Diagnosis: ‘Field of Dreams’ Delusions About Social Media

Social media campaigns should never exist just on their own.

Social media is this brand new thing — that shiny object that every executive seems to wants to use. Gleaming on the horizon like the Emerald City, showing potential and, well, this false sense of what I’ve called the “Field of Dreams” delusion:

Build it and they will comeBuild It and They Will Come.

The “they” might be dollars, customers or just brand devotees. But nonetheless, there’s this sense that social media is a magical elixir, a silver bullet, a solution to all our problems. And so social media is segmented off into this secreted place at companies and expected to produce immediate results.

You might be the social media person who provided feedback and your measurements only to find the executive dissatisfied because he or she is looking at the bottom line. Or you might be the executive who’s just looked at a report from the social media person on staff who shows glowing results only to notice that revenue didn’t budge one iota since you started investing in social media.

This here is the problem: Social media campaigns should never stand alone. Social media is a multiplier, an enhancer. It is the spice added to other campaigns. It is the ongoing element of your business.

Some social media professionals will disagree with this, I am sure. This is a bit of a controversial answer. But it is the right answer, an honest answer. I write about this in a recent blog entry, Five Myths About Social Media. By the way, those myths are as follows:[ordered_list style=”decimal”]

  1. Social media offers an extensive track record. No, it doesn’t. Social media in business and marketing is only about three years old, at most. Facebook came into business consciousness in 2009 but some early adopters started in 2008.
  2. There are social media experts. No, there cannot be. See myth #1. If the definition of [wiki]expert[/wiki] is correct, we need more time for experts to gain the knowledge and experience needed. Three years isn’t even enough time to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  3. Social media should be segmented. Basically, social media is a two-way communication structure while everything else in professional Marketing-Communication is one way.
  4. Anyone can do social media. While there are no “experts,” there are experienced professionals. However your choice should be based on professionals who actually engage. Ask the right questions.
  5. Social media should be ignored until maturity. Social media is more popular than porn, more visited than Google and more used than e-mail. You cannot afford to wait.

[/ordered_list]So after all this, how do you measure it?

Social media will get credited for the “assist,” like in some sports. Social media drives people to the ignition point, conversion point or tipping point:[unordered_list style=”star”]

  • Ignition point: Drives the initial engagement with a brand, company or product.
  • Conversion point: Turns the consumer from a casual browser into a serious shopper.
  • Tipping point: Pushes the shopper over the edge during the engagement into the purchase.

[/unordered_list]Using those “assists” seems to help in measurements. Don’t skip measuring social media. Ultimately, someone will want a measurement and that is not how many people follow, friend or fan. It’s a financial gain. It’s if the social media program went away tomorrow, how much the company would lose.

This is extraordinarily important because one day, the delusion will fall away and the executive will realize that social media didn’t bring all that hype and promise that he’d heard. He will likely be irritated, wondering where all that money and new customers are. If you read the Twitter exchange at the beginning of Five Myths, that’s what you’re hearing. Just one example:

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” icon=”http://michaelcheek.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/twitter-icon-24.png”]minethatdata

@minethatdata Kevin Hillstrom

I’m not asking for that. I’m asking a social media experts to grow sales from $100,000 a day to $105,000 a day. I think that is an unfair request. Prove your craft is worthy of 5 percent. After two years, if sales increased by a total of 5 percent, you win.

[/box]

By tracking the assists, you’re able to begin justifying your job, thereby saving it. And that’s not a dream. That’s reality.

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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at http://MichaelCheek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/MichaelCheek and see more about his professional experience at http://LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCheek. Reach him via e-mail at mcheek@gmail.com.

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