well their social media efforts are paying off in real e-commerce dollar terms. Disclosure: Our firm has no commercial ties or partnerships with Google.

Companies that enable the e-commerce tracking feature on their free version of Google Analytics will soon be able to produce a “social value report” that shows conversions or sales that came directly from visitors to your social media site and “assisted conversions” that come within a set interval (say 30 days) of when a visitor interacted with one of your social media pages.

As Hugh Duffy, head of a practice development firm for CPAs noted on his blog last week, time is one of the biggest resource investments you have to consider when embarking on a social media strategy. Citing research from my good friend, Rick Telberg, of Bay Street Group Research Duffy noted there’s a strong correlation between high performance and technology adoption at firms.

To do it well, it will take up a great deal of your organization’s time and energy to launch it, maintain it and perfect it. But will it bring you more business? And how long do you keep trying until you know whether or not you’ll be successful at developing a meaningful and profitable online presence?

Only you and your colleagues can be the judge? But before you start throwing stuff on the wall to see what will stick, you must have a clear timeline, clear assignment of responsibilities and clearly defined success metrics that everyone can buy into. That way you’ll know when it’s time to ramp up or clean up the mess, if it’s just not working out.

Your clients and stakeholders are depending on you. They’ll respect you for trying new ways to reach them. And they’ll respect you even more for not throwing good money (and time) after bad when it becomes apparent that some of your social experiments may not be their cup of tea.


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