I had an interesting scenario this past week where a sharp EVP from a known marketing research firm called me out on some social implementation I was executing. He questioned why and how I was using a particular social channel for execution. He went on to tell me that his company had data that revealed I was making a huge mistake.
Let me state from the start, I respect this person and his company and I use their information to help set some of the social strategies and implementations I work on. I am data driven and I actively seek studies and reports on social media from many sources on a daily bases. (You already know that … you see my tweets. :)) But I think every social media study, report, and survey should have an asterisk on it that states “proceed with caution.” At the end of the day, the most important data is the data you collect from your own social implementations. Industry reports and surveys are a good starting place, but they lack the relevancy of your own empirical results.
Let me give you an analogy …. If I asked the question, how do you make people happy, the correct answer would vary greatly based on who you are, who they (the other people) are, and the relationship that you have with them. And the same is true with social media and the effectiveness of your interactions to accomplish the set, and objectives you have defined … it depends on the brand you represent, the audience you talk to, and the relationship between brand and consumer.
So how does one ensure that they are knowledge rich with the data they collect on their social activities? It starts by knowing what you seek to achieve. So with total transparency, let’s use me as an example. I maintain a social media blog and a presence in various channels as “Social Steve” to share social media strategies and best practices. I do this to gain the reputation as a social media thought leader. No hidden agenda. Based on that objective, I have selected certain social media channels to participate in, and I look at metrics in each of these channels such as views of my content, comments, followings, mentions, referrals, sign ups, reposts, and retweets. I look at this data as it relates to the categories of measurement that I have previously mentioned – awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. The way I measure awareness versus advocacy is going to be considerably different. As I look to build relationships with a target market, there will be different tactics implemented based on different psycho-demographics within the audience.
This approach and resulting data gives me knowledge with regards to what social channels, what type, style, and tone of content, and timing of distribution work best. My plan (personally and with the clients I work with) starts with my experiences over the years coupled with the guidance I gain from numerous reports, studies, and lessons learned from others in the social space. But that does not produce ultimate success. The ultimate success comes from having a good plan to start, running with it, looking at results as they relate to your objectives, and then making modifications to drive better results. This is a continuous cycle because constantly looking at your data and understanding the cause-effect of what you are executing produces a richness of knowledge. THIS IS THE FORMULA FOR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS.
The knowledge I have acquired comes from many years of experience in a broad array of marketing disciplines and a handful of years producing, implementing and measuring social media strategies. I have stated this many times … social media is a long term commitment that produces great long term results. In order to be knowledge rich, you must consistently evaluate data. If you want to realize social media success, you must use the appropriate data and take calculated risks. There are no “give-mes” here.
Make It Happen!