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Social Media is Measured by the Sum of Its Parts

Social Media is greater than the sum of its parts, but it is these parts that define the socialization of business. Today consumers are interacting with peers, brands, and influencers in social networks at varying levels across more industries than you might possibly believe. The answers of who, what, when, where, how, and to what extent are out there; we just need to spend a moment searching for the insights necessary to galvanize meaningful social media content, branding, and engagement programs.

Instead of creating holistic programs that embrace social consumers through the distinct business channels that affect their decisions and experiences, we rush to networks to create a presence, one that may not fortify or represent the brand as well as we might think.

Hurry! Get a profile on Twitter, set up a brand page on Facebook. Let’s go go go!

While it may seem commonsensical or more importantly logical to create a strategy for social networks based on research, data, and perception, a recent study shed light on some interesting facts.

A May 2010 study by Digital Brand Expressions found that 52% of social marketers are running social media programs without a defined “game plan.” This finding is in line with an April report by R2Integrated that documented one-half of marketers were reacting to social rather than leading it.

Visibility is not the same as presence. In social media, presence is felt.

The Ingredients of Social Media Communications Plans

The Digital Brand Expressions report found that those who are approaching social media with a plan find that needs, concerns, and outcomes outweigh the current scope of activities. The study found that logistics contributed to visibility, but insight was absent from investing in presence. Most notably, resource allocation guidelines, registration of branded usernames in social networks and competitive research were among the top ingredients of a social marketing plan. Other tactical elements include:

71% establish metrics to measure ROI, which is in direct contrast with a previous study by Mzinga that found that over 80% of companies were not measuring ROI.

52% plan for ongoing monitoring

45% develop social media protocols and policies

39% create and distribute guidelines for professional and personal social media use

At the bottom of the list, we see that only 29% of businesses are introducing protocols and policies for the usage of social media by specific departments. As this is the socialization of business, multiple divisions will embrace social media at any one moment, from sales to service to HR to sales and marketing and everything in between. Social media indeed reveals the true 360-degree opportunity. The social consumer is many things to brands now and over time. And, to expect one representative or facet of business to track and engage with influential individuals in active and expansive networks is narrowing.

The question as to who owns social media is universal. Ownership begins within the team where social media championship is concentrated. As experience matures, social media extends and in many cases, “socializes” each sector. At the moment however, a land grab is in full effect with marketing taking the lead as the area responsible for the creation and management of social media plans. In fact 71% of respondents stated such with communications representing 29% , the executive team accounting for 16% and sales and IT tied with 10%.

The Last Mile Begins with the First Mile

In a recent post, I discussed the concept of The Last Mile and how social media would force businesses to adapt current practices to open-up traditional top-down methodologies by expanding engagement and interactive communications and feedback loops.

As previously stated, “Everything begins with a shift in perspective from viewing stakeholders as a separate entity, ‘us vs. them,’ to a singular view of ‘us ‘ as this enlivens a new era of community-focused marketing and engagement.”

The need for a new approach is inspired by the disconnect that exists not only between brands and social consumers, but also between the brand, management, and brand representatives in these emerging channels.

The socialization of business is forged in the last mile, but it is the first mile where strategy, planning, and the internal evolution of management and processes that inspires relevance and ultimately resonance.

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158 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Social Media is Measured by the Sum of Its Parts”

  1. Scot Wheeler says:

    Hi Brian, I am liking the “first mile/last mile” strategy. I'm reminded of a quote I saw somewhere recently, “the quicker something is put together, the quicker it falls apart”.

    With this post, I was very intrigued by the challenge for great measurement that you outlined in the first paragraph, that social media is more than the sum of its parts, but is measured by its parts.” You give a very good summary then as to what the parts should be, and how they should ideally be made to fit, but leave open the question, how will we measure the “more” in the “more than the sum of its parts”? Do you think there's a good answer out there for this right now?

  2. Akash Sharma says:

    Hi Brian, Again an uber-practical insight, getting a chunk of social media measurement always seems to be an expert thing, but it isn't if we follow some simple policies and optimize social media usage with info collecting technology at the receiving end. As you say focusing on what & why to do is important rather than where to do, as the latter is an outcome of proper planning.

  3. A plan is a must. Get one AND start today.

    What everyone should start regardless of how far you've gotten into the plan is a commitment to LISTEN. The market is talking now, not waiting for you to decide whether to “get into social media”.

    First things first. tell your people to “listen and love” … pay attention to what your customers and the market is saying about you and respond like you would if your friend called your office.

    This is just the start. You'll do much better once you implement on strategy. In the mean time, listen and love

  4. this last chart is not good people. why? Because the life expectancy of the average CMO is 18 months. Gulp. Social media needs less gimmicks and more efficiencies which is what helped bring the web along as a 'Standard Operating Procedure' in the 90s

    Seth Godin would say the operative word in my comment is “operative” ok Mr. G I give you that one. So my comment above likely best applies to the less than remarkable among us. : )

    • I agree, less gimmicks. So many people and businesses for that matter are already on the fence about social media. Sure I can explain the value, but when they see gimmicks and others operating without a plan, they tend not to trust it. And the companies not using a social media strategy themselves probably have higher ups who don't trust it either.

  5. Serdarbera says:

    engage in turkish… coming soon

  6. danielklotz says:

    Brian, can you clarify the meaning of this sentence?: “The study found that logistics contributed to visibility, but insight was absent from investing in presence.”

    • briansolis says:

      Hi Daniel, yes…mechanical actions, tactics, and steps were followed to create social profiles in order to “participate” in the conversation. However, the answers to questions such as why, what value do we add, what do we hope to accomplish, etc. were not necessarily factored in to initial strategies.

  7. This study makes me nervous. How can business not have a strategy? Even an informal strategy is better than no strategy at all. It's a waste of time and money (compensation) to be involved in social media without some sort of goal and strategy in place,much less a metric system.

  8. Its really hard to digest outcome of referred report “52% of social marketers are running social media programs without a defined “game plan.””. It talks about the inability of the decision maker who is giving a go ahead. It is even more alarming in the times where everyone is cautious about cost and it's returns. Unless its a trial and error or spray and pray strategy which people are applying to check out its returns. Would love to work with such decision makers ;), but, where are they – I haven't come across any.
    Completely resonate with the first mile approach where you talk about internal evolution of management and processes. During one meeting the prospect sought help to drive an internal strategy first and then build a plan to build a community for end customer.

  9. The chance of getting easily popular or say bringing maximum exposure by social media is the basic source of alluring this vast business. As we know something going crazy would never sustain,the same thing is happeneing here. Nothing wonder when certain stats like the above raises to show the exactness of the standards followed by the businesses.

  10. While social media gets the attention, it seems its part of online or personal branding.

  11. Cyber Jack says:

    True is that only half of social marketers are running social media programs without strategy.

  12. This study makes me nervous. How can business not have a strategy? Even an informal strategy is better than no strategy at all.

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