It’s amazing how sometimes a number of unrelated events fall into place like a web of interconnected forces destined to be together. No, I am not venturing into creative writing, rather, I am speaking of the course of events during the past week that started with creating the infograph you see before you.
Last Tuesday, I spent a good hour creating this infograph to communicate the need for what I call “a winning mindset” to achieve success with social media. In my view, the potential for social media reaches beyond PR and marketing activities. Instead, it should be thought of as serving a singular purpose that impacts every aspect of a business: To serve our audience/clients/customers better.
Then, on Thursday I came across a fabulous article by Shel Israel on Forbes entitled: “Will marketing mock up social media?“ I was delighted to read an echo of my thoughts in that article, although, stated in a slightly different manner. In that article, Shel Israel correctly raises concern about a troubling shift in the way in which companies are using social media, basically confining its use to the marketing department, and measuring it’s value purely through ROI of dollars spent, versus dollars gained.
interestingly enough, on Friday, as I was preparing for my Open Social Media Initiative Workshop on Effective Blogging, I was pinged by a follower (or I should say, circler) who asked me whether I would define the word “effective” in terms of ROI, time/dollars spent versus dollars gained, and business outcome (you can read the thread here). In his opinion, unless I addressed click through rates, and number of sales per page-visit, the workshop would be a waste of time, since I was not approaching “effectiveness” scientifically. He wanted me to show him data about A/B testing results, and so on and so forth.
Now, as a strong advocate of the scientific method, I would agree with his assertions, except there are a couple of things that are misguided about his argument and what it really means to do science:
1- Scientific discovery is a long term ventures, and its effectiveness cannot necessarily be judged based on short-term measuring methods:
If scientists were to be purely focused on the ultimate outcome (curing a disease) when evaluating the merits of each individual experiment, science would be deemed as lacking “effectiveness”. Scientific breakthroughs often occur as a result of a life time of experimentation, and occasionally come about due to a serendipitous error which catches the attention of an inquisitive mind.
Scientific investigation may be a measurement-driven exercise, but a good scientist knows that it is nature that dictates the rules, often in quite unpredictable ways. He/she is patient, and knows that keeping an open mind is the recipe to making profound discoveries. In fact, this is the precise long-term way of thinking that is alarmingly lacking in some pharmaceutical/biotech companies, who kill their R&D departments to save money on a short term basis. This ill fated practice often leads to empty pipelines and desperate measures.
2- Social media and blogging do not always lend themselves to measuring monetary ROI, and coming up with exact numbers:
This is because, if done right, social media and blogging are driven and fueled by human behavior, which can be unpredictable and erratic at times. It would be a mistake to regard a company’s followers and blog readers purely as numbers, because they are not.
If Chief Social Media Officers are leading their teams in the right path, they would require them to get to know each and everyone of their brand advocates, and those customers who come to their digital channels to seek help. They would be taking time to converse with their audience to gain insight into their needs and pain points, and feed that information to product development and R&D teams. The profound long term financial benefits of integrating social media in every aspect of a business cannot always be measured on a quarterly basis.
The greatest struggle facing social media and blogging today is the fight between ROI marketing purists, and social media enthusiasts who see a higher purpose for this new medium of communication. The answer to this struggle is a change in mindset on the part of business owners and marketers to see their purpose as serving their customers and getting paid for it, and not the other way around. Seeing oneself in the higher pursuit of serving and being rewarded fairly for doing so, rather than manipulating to make a sale, is the answer.
Now, back to my Open Social Media workshop on Effective Blogging. Obviously, I was not deterred by the above mentioned conversation, and carried on with the presentation, which was broadcast live on Google Plus Hangout On Air. I am pretty happy with what I shared, and now I would like to hear your point of view about the concepts I discussed above and the presentation itself. Thank you for reading and responding, as I value our human connection.
You can also view the slide presentation below: