- Previously submitted on Forbes.com
Age is all about perspective. At 40, I am ancient, old to a 20 year old, but I am delightfully spry to a 60 year old. It all depends on your vantage point. So, what is your perspective when I tell you I vividly remember an episode of The Twilight Zone that has stuck with me to this day. In it, a man dies and is greeted by an angel who tells him he has died and he can have whatever he wants. He wants to go gambling – he wins every time. Luxury accommodations, beautiful women on his arm – done. He was a thief in life, so he asks to rob a bank. Arrangements are made and he gets away with the money – no problem. But after a short while, he gets bored and wants to lose at gambling, get caught at the bank, not have every woman he sees, etc. The angel is confused and doesn’t understand. The man says that maybe he doesn’t belong here and should be “in the other place” (early television code for Hell). The angel tells him the memorable catch phrase “You don’t understand, you are in the other place.” (Insert insidious wicked laugh and fade to black).
Hell is getting everything you ever wanted. Or, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Having just attended a few conferences and events with denizens and practitioners of social media, I heard from many of them that they just got X installed (new software, new listening platform, new campaign management software, new iPads, you-name-it) and now don’t know what to do with it. Be careful what you wish for . . . In the mad dash for social media excellence, we jump at the next new shiny object or get talking into spending valuable budget on something we yet do not understand. This isn’t even a training issue on how to use these tools and technologies. This is a fundamental issue about setting clearly defined goals and objectives, appropriate utilization of resources, effective measurements, and communicating updates and milestones.
Social Media Goals:
Congratulations, you just got that $3,000/month listening platform that has been on your wish-list since Santa last visited. Now what? It is installed, you are trained, you have sold your boss on all the great things you are going to do with it. Now what? You cant effectively measure if you don’t have your goals firmly in place. This holds true for anything you have acquired to help you along the way, the tool or technology is only as good as the pathway you lay out for it. If you don’t know where you want it to go, it cant take you there. Where is your audience? What do you want them to do? What do you want to do to help get them there? Do you want to improve your reach? How about audience engagement and what does that mean to you? Do you want them to take some action? Do you know who your key influencers are and what they are saying about you now? How do you change that? If you cannot answer or address these questions, these new toys are only going to get in your way, slow you down. It is a car without a steering wheel – it doesn’t matter if it can do 120 miles an hour if you cant steer it.
New tools and technology is great and can certainly be helpful, but you need the right resources in your organization to utilize and help. Social Media is not free – there is a heavy pricetag for social media resources. These people need it in their DNA. I was recently at the Radian6 conference in Boston. Keynote Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel) joked about clients finding 25 year olds to run their social media programs and then being devastated with the lack of results. This isn’t an young person vs old person game. It is about using resource appropriate to your goals and objectives; then, using that new technology effectively. Just because they are 25 and have stubbly facial hair does not alone make them effective social media marketers. Conversely, it doesn’t make them bad, either. Find the right resources to help you with your tasks. Are you selecting them because the “look” hip or “are” hip? Does your program require hipness? Do you need seasoned veteran or do you need new thinking? For what tasks do you need these lenses? Finding the right types of resources for your program is in many ways more important and more overlooked than any new technology. A great staff of people with basic internet access and free accounts can run a great program.
“If you cant measure it, it’s not successful,” an old boss of mine used to say. I am not sure I fully believe that, but it is an effective guidepost. Social media has evolved past the heady days of no accountability and now requires marketers to “sing for their supper.” You have to measure your programs, benchmark success, evolve and grow. But what do you measure? Again, if you just received your first bit of technology to help you run your programs, or to measure your programs, do you know what to measure? Is 100 tweets good for an event? How about 400 retweets? Are 10k “likes” a good number? How about going old school and measuring page views – what is a good number here? The answer to these question are “yes, those are good numbers, if that is what is important to your program?” Is it important to your program? Do you know? We tend to rush and start with big harry audacious goals (BHAGs for those who are acronymic). Start small, measure what is important, set a baseline and grow. It is – at its core – pretty simple.
We all report to someone. Do you have a strategy for communicating your successes? How about your failures? This is all new territory so you will fall down and scrap your knee a few times. It’s ok, we’ve all been there. The point is that you have to develop a strategy to prove your new tool and its worth. You need to show what you are doing, how it impacts the business, why it matters. Guess what, your co-worker down the hall is doing just that for their program, plus you just received a big gift with this new technology or tool. It is time to repay it. Develop a dashboard from your measurements and show it off. Come up with a nice infographic and really engage in some graphical storytelling.
Be careful about getting what you wish for, it can be hell to pay for it.