The growth of social media is explosive – everywhere you turn there are new stats on the rise of Twitter, Facebook or the newest innovations to drive better social media behavior. Even with the growth, its still widely experimental. Most companies are trying new ideas, new sites, new communities with success stories appearing all the time from Ford, Dell or the infamous Blendtec. The great part of social media is that you can experiment without a significant investment – its not building a $5M advertising campaign and watching it fail. You start and stop projects, campaigns and interactions relatively quickly, based on immediate feedback from the best people you could ever dream of… your customers!
However, as any new trend comes of age, people begin to want ROI and accountability for any such investment. In fact, a lot of people get too hung up on the details of the ROI they miss the big picture – keep in mind, most people are not measuring the ROI on social media and that is okay!
Most of the success stories you read about were not carefully planned, financially engineered and flawlessly executed social media campaigns that got it right because they planned it that way. We are in the experimentation phase, so experiment. Have an eye towards where you would like to see the impact, but don’t let accountability delay progress.
This does not mean go wildly into wild west west and waste hours per day tweeting worthless chatter…there is plenty of that. I believe the accountability of your social media efforts depends on the maturity of your social media experience. If you were an early adopter of social media and have it working like a well-oiled machine (congrats) you should have a good understanding of the return through each of your social media programs measured against the investment of time and money. Most of you are not even close to this nirvana and keep in mind, the landscape of social media changes frequently, so you always will need to experiment.
If you are starting out and just dipping your toe in the water, then measuring ROI on your limited effort will be fruitless and much too limited in scope. I recommend dipping a few more toes – maybe the foot and leg even – to see what works and what does not. At that point, its not about the statistician’s role to calculate your return, but to take a higher view of trends and the impact of what works and what doesn’t. Most of all, its about getting started – once you have started, it will become more clear about what you want to measure and where. Of course, you should always have an eye towards accountability and have an idea of the results you would like to see, but keep it simple to start, measure what you can, but put action before measurement in the beginning.
I welcome your thoughts on accountability.
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