Death of the Social Media Strategist: Overselling & Underperforming from the Start
[Initially this post was going to be a response to this post What Makes a True Social Business Strategist? from Business 2 Community – but it got a little bigger than that.]
Results: I have posted the results of the massive traffic boost this post has given me this week: Breaking Down the "Value" of a Viral Hit on Social Media
Update: I just noticed what’s missing from this entire post and the graph below. MOBILE. You’d better get your mobile theme and apps ready, cause indeed mobile is taking over the entire online space, for good, bad, and ugly.
It’s hard to figure out what to call this job. Online marketing is about as boring as it gets. But let me show you a few illuminating numbers.
Okay, do you see the problem? If all we talk about is "social media" we’re talking about 8% of the total marketing budget. There are plenty more ONLINE channels that could fall into our bucket, (email, seo, online ads) but as a line item, it’s easy to see how social is often not the first priority.
There are also some recent numbers that support the idea that social is a lot more effective at certain types of marketing.
But the bottom line is this, social media is PART of the MIX but it is not the solution. AS A SINGLE CHANNEL, social will deliver very little in terms of ROI. Here’s the good news, as part of a coordinated program (where social feeds email, and seo, and online ads) social media can be the "accelerant" that takes your ho hum program into something worth cheering for. But that’s the long story. The short story is this.
- Facebook ROI is some of the biggest mythology in online marketing
- Twitter as a lead or demand generation tool is greatly exaggerated
- Google Analytics can not tell you why visitors to your site chose to buy or not buy your product
- The entire mix of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogging, LinkedIn) still only accounts for 8% of the marketing budget
And the next piece of logic is this. If you are a social media strategist, you are expected to make that 8% jump through hoops, perform miracles, AND deliver ROI (which you must demonstrate with excel driven accuracy). It can be done. Well, part of it can be done. But without the total ONLINE MARKETING MIX working together, it’s like Tweeting randomly into the cavernous world of social media. You MIGHT get a RT or a tweetback response. But you are unlikely to get anything resembling success.
So we’ve set ourselves up to fail by cordoning off the most exciting part of the online mix, the part that has NEW STUFF to write about, and we’ve isolated ourselves from the other stakeholders who hold many of the keys to our success.
- A landing page that underperforms will not convert better simply by throwing a new 100,000 visitors to the page.
- An offer in the marketplace that isn’t being accepted isn’t going to be SOLD by building up LIKES and RECOMMENDATIONS on City Search or Yelp.
- If your seo sucks, your page rank will suck and your social ads will not perform up to snuff either. Who’s in charge of your content?
- Social media is about telling stories. If the only story you have to tell is, "Hey, green weenies are 25% off today." you’re not really adding much to the conversation. In order for social media to be social you have to have some content to socialize.
Activity is NOT an accurate measurement of social media success. Nor is Radian 6’s famed "share of voice" measurement. IF they are talking about you, great. If they are saying mainly good things about you, even better. IF they are NOT buying your product, the CEO and CFO will fire your ass, and they will be right in doing so. No matter how great your Google Analytics dashboards look. (Disclaimer, this scenario in no way resembles any previous engagement with any previous or future clients of mine. Ever.)
The questions are the same questions we ask of any other marketing program.
- What does it cost?
- How many potential customers can we reach? (calculate cost per customer)
- How many customers did we activate? (how many came to our site as result of the offer/program/tweet // calculate cost per reach)
- How many customers clicked the BUY NOW button. (pre-conversion metrics, so they expressed interest in your product // calculate cost per lead)
- How many customers PAID YOU and COMPLETED THE TRANSACTION? BOOM. The golden measuring stick of ROI. DID THEY BUY IT? (calculate cost per conversion)
- Finally, how much did each new customer cost you to acquire?
Without these numbers the CEO and CFO will crap all over your pretty charts and graphs. Some of the "measurement" PowerPoint decks I saw at Dell, about Christmas Online Campaigns would make me cry or laugh depending on my dependency to that specific project. If you don’t have ROI you’re not a real marketing program. If you can’t justify the cost per transaction, you need to start looking for a new line of work. (Perhaps social media strategy blogger is a better use of your expertise. I kid. I don’t make any money off Uber.la, I make money by doing a wizbang job of using Online Marketing to drive demand and ultimately sales of a specific product of service.)
So, the next time someone labels you a Social Media Strategist, tell them… Dang, I don’t have this answer yet. Tell them, "Social media is part of the work I do."
I need to go look at my LinkedIn profile right now and change the language of my expertise.
Social is cool, new, hip, and YES: powerful. But social alone is worth nothing. Without a landing page, a transactional opportunity and successful completion, social is worth much less than 8%. Social for "activity" and "share of voice" is worth applause and kudos, from your friends, but not the guys in the upper offices who are cutting the checks to Facebook and Google for social ads. You’d better get your ROI model firmly in place and justified so you can SHOW them why your program, position, project exists.
Good luck, I’m right in there with you, every day.
The Essentials of Social Media Marketing:
- Social Media U – videos and best practices
- Digital Strategist’s Notebook – my current best-of for small business
- Workin Facebook – all the Facebook learning you’ll ever need
- The Twitter Way – the Twitter book in post form
- The Other Social Networks – Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest
- Social Media Funnies – cause we need to laugh at ourselves and our social medianess
- Contact Me – the keys to the social media kingdom await
- SMBs Spend Twice As Much On Email Marketing Than On Social Media [STUDY] – Mediabistro
- Blogs Still Rank Higher Than Twitter For Shaping Consumers’ Opinions – Mediabistro
- 2013 Digital Media Influence Report [PDF download 9.3 mb] – Technorati
- What Makes a True Social Business Strategist? – Business 2 Community
- design & user experience
- executive learnings
- search engine optimization
- social media
- teaming & leadership
- tech opinion
- tech reviews
- Full-Service Marketing Agencies? Can One Firm Handle Everything?
- Facebook Commerce – Winning Business from 800 Million Consumers
- How To Generate Strategic Content for Social Media?
- Resetting Facebook: Expectations & Priorities vs. Procrastination
- Review: MacBookPro – 15′ with Retina – OMG!
- What’s All This Hashtag Stuff? If You Don’t Tag It, They May Never Come!
- Auto-Bots Are Killing Twitter; Why Auto-Social & Robot-Social is Bad for Social
- Social Media is Pool Party – Drop the Agenda
- Everybody Wants Something From You, What Do You Want?
- The Intertwined Cycle of SEO and SEARCH: A Quick Guide