Social Media: Slow And Steady vs. Fast And Shiny


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 Slow And Steady vs. Fast And ShinySocial media is undeniably a part of a business strategy for many businesses. Its affects every part of the customer experience: from support, to educational materials, to interactive experiences, to community participation and support. One of the questions on everyone’s mind is how to measure social media and its results and ROI. There are many metrics and approaches you can use, which will depend on what your goals are (you can refer to the primer on monitoring and measurement I wrote). Before you go any further in your social media endeavors, you need to differentiate between two different buckets of social media goals.

Goal #1: Daily engagement: This is the “slow and steady” use of social media for the benefit of connecting with your customers, prospects, thought leaders and the rest of industry. This is the unglamorous, consistent act of being there, being helpful, being involved. When a customer tweets you for help, you work with them to resolve the problem. When a blogger expresses dissatisfaction with your product, you get to do the nerve-racking and very necessary job of reaching out, probing and figuring out the issue, and remedying the problem. The above engagement can happen in a public forum, such as in blog comments, as well as in a private forum like direct messages on Twitter and other social networks, as well as more traditional methods of email and phone. Daily engagement is where the social media rubber meets the road. Daily engagement is the equivalent of “grinding it out, one tweet at a time. It’s the ability to face the good, the bad and the ugly, with a smile on your face, simultaneously being a champion of your community and your brand. This is not glamorous; this is real life. It’s meeting the expectations of your customers, prospects and partners, when they expect you to be there and be available.

Let’s talk about ROI of this. For ROI to be present, you need to have a monetary result (return) on some kind of monetary input (investment). Even though social media is free as a channel, doing social media is not free. It takes time; especially this kind of “feet on the street” engagement. You are converting people into champions, one excellent communication at a time. You are expanding your network based on the value of the education you have given them. It can take years, but it’s well worth it, because customers who find you this way, will stay with you (just keep your customer experience consistent and be clear what the customer will get out of this relationship). They didn’t buy because of a price promotion, they bought because they believe that you value them, appreciate their business problems and know you are willing to work with them to solve their problems.

Social media is public, so each excellent interaction has the potential to be seen by everyone. How do you measure this halo effect of being perceived as a helpful brand that’s truly invested in their customers’ success? Conversely, what is the cost of not engaging? I do not yet know that, but I suspect it’s pretty steep; if you have studies pointing to this, please let me know. Both are tough to measure, as is the return on having email and phone. Some of the things you can measure, however, are increases in customer service success metrics (such as % of inquiries answered, average response time, etc.), as compared to decreases in costs.

Goal #2: Social Media Campaigns

For a successful social media practice, you need to create a solid foundation first. You should be striving for Goal #1 at all times. You need to be there, answering, engaging, commiserating, empathizing, and all of that good stuff, on a daily basis. At times, though, you will need to do something creative, something that raises the bar a little bit and gives your brand awareness a shot of adrenaline. Think of the Old Spice man, and think of your name in lights. Now stop daydreaming. That kind of social media stardom is very tough to achieve. Most companies go wrong by setting out to create a viral video / campaign instead of thinking about the underlying value they are providing to their constituents. Oh yeah, and the value has to be something that they actually need and / or want. The reality is, if your content is buzzworthy and aligned with what your potential clients actually care about, it will go about as viral as you need it to. If you sell to enterprise clients, you probably don’t need to out-viral a consumer-facing business, which will be more viral just by virtue of what they do.

Your ROI is going to be very different when measuring effects of a campaign. I created a little video here talking about some of the ways to measure its effectiveness. But don’t take my word for it. Figure out what’s important to you, and measure against those objectives. If your outputs are results that are equal or better than what you planned for, you did well. What you are looking for is the level of buzz, social media brand lift, sustainability of this buzz amongst the right kinds of people, and eventually resulting in a transaction.

Both types of social media engagements and investments are important, yet fundamentally important. What do you think? How do you measure your social media activities?

Photo credit: Patrick Q

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maria Ogneva
I'm the Head of Community for Yammer, the enterprise social network used by 100,000 organizations, including more than 80% of the Fortune 500. At Yammer, she is in charge of social media and community programs, fostering internal and external education and engagement. You can follow her on Twitter at @themaria or on her blog, and Yammer at @yammer and company blog.


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