I’m writing here today because Mr. Jeff Esposito is off doing something else. I’m not sure what. Maybe getting married or something. Who knows?
Seriously though – welcome to the club Jeff, congrats. I hope people like this post – if they do, consider it my wedding gift to you. If they don’t, well, then you’re getting gypped. Anyway, here goes:
People will talk ad nauseam about stunts, strategies, tactics, and best practices. They’ll throw around terms like “engagement,” “viral,” and “disclosure.” Gurus will wax passionate about the elusive Social Media ROI. Does it really exist? Can it be measured and quantified? (If they say no, end that conversation immediately – the “Social Media can be subjected to ROI” argument is a just slick way of saying “Pay me to do work that you will have no way of assessing.” FAIL.)
But these concepts, and your accompanying approach to leveraging the social space for your brand or your client, are worthless if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. The coolest “Viral” video, the most interactive user generated contest promotion, the most innovative use of twitter – can all go to waste if you fail to properly outline your targets, from the outset.
Objectives. Goals. Benchmarks. Who do you want to reach? Men? Women? Children? Do you want to drive them to a website? Alter brand perception? Promote a new product? Create buzz and hype over an intentionally esoteric campaign? Drive purchases? Support your customer service?
Social media is this wonderland of possibilities. An infinite expanse of novelty and innovation – there are little to no rules, no boundaries, and no limits. Creativity thrives, if you let it. But all too often the most brilliant and creative ideas and social media initiatives die a slow and painful death when, at the crux of the campaign – you realize that, despite 2 million people downloading your Facebook application, it hasn’t altered consumer behaviors in the slightest. Or, that you’ve managed to successfully drive traffic to your microsite, you know, because it’s so cool looking and mines data from twitter and Facebook to tell people exactly what color their eyes SHOULD be, yet it hasn’t had a significant impact on sales because you spent so much time ideating – that you forgot that one little issue – a 400% spike in traffic to a microsite is worthless if no one clicks through to your ecommerce hub.
Or maybe you work at an agency, and you sell your client on a Twitter campaign. They approve spending on personnel to manage an account. They shell out cash for exclusive twitter promotions to their followers. And 6 months in they ask – “OK, where are the results?” And you didn’t have the foresight to set a benchmark – did we want to garner 20,000 followers over the course of the promotion? Are those 20,000 followers worth the money? Were you hoping that your fans would spread the word about how cool your brand is? What was your goal? How did you plan on measuring the success of whatever it is that you did? Can you prove that the money was well spent, a wise investment?
In the rush to jump on the bandwagon, it’s all too easy to overlook that critical and essential element. But you can’t afford to – or you’ll taint the entire concept of social media for any future utilization.
So please – before you jump into strategy, before you start contacting developers to price out your Facebook connect-enabled, data-mining, real-time, visualization, mashup, microsite that will undoubtedly permeate the interwebs, take a minute to ask – Will it actually help our bottom line? How? How will we measure success? What should our objectives be? What vehicle will we use? Who is our target audience? The questions may not evoke the same excitement as discussions on leveraging existing social behaviors & employing the latest technology, but they are equally, if not more, important. Remember, social media is only part of a larger picture called business.
Sorry for the ranting, but every now and then we all need a good tirade.
What is an Aerocles you ask? An Aerocles was a young PR professional (now in advertising/social media) experimenting with social media who created a twitter account and established an amazing group of followers (more later on why I don’t like that term), before realizing what twitter was, how helpful it would be from a professional standpoint, and that rebranding oneself as a previously unknown, possibly nonexistent, mythical Greek deity might not be the best idea. That, my friends, is an Aerocles.