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  1. There is a growing concern among brands who would like to engage in social media as a tool for reaching out to customers and prospective customers. They want to know how to measure the success of their involvement in social media.

     


    Photo credit: ceneal1 from morguefile.com

    There are also the “EXPERTS” who complicates matters, by not helping business owners know exactly what social media is.

    While working with some Small businesses here in Nigeria, I often get response that shows that more businesses do not have details on what kind of tool social media is. That is the reason I am writing this post. I would be exposing some gray areas of social media as a marketing tool as well as why you should beware of those parading themselves as social media experts. Come with me as I share with you.

    It is ONLY a TOOL


    Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

    Social media as a tool for marketing has not changed the principles of marketing, branding, customer service, public relations and customer relationship management. However, social media can become an effective tool. If understood, it can be used in lowering marketing budget while tapping into ever vibrant social web.

    Proficiency in the use of social media tools and services does not guarantee the success of a brand. I have read of how some companies, look for and recruit young ones as interns and allow them to be in charge of the company’s social media marketing. If those in charge of the company’s social media marketing do not have competency in customer care, relationship management, marketing, PR or other necessary skills, how then can they make a success at it?

    Getting a hang of Social Media

    Social media as a marketing tool is an emerging discipline. There is still much more than needs to be tested, learned and perfected.

    I decided to allow this post to mature. (this part am inserting this morning) I got some more insight about this post while on twitter yesterday evening. Social media can provide enough insight for you too, but you have to first define what it is you want to get insight about, and the value of what you are getting as well as it’s relevance to your business. A very good friend of mine Damilare Akinlaja Joshua tweeted;

    “It [Social Media] is a SCIENCE that is yet documented. No REAL PRINCIPLES, only HYPOTHESIS that might fade due to the VAST CHANGE IN WEB TRENDS”

     

    Take for example the issue of measurement. How does a business measure their success in using social media as a marketing tool? This is one of the reasons why so many brands and businesses are not ready to invest in social media. They wonder, how do I measure my success? (Often called ROI – Return On Investment)

    There are so many people parading themselves as Social Media experts/guru/ninja/jedi and so on. they have been nick named by some as CLOWN, as most of them know nothing about marketing using social media as a tool. In a foreword written by Brian Solis to a book on ROI, he explained a few things about how and what of ROI in social media, here is what he used to open the post;

    “I’m often asked, what’s the ROI of social media? To which I answer, you can’t measure what it is you do not value or know to value… The truth is that you cannot succeed in anything if success is never defined. The good news is that success is definable and attainable. It just takes a little work…well, honestly, A LOT OF WORK to tie intended outcomes to the “R” (return) in ROI.”

    If you read him well, he made it clear, even as a thought leader that the social media discipline as a marketing tool is still E-L-U-S-I-V-E. Now you see why you should suspect anyone who comes to you parading himself as an expert in social media, do you? How obvious this fact is to Damilare my friend. It’s Sad, today many brands (including startups) who intends to use social media in their business do not know this one fact, so they end up being PUNKED. what a PITY.

    Still on ROI, Pam says, you need to eat ROI as breakfast. Stating that there are MEASURABLE variables that you should set your eyes on.  You decide what you want to measure and why it is important to measure it.

    For example. If you are into Property business. You might want to use social media to generate insight or take a poll. You can use Facebook questions, or just interact with folks on your Facebook page. It may be in form of a question to your twitter followers. You can set up a controlled experiment, test and re-test tools and adapt the to suit your need.

    These are the reason why social media experts are C>L>O>W>N>S. The thought leaders and those helping organizations deploy social media do not call themselves EXPERTS. They Don’t. beware.

    Also Harvard Business Review online published a report of a survey they carried out. It provided some background and proof to what I am sharing with you here;

    “Given this difficulty in understanding the opportunities social media offers and the lack of clarity in its perceived benefits, most firms now prefer a strategy of controlled experimentation. As one executive put it, "Social media is a big ocean and we are pulling in a little bay where we are most protected." The majority of these efforts (50%) are geared towards increasing awareness of the organization or brand.”

    This statement is made by organizations that are already producing measurable results with the use of social media as a business building tool.

    when you see offers like the one below be careful;

    19 ways to get 2,000 twitter followers in one hour.

    Get 10,000 Facebook likes in one day.

    The number of followers or likes you have do not translate into any MEASURABLE ACTION. The word there is Measurable Action. Sometimes, it may include you asking your customers how they heard about you. There is work to be done, be ready for it. Do the work or go home do your home work and be ready before you come on board.

    Should you use social media marketing?

    The question should be answered by the type of service or product you offer and your target market. It is better for a fish farmer to fish in the river than go to the Fields. Some are focusing on twitter, while the bulk of their customers are on Linkedin or Facebook or even offline only using basic SMS feature on their mobile. It is important to think Global, but do not ignore the CONTEXT of your market.

    You are in a better position to do it yourself. You can make use of some training from those who know how the social media tools work, however, it rests on you to fine-tune your strategy and figure out what would work best for you. (Like split-testing)

    You have to invest some time for you to start to see success. Don’t expect success too soon.

    It is an ever growing discipline. Get involved and keep learning. However, do not do it at the expense of your business.

    What challenges have you faced in using social media as a tool for your business or startup?

    what would you do differently after reading this post?

    I would love to read your views in the comment area below. Let’s share together. After all, IT’S SOCIAL, be SOCIAL

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