The fact that something can be counted or measured does not
make it worth measuring. Yet many so-called social media gurus want business
owners and CEOs to accept worthless measurements as proof of the effectiveness
of their social media programs. What is more, because so many of us are still
mystified by social media, far too many people are reluctant to challenge what
they are being told. Unless you inhabit some parallel universe, Facebook is not
a strategy, nor will it ever be a strategy. Accumulating 400 Twitter Followers is not a business goal, although it might be a noteworthy feat for many.
Let’s all keep a tight hold on our intelligence and
rationality even when talking about social media. They are neither mystifying
nor magical. If social media are to have any real value for businesses, that
value must be measurable and must contribute in some clear way to the
achievement of business goals. Have you discovered someone who is willing to
pay you a livable salary simply because you are able to get 400 people to click
a button once and become your follower on Twitter? On what planet?
Social media can have measurable and sustainable value for
business if it is used in harmony with other strategies and if one is clear
about what constitutes a value to the business. Achieving clarity about what is
of value to a business must begin with the business, not what one believes
social media programs can achieve and measure. The fatal flaw in many social
media strategies today is that they are based on what others believe they are
accomplishing via social media rather than what is of value for the success of
Strategy is the servant of goals or objectives, and not the
reverse. Planning to use social media to achieve business goals will only be
beneficial if planners stop confusing the end with the means. Start with your
business goals or objectives. What must you do in your business in order to
keep the doors open for another month (or year)? Every business will need to
generate revenue. The revenue must exceed the costs of doing business by some
acceptable margin and produce a profit.
In many business models, companies sell products, services,
or knowledge that are of value to a group of people who are willing to be
persuaded to pay a specified amount of money for them. A business goal would be to sell enough of your product, service, or knowledge to generate a profit for
the business. To sell the product you must have (a) customers with (b) the
ability to purchase and (c) the belief that their needs will be met.
Your product, finance, and marketing people have done their
jobs well, determining that in order to earn enough profit to keep the business
running for one additional quarter you must sell 500 products at their
suggested retail price during this quarter. They have also determined that your
sales team sells one product for every five customers they see. You must
generate enough interest in 2500 people to see a salesperson. That is a business goal: you must attract 2500 people to come through the door and talk with a salesperson.
Your plan for how you will attract 2500 people with enough
interest in your product, service, or knowledge is a strategy. Facebook is not a strategy. Facebook is a platform for human interaction via the Internet. In fact, Facebook becomes an element in your strategy only if you determine actions you can take using the Facebook platform to make the right people aware of the benefits of your products, services, or knowledge.
Determining that Facebook or Twitter might be a useful
platform for sharing information with a targeted audience that needs what you
are selling is only the beginning of strategy development. Having 400 Twitter
followers has business value only if they are the right people – people who
want, need and are able to buy from you.
The next time someone tries to tell you Facebook is a
strategy or that having 400 Twitter followers achieves a business goal, trust
yourself and don’t pay attention. Unless 2500 Twitter followers are prepared to
talk with a salesperson, they don’t matter. If you are running a business –
even if you are new at it – you know what it takes to keep the doors open.
Don’t let anybody convince you to chase the means rather than the end. Here is
a more rational approach to the usefulness of social media to achieve your
1. State your top three to five business goals.
2. Determine if achieving any of the goals requires prior achievement of other goals.
3. Prioritize the goals, ranking them from most important to least important.
4. Outline exactly what you must do to achieve each goal.
5. Rationally evaluate if and how activities on social media platforms will help you achieve the goal.
6. Outline the activities you believe will achieve the goal.
7. Determine if and how the activities and the response to the social media activities can be measured.
8. Determine if you can quantify and verify a path from the social media response to a purchase.
9. Ask yourself, “If it cannot be tracked or measured, how will I evaluate benefit and ROI?”
By keeping a firm grip on your rationality and trusting you
business instincts, you can make wise decisions about the role of social media
in your business. Remember that Facebook is not a strategy and that winning 400
Twitter followers is not a legitimate business goal. Then take a deep breath,
put it all into the perspective of your business and try the more rational
approach to evaluation above.
By Staff, Little Black Dog Social Media and More