Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Do Social Media" = "Collect Underpants"

The hype around social media just seems to be growing. But as the initial glow of this new medium wears off, it's going to be up to us to prove the ROI of social media. (Thanks to Steve Mann for showing me some great case studies about smart companies who are doing it right). But the trick is finding the formula that clicks for each individual company. There is no "one size fits all**" when it comes to social media - you need to tailor the solution to your particular needs. This is not an easy task and it's not easy to demonstrate ROI while you are formulating and executing your strategy.

Have fortitude, my social media kindred. Refuse to let your stakeholders consider number of HITS a metric (they are "How Idiots Track Success," according to K.D. Paine). Help them understand the real social media metrics like buzz volume, buzz sentiment and engagement (Mike Manuel, social media genius, can teach you more about metrics). But at the same time, realize that as cool as it is to show how many followers you have on Twitter, how many fans you have on Facebook, and how much buzz you're generating, at the end of the day, the people who write your paycheck will want to see the impact to the bottom line.

**Speaking of one size fits all...

The daily influx of invites to Webinars and conferences promising to show me the Holy Grail of Social Media Success remind me of the South Park episode about the "Underpants Gnomes" that are stealing Tweek's underwear. One of my favorite South Park moments is the Gnomes' business plan:

We all get the endless invitations to paid Webinars claiming to teach us how Social Media will make us successful. The truth they don't want you to know is that nobody can give you the magic formula to "do social media." STOP WASTING YOUR MONEY. You just need to figure out how to listen to what people are saying about you, and then how to join the conversation. Yes, there are lots of ways to do this, and it's not always easy to figure out which way is the right way. It takes some time and effort. There is no quick fix or easy salvation -- if anyone suggests you do a "viral video" run the other way - FAST! With all the tools and technologies out there, the task is daunting. But if you go for the quick fix, you may as well use this as your business plan: