Three reasons why the “experts” are wrong about social media measurement

There is an argument around the blogosphere that is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

When it turns to the topic of measurement and social media marketing, many “authorities” flippantly rely on the “double standard” argument — If you’re trying to measure the value of SM, you might as well measure the value of a cell phone, the company car and the receptionist.    One popular blogger and author recently said if your manager asks for the ROI of your social media initiative, you should ask him for the ROI of his pants.  Their point is that you just need to accept the social web as something ubiquitous and necessary, so why worry about it?

This is lunacy.  Here are three reasons why this “no need to measure” view is an irresponsible position:

1) Never get caught with your stats down

Let’s examine the argument that you don’t measure the value of a company car, or email so insisting that we measure social media is a double standard.

Even if you don’t directly account for the on-going value of these items on a spreadsheet, there is an implied economic value to cars and cell phones and all this everyday stuff.

At some point in the life of every company, there will be a financial imperative to slash overhead costs.  On that day, everything will be evaluated — do we cut or not cut?  This is the point of reckoning that defines the “implied economic value” of any effort.  Yes, that company car  may be cut.  Probably the receptionst too …  along with many initiatives that have no measurement attached to them.  Which is EXACTLY why you MUST measure.

If you have measurable value attached to your social media initiative, if you can demonstrate how your projects align with strategy and contribute to shareholder value, your implied value goes up and you have a shot at surviving the cuts.  No stats = No chance.

2) The fallacy of free

One argument is that this stuff is free any way, why spend time measuring it?  By now, I’d hope we could put aside the argument that a corporate social media effort is “free.”  Right?

But just how much money are we talking about?

Let’s assume you have one person working full-time on social media marketing. We’ll assign that person a salary of $60,000. In a typical company, standard health, 401(k) and other benefit costs equal another 50% of the base salary, or in this case, $30,000.

We’ll assign another 20% of base salary for overhead such as office space, shared services support and technology. That’s $12,000.  We won’t even address travel, training, or bonuses.

So, our minimal full-up cost for one social media professional is $102,000.  As a business owner, are you willing to spend more  than $100,000 per year without requiring any accountability for a return?  What kind of a company are you running?

3) Measure what you treasure

As my teacher Peter Drucker used to say, you can’t manage it if you can’t measure it. Measurement is necessary to determine progress and opportunity.  How can you NOT measure a strategic imperative like marketing, especially when the metrics are flying at you for free?

I’m a practical guy. I know it may be cost-prohibitive or even impossible to determine the specific ROI of your efforts.  But there is no excuse for not tracking key non-financial measures that contribute to your company’s goals.  To support your credibility, your long-term viability,  and your personal career in social media marketing, you must measure.

This is an emotional topic for some, but it shouldn’t be.  This is basic business common sense. What do you think?

{grow} community alert: Frequent contributor Chris Bailey wrote a nice companion piece to this post and fleshes out some of these ideas. I recommend it!

Spring is in the air

It’s going to be 66 degrees and sunny in Tennessee today. Discuss.  : )

Encouraging social web in the workplace may have side benefits

An article in the Harvard Business Review caught my eye.  It provided some evidence that allowing at least some social media employee freedom is good for the workplace

We all know by now that most organizations limit or frown upon the use of social media in the workplace. Leaders have nightmarish visions of their employees wasting hours on Facebook and Twitter. But this article states that reasonable employee use of social media has actually been shown to benefit companies. Here are three reasons to let your employees get connected:

  1. More attractive workplace. Many people, especially younger generations, see social media as a staple of work life and seek out employers who understand and acknowledge the critical role these new technologies play in our world.
  2. Improved productivity. Research has shown that employees who take breaks to surf the Internet for fun are ultimately more productive than their surf-adverse colleagues.
  3. More engaged workforce.  Employees not only appreciate companies that allow them to check Facebook at work, but they also use social media to connect with colleagues, improve communication, and speed up decision making processes — all of which helps them engage with their work and the organization.

