Excessive exuberance is the Achilles Heel of social media. We are in an age of experimentation, of learning and growth. There are few clearly defined rules of engagement and even fewer success metrics that have withstood the test of time. Because of the economic climate, social media is often considered a quick fix and a way to create value with little budget or staff. Too often the wrong definitions of success are celebrated – “We have thousands of followers on Twitter!” “We just launched a Facebook business account!” “There are comments on our blog!” Great. Perhaps. But did these “successes” help the company advance in a meaningful way? Who did you reach and what were their impressions and calls to action? Did you yield anything to help the company?
As social media is becoming entrenched in the business world, we must take a hard look at the expectations for social media and make sure they are tempered with the same rigor you would apply to a program that did not involve social media. There are many social media program failures around us, and it is just the beginning. There will be many more before we land at a place where social media is well integrated into the business value chain.
We need to treat social media with the respect and measures of any other true innovation project within the enterprise and stop pinning our hopes and dreams upon anecdotes and wishful thinking. We’ve seen excessive exuberance cycles before and they are often rooted in technology advancement. Take for example the advent of the web…. Every company sought to create a web site but few knew what they would do with it or how it would benefit their organization. Sure, the speculation was right- the web was and is transformative, but there were many casualties along the way of misguided ideas and silly businesses without a business plan.
Align the business goals with the user needs in order to properly match the features and functions offered with the purpose of the effort. For example, if your company’s focus is B2B – then you may be better served by creating an online community to serve your clients and serve as a way to expose thought leadership, product road maps, discover new product and service needs and desires etc. than to create a Facebook business account or launch a blog. In this case privacy and exclusivity matter more than broad reach. After all, do you really care if you have 10K followers if the majority doesn’t represent your audience?
WHO you endeavor to serve needs to dictate the How and the Why for the program. The art of choosing the right interactive model directly impacts its success. Once you can clearly define who you want to serve and in what ways, only then you can begin to identify the proper processes and outcomes of the effort in a measured and accountable way.
What are some of your authentic social media successes?