The worst word in Social Media is "media"
June 19, 2012
Because it doesn't cost anything to create accounts on the various social touch points that brands have at their disposal these days, maybe that's the reason many people have this "jump right in, it's easy to do" misconception about social media.
With no established direction and communication strategy – not even a unified theory internally - they just dive in with all kinds of random acts of social, not even knowing the metrics that matter that might help them gauge their efforts.
But, contrary to popular belief (and behavior on these social sites,) free does not mean easy. If social is even going to work for you with some measurement and understanding of what ROI means in this space, it takes dedicated, carved out time to create a cohesive vision, brute effort and strategic fundamentals to prosper on these platforms.
Here at the friendly confines known as Jacobs Media, Fred, Paul, and I talk openly about the dangers that lie within traditional thinking, and the deficiencies that some brands have (maybe unknowingly) about the social and digital space. And just the other day, Paul said something that really hit home.
He said, "The worst word in Social Media is 'media.' And he's right.
It's as if the word "media" supports the old-line thought process that is powered by where you've been and what you've done – not where you can go and what you can do.
With traditional media, you don't hear the same dreaded debates over "ROI" from broadcasters about direct mail, billboards, or yes, radio even though you can't prove to a car dealership that was talked into buying 18 spots instead of just a dozen that they had a greater return on their investment. And nowhere has there been proof that a slick, pricey direct mail piece or billboard increased ratings and revenue.
No traditional marketing channel can tell you which of your ads moved people to listen more, engage more, or buy more. What's interesting is that while traditional media offers reach based on estimates, (when used properly) social and digital actually offer reach based on real numbers.
Social efforts can be measured in a multitude of ways, including conversion rates, the content fans consume most, time spent with you, open rates, your brand's performance with developing motivated relationships, and the composition of your database.
But that's never really discussed.
People favor wasting time debating social media's ROI rather than spending that same amount of time considering the opportunities right in front of them. When you align your needs with what fans want on these social and digital channels, you can create moments (and maybe even movements) with your fans.
Where else do you get to hear for no real hard cost what fans say about you around the clock? Where else can you serve the needs of your fans immediately, building on the trust and permission to be part of their everyday social experience? Where else can you speak to the passion of your fans every day and get them so motivated that they elevate and spread your messages?
In reality, social media success has little to do with the word "media" or reach based on estimates. Success is not about "likes" or how much a follower is worth.
When done right, social media success is about the exposure your fans give your brand when they share your content and talk about you, it's in the influence your fans are willing to use in their "social circles" about you, and it's in the increased usage that this added exposure and influence creates, along with the authentic and direct dialogue you offer fans socially.
So, in business terms, the "ROI of social media" is that you're squeezing out more value from your fans for the lifetime of the brand. If that's not enough, then maybe you shouldn't use social media. Nobody is saying you have to be there.
But you reap what you sow, and you can't reap loyalty if you don't (socially) invest in your fans.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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