Social Media – What Is It?

Matt Krautstrunk wrote an article on social media recently titled “Where Is The ROI In Social Media?”. In the article he makes a great point that tracking ROI depends on your goals, and this certainly can apply  to almost anything in business. However, before you can establish clear-cut goals and track the ROI of social media, you first need to define it.

Social Media – what is it? It’s hard to talk about tracking the ROI of social media until you know what “it” is.

To help you define what social media is so it does not end up being “Golden Vaporware” where your business is concerned, start out with some limited trials and experimentation first, before launching any large-scale projects. From the initial trial results, you can make a determination on how to proceed and then develop specific goals and plans, before committing a lot of additional time, resources and budget.

Below are several questions to consider. The answers should help you define social media in the context of your business. Is “it” a (an) …

  1. Technology? What are the salient technology components required to drive your social media deployment plans – i.e. hardware, software, Web 2.0 services, etc.?
  2. Application? What communication or business problem does social media solve and how should it be applied to improve business results?
  3. Enabler? How can social media enable you and your employees to be more productive, operate more efficiently and cost effectively, and improve performance?
  4. Media? How can social media help you to “get the word out”, create brand awareness, interact with various communities of interest, drive more quality leads, etc.?
  5. Channel? Can social media allow you to tap into new markets, reduce time-to-market, forge new strategic partnerships, control or eliminate sales costs?

Social media can be all of the above and more, that is what makes it so appealing to businesses of all sizes. However, before you jump into the social media tide pool, do your research upfront. Define it, test it, develop clear goals and plans, and then determine the relevant ROI metrics in order to measure and track results.

Above all, keep things in perspective. Social media is top of mind for many businesses today, but it’s not the end-all, be-all some people are making it out to be. So, proceed with caution as you begin to invest in social media or any other new initiative for that matter. Make sure you have a clear picture of what “it” is, so you can fully capitalize on the inherent benefits of social media as you move ahead.

Enjoy the journey!


COPYRIGHT © 2011 John Carroll