Obviously this is a two-edged sword.  This topic came up during the Q&A session after a speech I gave last week and a riot almost broke out. Many employers have EXTREMELY strong, negative views on this issue.

This battle is going to become even more heated with the ubiquity of mobile applications.

What’s going on in your workplace?  What are your views?

TV news anchor masters the social web to connect with viewers

One of our local news anchors, Tearsa Smith, has done a masterful job using the social web to connect to viewers in a personable, accessible manner. She’s a best practice — bringing her news, her news station, and her life to her fans with energy, enthusiasm and humor.  Tearsa can be found journaling through Twitter and Facebook at all hours it seems, especially if there is breaking news. In a world of arms-length celebrity, she is refreshing and unique.

Here is an interview with Tearsa covering her personal social media strategy:

Tearsa, how did you get involved in the social web? Was it an initiative from your news station, a personal decision, or both?

I’ve always been a fan of social media starting with MySpace and then moving on to Facebook. After connecting with every person I have ever encountered (I have more than 1,100 “friends” on my personal Facebook account) I was a bit against my news director’s push to get the newsroom involved with Twitter. A girl can only spend so many hours online. While reluctant, I now find Twitter to be the most engaging of the social media sites. It’s been very interesting talking with viewers about their take on stories, questions they have and just about life in general.

As you think about how you show up on the social web, is it connected to any personal or professional goals?

I don’t think I went into this with any “goals.” I am awful about calling friends and family and social media has been a great vehicle to stay connected and still juggle the million other things I have going on daily in my life.

The more I am engaged online I do start to see how online media can help anyone professionally. The goal is to be smart and not say everything you might be thinking – unless that is your goal. I have 1,500+ followers and you never know through networking if a potential future employer is waiting in the wings and “following” me. Do I want to come across as smart, likable, witty and well rounded or bitter, disgruntled and unapproachable? Anyone with a skill or interest in a particular industry has the opportunity to “show-off” without seeming pushy or desperate for a job.

Can you point to any ways your participation in Twitter and Facebook has benefited you professionally?

I have two separate lives in the social media world. I have two separate accounts for Facebook – one is public and the other is private. On Twitter I merge the two a bit more. Personally it has been so interesting to catch up with people from my past and family members. On a professional note I LOVE interacting with viewers daily. They remind me daily that we aren’t just reporting stories but that what we report affects real people and their lives for the good or bad.

A lot of fellow journalists don’t see the benefits of social media but I think it is a great tool to connect. I have had really good story ideas pitched to me via Twitter/Facebook because people feel like they know me or they can trust me.  As journalists we miss the mark if we just spit out news headlines throughout the day – that’s what the official TV station/newspaper’s Twitter/Facebook/MySpace account is for. It’s my job to ask people what they think and if they have any follow ups to enhance the story.

About how much time do you spend on Twitter/Facebook each day?  Is it difficult to keep up with fan requests?

You don’t even want to know.  Actually I don’t even want to know. I am on from 4 am-11:30am while I’m at work. I am on after work hours on my Blackberry throughout the day and of course I pop online before bed on my laptop. You do the math! It’s not hard keeping up with fan/viewer requests as long as they request information from public pages.  All of this while balancing work, a household, husband and 1 year old daughter.

How do you handle the inevitable invasiveness that occurs when a TV personality opens up for public display?

I am very guarded about what I say and how I say it. It is very rare that I disclose where I am until I have left the location. Exceptions are made for work sponsored events where I am not alone. I think this is a good idea for anyone, especially women looking at their safety. For example if I am out shopping I don’t say where I am but I will still give any observations that I think are funny or interesting at the time. Over time, you will get people who feel especially close to you and it’s up to me to draw that fine line between engaging and overstepping boundaries. Usually I can wiggle out of invasiveness with a little humor.

What are my chances I can follow in your footsteps as a popular news anchor?  Be honest, Tearsa.

Honestly, Mark … you just don’t have the hair for it … Sorry.

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