Monthly Archives: November 2010

Social Media ROI – Fact or Fiction?

Image Credit:  http://www.webguild.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/roi.jpg

ROI (Return On Investment) is a rather simple mathematical calculation that evaluates the efficiency of an investment or its performance in comparison to other investments.  How simple?  Here it is:  Gains – Costs / Costs = ROI.  Pretty nifty, right?

Here’s an example – if you use $100 of budget that nets $150 in revenue or gains your ROI is 50% (150 – 100 / 100 = .50).

The basic ROI equation becomes rather tricky in the Social Media realm.  How valuable is a Twitter follower?  What quantitative impact does a Facebook wall comment provide?  Is the quantity of LinkedIn connections more important than the quality?

Social Media is a channel of open communication that exists outside of the normal boundaries of push and pull marketing and is difficult to provide firm ROI in the traditional sense.  And this is where things get tricky …

Trying to prove the value of Social Media in a traditional ROI sense is rather difficult.  You cannot easily quantify the value add of a Social Media presence in terms of traditional ROI gains.  In fact, you’re more likely to show a loss when using a traditional ROI model.  Social Media, as a channel, should be analyzed from a branding, engagement, influence, and competitive value add perspective as a component of strategic marketing initiatives.  This allows for qualitative measurements of individual marketing channels that combined lead to revenue gains.  Strategic marketing encompasses the channels and messaging that will deliver on business initiatives (i.e. sales, hires, brand recall, viral marketing, etc.).  Thus, the Social Media aspect of marketing ROI cannot be measured alone.

I guarantee you that a marketing executive will get fired looked at funny if they delivered an ROI analysis that included this statement: “We spent $50,000 on a Facebook page and have not been able to prove that anyone posting comments on the wall or who has followed the page actually buys our products.  But, it looks cool. And, everyone else is doing it.”

Social Media’s ROI should (typically) be tied to branding and influence initiatives within the marketing budget and strategy.  Branding ROI is component of marketing ROI and should never be analyzed independently … rather, the entire marketing budget (thus, your strategy delivery mechanism) should be utilized against total revenues or gains to determine effectiveness of the strategy.  No results = Bad strategy.  Plain and simple.  Simply creating a corporate Facebook page or Twitter account is a tactical response to a strategic problem.  Changing your channels of communications as part of a shift in marketing mix that is quantifiable in gains (ROI) is a strategic move.

That marketing executive I mentioned earlier would look like a rockstar if their statement included:  “We built a fan base to mitigate negative public comments and bolster positive consumer opinions that would impact our brand.  We leveraged sponsored campaigns on this channel (Facebook) that were tied to the page and tracked click-throughs and sales via web analytics …”  and so on.

At the end of the day, it’s all about ROI.  Plain and simple.  Did your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc. create gains on its own or was it part of a marketing mix that worked in unison from a strategic perspective to deliver gains?  The person signing checks or giving you a budget doesn’t care about fans, followers, comments, and so on … they are concerned with your strategy and its ultimate impact on revenue.  Positioning social media as a progressive and innovative component of your overall strategy makes you look like a rockstar – if, and only if, that strategy, as a whole, actually delivers something quantifiable like revenues, hires, etc.

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Now Hiring! Brand Ambassadors …

Social Media Landscape

From time to time I’ve seen job postings or requisitions for Brand Ambassadors to represent a Brand in a positive way and carry the brand message out to the public via a variety of media channels.  This is an extremely important role in marketing that often represents a strategic initiative to initiate or further customer engagement especially in new marketing channels like social media.  The role affords the organization control over public messaging and can provide valuable feedback and metrics for analysis of market engagement, penetration, segmentation, etc.

I believe a lot of organizations have failed to recognize their employees as Brand Ambassadors. Yes, I’ve heard almost everyone say that they feel their employees are Brand Ambassadors but this isn’t something typically supported from a corporate perspective.  Thanks to social media (whether YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs … take your pick!) everyone can truly be an ambassador – and to the chagrin of a lot of marketing organizations … they already are.

Why not EMPOWER your employees to be brand amabassadors?  Every company has an opportunity to do this during new hire training, onboarding, or even via their employee handbooks.  HR and Marketing could team up and devise a very quick yet powerful brand overview or guideline that employees could feel empowered (and supported) to leverage across their social media presence.  Employees are (usually) very proud of their workplace and want to share stories, interactions, etc. with their personal networks … and trust me, they already do … but have not been armed with referencable items like logos, tag lines, style sheets, or even a Top 10 List of do’s and don’ts.  In the recent past, Google’s handbook summed all of this up in one line … “Don’t be stupid.” … although, I’m sure that’s changed by now.   Wouldn’t it be great if your entire organization felt empowered to be brand ambassadors?


