Okay – people keep telling you, the news keeps telling you, marketers (not really people) keep telling you that social media is the next big thing. And your first well advised response is (or should be) WHY?
I just got out of a client meeting about this very issue, and I feel it's very pertinent to bring up this subject. For them, for me…for YOU. Here goes.
There aren't many businesses (or marketing companies for that matter) out there that are really doing it right, and if they are – they're only intuitively tracking its success (i.e. I started 'it' and now I get more visits, traffic, sales, whatever). So there isn't a hard and fast ROI percentage that can be handed down (For every hour spent you will receive a 5% return over cost of…well you get the idea). But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be some kind of metric to follow.
Obviously, the quick answer is to use a pretty comprehensive tracking system that can follow a user through multiple (correctly tagged) web sites. From your Twitter page, to your Blog, to your Website, and back again. With an open session that is measured in days not hours. This will help you keep an eye on all your touchpoints. Like watching lightning bugs in a jar, some will shine, some will flicker, some will die out. But you wouldn't REALLY know unless you track it properly. Links is the easiest way (seemingly). Exit surveys might help tie some things up as well.
I'm not saying even I (yes, even I…I said it) have the answer(s) to the Why? and How? questions because chasing social media from a marketing perspective is something akin to herding cats (and riding lightning) or both. You get the idea.
Right now, many businesses have to resolve to one simple logic. There's a HUGE mass of people out there, telling you what they like, what they do, where they all, how many kids they have, what their kids like, where they shop, what car they drive….everything down to what they had for breakfast. How couldn't that information be helpful? Think of it this way, many businesses saw and continue to see success in email marketing, and many purchased email lists are simply bought on the simplist segments – state, zip, income – and blast off.
And this doesn't even address the Who? So you embark on social media as a marketing tool, but WHO do you give it to? Whose responsibility should it be to respond to negative reviews, or questions, or interest?
It's not unlikely that in the near future, marketing departments will have Social Media divisions, with directors and specialists, focusing on Twitter or Facebook or Ning or YouTube. Some already may. Just like search engine optimization started leeching into interactive departments. Sometimes, the idea of having a department so segmented makes me want to pull my hair out, so I can sympathize if you want to do the same. If you attempt 'it' yourself, understaff and ill prepared, you'll be like Sysophys pushing that rock up the hill. Don't be like Sysophys. Ask for help from a professional social media marketing company.
Stay tuned as the conversation continues. After all …it is social.