Social Media requires a coordinated effort and understanding

So I continue to see more B2C and B2B companies deploying social computing technologies just want to be part of this whole web thing, which many don’t even recognize as social media only perceived as a necessity for success. Damn you Ad Age! The most recent reminder of this was a comment of “we gotta be on [tag]facebook[/tag]” from a friend about his business, but really didn’t know what he meant which is why he rang me up. Next he’s going to ask me about [tag]second life[/tag] or twitter. As an aside, Twitter was featured on a CSI show a couple of weeks ago and clearly was not explained well and this type of random reference will continue to drive a tactic oriented approach to online activity.

I spent some time asking my friend about his product, his target demographic and other buyer class attributes.   He explained the his demographic so far from over 2000 orders is typically a female suburbanite over 35 and their pre-launch demographics indicate they typically a master’s degree with a household income north of $150K. Not a typical facebook user, but what the heck – more people are joining everyday and the recent investment and gabillion dollar valuation is changing the mix everyday.
Based other research his team has done he indicated the product requires multiple touches and education.   After talking some more he did say and interesting thing is happening where a given instance of the product is sold, clusters are beginning to develop geographically.   He was clearly under the impression that “word of mouth” is driving the clustering, so after explaining groups, social networks and other general social media concepts he went back and out a plan for how to use facebook after he browsed around.

So what did he decide to do?  He created a group on facebook and invited his customers.     The group immediately received 6 customer friends and every day is gets at least 3 new randoms everyday.   After a month of Facebooking, his website analytics and sales are showing promise based on this effort.

This truly begs the question of how do you effectively use social media for a given company or product?   Here is an excerpt from a forrester report by [tag]Charlene Li[/tag] and [tag]Josh Bernoff[/tag] which I have been thinking about and collecting data on for a while, albeit anecdotal, but the recent post on travelers, reminded me to return to this concept and below is the excerpt from the original piece in April:

Many companies approach [tag]social computing[/tag] as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed – a blog here, a podcast there – to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for. Forrester categorizes social computing behaviors into a ladder with six levels of participation; we use the term “Social Technographics” to describe analyzing a population according to its participation in these levels. Brands, Web sites, and any other company pursuing social technologies should analyze their customers’ [tag]Social Technographics[/tag] first, and then create a social strategy based on that profile.

Not only is effective delivery of a social media strategy based on metrics and knowing your customer, it needs to be one of relevant tactics which encourage community:

So if I think about survey above, this has a little “dewey win’s” feel to it, since it is a % of a % of a segment who buy online, which is minimally transferable to the general population and may not capture the REAL influence of social media effectively, but at least SOMEONE is trying to quantify in an objective way. The graph below is what drove me to the Dewey concept which indicates a significant segment of the popluation are apple users, or in the Dewey scenario, telephone users:

While there is a little dewy in this, it clearly validates that random social media tactics, such as just getting on Facebook or setting up a blog because you “have to” typically will not drive conversions for online sales and may in fact be a big time sink which causes frustration.

Back to my friend, his company has had a blog since launch, but the traffic was minimal which over time resulted in less posting and a near abandoment of the blog – not the case now, but this is what can happen if you look at it from a technology perspective and not a way to coordinate awareness, interest and demand. Now with the new multi-channel approach he has seen a growth in blog traffic, increased reader consumption of the RSS feed and online sales growth.

Somewhere I lost the point and this has become a “captain obvious” post, so I’ll close on the following sound bites:

  • Online tactics do not equal an online strategy.
  • A social computing platform deployment doesn’t mean you are doing what you should be doing.
  • You have to link your business goals, social media efforts and strategy to planned out tactics
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  • Reply Mei Lin Fung December 15, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Dear Captain Obvious

    You are pointing out the elephant in the room that the lemmings are running around.

    Terrific post – I’m citing and quoting you in my blog at

    Professionals Earn Customer Trust

    It’s a Zoo out there in the social media jungle

    Mei Lin

  • Reply G December 16, 2007 at 4:46 am

    Mei Lin,

    thanks for the thoughtful comment, back to herding lemmings. Cheers!

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