Sales vs. Marketing – An MBA Opinion (Part 1)

The old adage still rings true at most organizations – sales and marketing do not get along.  In fact, most organizations fail to acknowledge (outside of quotas) that the sales team is ultimately responsible for revenue and unknowingly pit Marketing against Sales and vice versa.  In my opinion, ALL functions of the organization should be aligned to enable revenue growth. Too often, leadership fails the sales organization in properly aligning corporate resources and departments to enable the best performance of the sales organization.  Simply purchasing email lists, attending trade shows, etc. is NOT properly aligning marketing with sales.  Both departments should work in tandem towards revenue attainment.  If marketing, customer support, development, etc. do not have “skin in the game” then leadership has failed to enable a sales team that can deliver revenue.

The root cause of this, in my opinion, is the failure of business schools to provide sales theory and practice to MBA students (heck, even Business Undergrads).  All the marketing theory, product management, business analysis, financial modeling, etc. you learn in B-School means absolutely nothing if revenue isn’t ultimately generated.  There is definitely an innate skill set component to sales that cannot be taught – but, without a proper introduction or understanding of basic sales methodologies in an MBA program there is never an opportunity to understand the importance (and mechanics) of properly aligning an organization for revenue growth or attainment.  And the net result is almost daily conversations like this:


Recruiting Is Marketing

Minneapolis, Minnesota. Image has been cropped.

Image via Wikipedia

On November 17th I’ll be facilitating a roundtable discussion for work at HealthPartners in Minneapolis.  “Recruiting IS Marketing” is the theme for the event and I’m excited to bring the best of marketing and recruiting practices together as well as learn what other major employers in the Twin Cities are up to with their Talent Marketing efforts.

I’m planning on introducing basic concepts like consumer behavior, marketing management, etc. courtesy of my MBA coursework at St. Thomas and how each of them is vital for organizations to leverage moving into 2011 and 2012.  We are fast approaching (believe it or not) a very significant shortage of skilled talent as our economy continues a shift from an industrial base to a knowledge base. The battle lines are being drawn …

Any major marketing organization, like a big box retailer, is in the midst of final preparations for Q4 business (their version of the battle line).  They’ve spent the past 12 months (since the end of the prior Holiday season) leveraging marketing practices to understand, engage, influence, and drive consumer purchasing behaviors.  They’ve built loyal followings and preliminary engagements via social media, have a presence on search engines, have optimized their advertising channels, invigorated their websites, and prepped their operations and processes as part of their execution strategy.  So, why am I talking about retailers and marketing?

Because, recruiting IS marketing!

Talent Acquisition / Retention should be in the business of executing an organizations overall business level strategy.  It is the Human Capital of an organization in an ever increasing global knowledge based economy that enables success or leads to failure.  Recruiting organizations are far too often leveraging antiquated methodologies when it comes to acquiring talent for their companies.  Bridging the gap between their B2C or B2B marketing efforts with their recruiting efforts should be a primary goal for Talent Acquisition in preparation for the impending shortage of skilled talent. A synergy between corporate marketing and human resources creates organizational efficiencies and drives additional value (and results) for both departments.  After all, job candidates are customers and customers are job candidates.

The battle lines are being drawn and plans are being made … the decisions that are made in the coming months will determine who gets the sale (or candidate) and who doesn’t in 2011 and 2012.


Coopetition via Social Media and Personal Brand

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Coopetition or Co-opetition is a business term defined as cooperative competition.  It is a unique strategy where competitors unite within a specific marketplace by leveraging each others assets in an effort to gain market share, drive revenue, protect image, gain recognition, etc.

While most common in the business world (example:  Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s United Space Alliance ),  coopetition extends itself into our personal ecosystems via social media outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Each of us has a personal brand that we build via social networks and that we utilize for gaining our own market share.  Our market may be friends and family, reuniting with former classmates, or even looking for job.  LinkedIn is a perfect example of coopetition … our personal and professional brands live in unison with other network connections on LinkedIn that typically have similar backgrounds or skill sets yet we  leverage the power of their connections or networks to further our own interests – whether to generate new business, get a new job, recruit a candidate, etc.

The power of social media is the opportunity to take one of the most powerful business strategies and apply it to our personal and professional lives – to cooperate and compete … for new friends, new relationships, or new jobs.


The Bucket List – 100 Things To Do

I stumbled across this site http://100thingssebterry.blogspot.com/ while reading another blog – what an amazing journey this person has been on.  Rather than practicing the coulda, woulda, shoulda philosophy – this guy made a list of 100 things he’d like to do in life, also known as a bucket list,  and is slowly but surely accomplishing each of them.

Taking a look at his list reminded me that not everyone takes advantage on opportunities to become self fulfilled rather than financially secure.  Granted, financial security is an important part of life (right?!) … but, if it comes at the cost of not being happy, not finding love, not being whatever – then you’ve wasted your life.  It’s as simple as that.

I made a list (not of a 100 things) that I wanted to do in 2008 and with the completion of my MBA will have completed it. I’ve been skydiving, went golfing, ran a 6:10 mile, etc.  Getting the MBA has sidetracked me from a lot of “fun” things that I wanted to do in the past 2 years (and is one the “bigger” things that I wanted to do).

Graduation is around the corner – May 2011 to be exact.  I think it’s time to create another list of things to do and get to work!

What do you want to do next?


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