Self-evident Truths Social Media is Our Answer in a Stale Economy

2012/01/15 18:40

You have power if you understand and control communication. Social Media platforms are relatively inexpensive tools that can quickly get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and what essentially amounts to word-of-mouth dissemination. In this economy, Social Media can have significant effects on strategic endeavors, and organizations striving to be successful in today’s business environment would be remiss in not considering Social Media participation…..especially in today’s economy.

But as budgets continue to tighten, this relatively new form of marketing does face some challenges. Many organizations have yet to include Social Media in their marketing budgets. Or they merely “test the waters” by dabbling without a firm commitment. Organizations must move beyond experimentation by making social applications a permanent part of the marketing effort. As with anything, they must measure and demonstrate value. When properly managed, Social Media will deliver measurable ROI results.

Many organizations already use Social Media to some extent. Due to the very nature of Social Technologies, these budgets are miniscule compared to advertising and PR. Quite often Social Applications aren’t even a formalized line item in marketing budgets. If you fund Social Media merely as an experiment, you are unlikely to be able to really make an impact and therefore will not garner a secure source of funding for the future. The best way to get serious consideration for Social Media efforts is to concentrate on objectives and measure progress towards those objectives, just as you do with traditional Web analytics or anything else in which you invest.

Demonstrate how Social Media Marketing is effective, despite budget cuts. Don’t concentrate on measurements such as page views, which really have no effect the business; instead focus on how customers have moved farther down the marketing funnel. Is their brand awareness increasing? Measure their awareness and interest through activity and interaction, and (if applicable) their intent to buy with registration or questions. Demonstrate value based on measuring business objectives, not just traditional Web analytics.

Manage your social media commitment for the long term. Because it is one of the few marketing budget items increasing during a sluggish economy (and if you do not participate, your organization will potentially only lose market share), Social Media Marketing needs to be taken seriously and treated as a corporate asset. To ensure success, you must fund and manage Social Media Marketing as a long-term program, not a short-term experiment. It is critical to have dedicated resources addressing Social Media at both the strategic and the tactical levels.

Take advantage of Social Media platform metrics in order to prove effectiveness. You cannot manage what you do not measure. As platforms mature, they are increasingly offering tools, which provide the analysis to gauge engagement. You must prove the worth of Social Media applications in order to procure budget from other areas.

With a bit of diligence and planning, Social Media will prove to be a relatively inexpensive way to increase your marketing efforts and brand awareness, with a strong bang for your buck. Commit to the effort and enjoy the results!