“Am I doing the right thing?” most agents involved in social media ask. This blog intends to offer a reflection on where and how to ground benchmarks for an organization or brand. It’s not a one size fits all approach. A few weeks ago, Sergio Balegno from MarketingSherpa was engaged in an interesting conversation about benchmarks and things on LinkedIn that I would like to expand on here. As inevitable as social media is, decision makers still have to justify their new and growing investments in social media.
I preface this post by saying that some brands have entered social media with “cool equity” giving them an advantage but not necessarily maximizing their community potential. It’s easy to under-serve the community and having a high number of fans does not a supportive community make.
I would love to hear your thoughts or if I should add other ones (I’ll update my post):
- Mashing up Social media goals: Entering the social media house can be done via many doors. Of course we all want to generate leads but ‘marketing in your customers’ face’ (or prospects’) is sustainable for only so long. The receiver chooses, not the sender. Are you here to sell stuff or build brand equity and mind share? Are you brand building? Promotion? Customer service? Do you want to demonstrate thought leadership? If your ‘Brand stream’ is varied, it’ll be more trusted and more referred to.
- Content quality, engagement and effectiveness: I tend to say that blogging is the mothership of social media. Some people may argue that it’s too hard or difficult to maintain a blog or that blogging is going down ‘cos tweeting is replacing it all. Brian Solis thinks it’s largely exaggerated. I am convinced that when a prospect shows up, a good blog will make the difference, especially if you are in a competitive environment. Social media brochures are an assured fail. People want brands that inform, according to eMarketer.com. Content & conversation might be king and queen, the underlying fact is that internet users are a hungry mob on the hunt for relevant information and Google is working for them (the user). Viewers are moving away from traditional media for a simple reason– they can’t find enough relevant information. Study how to be relevant.
- Influence & dissemination: Influence is tribal; communities are led by subsets of people who are more tribal. They tend to know each other, refer to each others’ work. Go to conferences to meet with each other. Having a Twitter account, or a Facebook page will soon be like having a nose on your face. It’s time to move on. Dissemination is what we are looking for: why should your customers carry & share your voice and engage? Are you working on identifying who is your tribe on the networks (customers that is)?
- Activation: Brand activation or community activation is better if social media is community supported. Brands aren’t all born equal (not every brand has the cool factor) but if a brand is in business, they already add value and activating a community should take different angles. If your brand is boring or your subjects are IP protected, make a lateral move and focus and look for common themes in your client’s interest. Activation is grounded in what I call the CUTE factor.
- Authenticity: Say no to clogging (the art of blogging for keywords, fishing or pushing inward focused content). Blogging may move to more real time and condensed versions but blogging is like your face. Looking like a robot may appeal to the least majority. Auto DM or auto anything suck. I often observe that the “About Us” page of a website is a very well trafficked area…yep, people are checking you out. The “About Us” page is the precursor to the ‘social’ part of media.
- Social media market share / mind share: It’s easy to fall asleep on your brand’s current success like some well developed brands. I would invite you to play with an excel spreadsheet and simply add your competitors’ brand names followed by another column with how many fans each of them have. You could also start tracking respective brand mentions and interaction. This way you find out the level of SM Mindshare out there.
- Metrics: I was giving a presentation a couple of weeks ago here in Colorado and 50% of the audience didn’t know or didn’t have Google Analytics installed on their website (small- med size businesses). You can improve what you can measure. Great tools like Bit.ly, Topsy.com, Tweetmeme work great. Our practice tracks everything…we can.
- Top revenue line and reduction in marketing / sales costs: Revenue can be noticeable even though it’ll depend on your business model. If you sell direct and online, it’s easier. Business size matters as well. As of June, Dell was generating above $2 million via Twitter. There are some great examples of cost reductions like those mentioned in the latest Groundswell awards. Comcast Care and Cisco are prime examples but they are huge so of course, things are magnified.
- Lurking and reach: The groundswell yearly study shows us that the number one activity on the internet is to spectate. Lurking and reading still counts when measuring success. If I tweet something, 30-60 people may click on it, but for example the 5 Big Fat Social Media Trends blog a couple of weeks ago was Tweeted 650 times…. people are watching. They may not act or say something immediately, but quality stays in their minds.
- Sentiment analysis: If you have the means, Radian6, Collective Intellect or Network Insights maybe the right way to go. You also can use other less expensive tools like OneRiot, Filtrbox… to understand if your brand should pay attention to the sentiment of influencers on Twitter or blogs. Lot’s of people say lot’s of things…. If Chris Brogan says something about dining, he probably will have less influence than David Lebovitz for obvious reasons. Be where the discussion occurs.
Have I covered your bases? Do you feel that Social Media is going to have hard benchmarks only or there is a balance between soft and hard benchmarks?