Most people don’t get social media. Social Media marketing is about relationships first, selling second.
It’s a tough nugget to swallow, especially when the pressure from the c-suite is asking for the ROI. Social media is not just a bolt-on tool or marketing channel with tried-and-true metrics. It is fundamentally re-defining the relationships between consumers and brands. Social media integrates PR, customer service, human resources and marketing into the digital space. The social presence defines the brand–whether you choose to believe that or not.
Most organizations struggle with this concept because they don’t know what Social success looks like. (I have sat in a long list of boardrooms and witnessed many interested organizations be led astray by the misinformed marketer who is in the business of inventing business—for themselves.) This is the unfortunate validation of vanity metrics that perpetuates the meme.
Focusing on vanity metrics (numbers of fans, followers, likes, etc.) is the quickest way to watch any social media program tank before it even grows legs. I’m not suggesting that they should be ignored, but they don’t represent reality and can easily mislead a brand in gauging meaningful performances in these channels.
The number of ‘followers’ you have does not make you better than anyone else. Hitler had millions, and Jesus had 12.
Focus instead on actionable metrics such as engagement and share of voice, which are currently the two major trending metrics for measuring success in social media. Determine your piece of the total conversation pie and set realistic benchmarks to increase that percentage. Track and measure that growth. And then do the same for your competitors. You can’t control what you don’t measure, and you can’t measure what you don’t understand.
When you prioritize the wrong measurement tactics, you’ll get poor results and squander your resources all because you’re either a) reaching for a recipe that doesn’t match up to your business objectives, b) getting bad advice from a social media “expert” or c) you’re trying to impress your boss.
Cultivating a loyal, quality audience who opt-in is much more effective than pushing strict marketing objectives in a ‘spray and pray’ philosophy. You may have initial success with numbers, but the program will not be sustainable. Invite Social Media into all corners of your business and build a strategic plan from the inside-out. Be realistic, be honest, and set social and digital goals that you can measure.