First, let’s agree that social media is emerging. Agreed. At OffWhite we’ve embraced social media the same way we embrace pencils, paper clips, laptops and our ever-present iPads. They’re tools, no more and no less. The folks at the Marketing Leadership Council nailed it pretty well when they reported from a social media conference this month the experiences of senior managers throughout a diverse set of industries, all with different levels of – what shall we say – social maturity? When the dust settled, they walked away with a better definition of two common problems facing marketing managers today.
The first shoe: My boss wants us on Twitter. How do I do it?
The better question is “why”? Twitter, Facebook and all the others, without context and integration, offer no future as free radicals floating around in the weekly management meeting. Social media is not a strategy; it’s a tactic – a tool – no more, no less. And it doesn’t work alone. These new media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and the next thing tomorrow are the contemporary expressions of things we saw yesterday. Phone, fax, fax-on-demand, email, toll-free numbers, websites, e-newsletters, blimps, whatever. As TS Eliot suggested, the overriding question is “do not ask what is it; let us go and make our visit”. At OffWhite, our overriding question is – what for? The truth is, social media is here to stay. Our need for information at light speed is fueling new ideas brimming up from a generation of upstarts who have no fear of marketing technology. They just don’t always know what it’s for. Social media is more than Facebook. It involves many information channels, out and back, including blogs, forums, user communities, conventional communications tools, deal making, white board talks and more. If you have no clue where and how to start a social media program and how to use it to sell whatever it is you’re selling (or help those in your firm who do), let us know. We can help isolate, identify and match these tools to your business objectives by thinking in reverse from that sacred place where a sale is made and money changes hands. Once we build a map we’ll help you find your way.
The other shoe: How to I measure the return?
When you can’t connect the benefit to the investment, you’re on thin ice. Call it what you want. Return on investment. Return on managed capital. Return on managed effort. As the Marketing Leadership people agree, social media benefits are hard to measure simply because concepts are still emerging and it’s very noisy out there right now. No problem; at OffWhite we start with the basics. When we consider the sales funnel, it makes sense that the more we put in the top, the more you’ll get at the bottom. Social media – when properly integrated – can yield significant increases in measurable awareness for relatively low outside investments. That is the paradox: If you don’t farm it out, you’re stuck with it. That’s why we put the concept of sustainability front and center when we talk to clients about social media. Regardless of the pathway, social media tools are content monsters that need care and feeding. Content, once published, ripens easily. Who owns these projects and how do we justify them in the first place? The Marketing Leadership gurus favor the concept of Return on Objectives. They like to see us “build bridges connecting social media activities to top-line outcomes”. Easier said than done, of course, but possible when properly crafted. Here’s an example. Doesn’t it make sense that more website visits lead to greater awareness about your company and what you’re selling? More awareness leads to more sales? We have the tools to measure website metrics embedded in each site we build. So our first objective might be to tag pages to other links in the awareness chain. If something we do drives a 10% increase in website traffic, it stands to reason we can sell something if we’re ready for the doors to open. And if we know about how our target customers behave and what scares them and what buttons we can push to move them off center, let’s put it there.
Where to Start?
As our own advertising says, “we explain things.” Let us show you how we do it.