Friday, February 20, 2009

Do we want to increase our business opportunities? Lets educate and standardize…

Today I heard about a couple of very interesting posts, relevant to a topic I seem to be discussing frequently in the last few weeks:  the importance to drive a better understanding, particularly among high level marketing executives, of Social Media:  what is it? what are the potential applications?  what is the impact it can have on business objectives? 

Quoting a few data elements of the magnificent post (and associated survey & research) by Jennifer Leggio published just yesterday: 

  • 77% of the respondents indicated they understand social Media very well or well enough to get by; but 81.9% would be willing to attend training.
  • 97.4% indicated that it is extremely or somewhat important for an agency to show proven understanding of how social media strategies apply to business; however 80% of agency recommendations seem to be centered in tools versus strategies. (which in my humble opinion shows those agencies don’t quite get it) 

Let’s complement that with some data published at Marketing Sherpa which indicates that:

  •  “The most significant barrier to social media adoption named by 46% of respondents to a MarketingSherpa survey is ‘lack of knowledgeable staff’ ” while  43% indicate the “inability to measure ROI” as the second one. 

Pointing out three key points out of the above:  

  • We (Social Media Professionals) have a lot to gain by focusing efforts on the education of our potential clients (particularly executives, but also staff). We would effectively open the flood gates for business opportunities. 
  • We have a lot to gain by standardizing our language and metrics; which will render as one of its results the creation of benchmarks that in turn can be used to demonstrate effectiveness and compare results of one social media effort versus another. (thus advancing in tackling the ROI point) 
  • We need to demand deeper instrumentation and better reporting tools from the major social networks we normally use to execute our efforts; thiswill equip us to better execute in our social media efforts and measure more effectively their ROI impact.

What do you think? 

Filiberto Selvas 


Maistora said...

Good points! I wholeheartedly agree but (while reluctant to be the bringer of bad news), have some concerns:

- I am rather sceptical on the prospects of establishing a common language and standards. In an industry where all(!) gurus are self-proclaimed (its very nature dictates it), they are trying hard to out-guru each other and not inclined to collaborate. Deliberately using non-standard language, they seek to 'copyright' their version and impose it on others,as a form of asserting that they 'invented the wheel'.

This has happened with all business approaches/methods/tools on the up-hill side of the hype cycle. On the wide-adoption plateau (through the influence of storng sources succeeding to muscle-out others) language and standards get established - but in some cases (like CRM!) even on the decline side of the curve, the 'industry' remains fragmented, lacking consensus and speaking many languages.

- With SM professionals unlikely to become united (anytime soon), the major platforms will deploy instrumentation and metrics that are (a)either influenced by whoever is closest to their management, or (b)designed to suit their own objectives. There will be metrics, but they will please some of the people some of the time (like, e.g. with Search Marketing and Online Advertising).

- Education is the name of the game, we have always done it and are intensifying now. In the above light, however, every 'guru' will be educating their clients to a different language, sometimes: a different discipline altogether! Increasing our business opportunities (your title) will depend on our clients' loyalty and our own influence equity (but business has always depended upon those :) In the meantime, speaking different languages (depending on who taught them), operating companies will keep entire sectors (and the economy as a whole) fragmented on the SM subject, making wide standards (nearly) impossible.
_ _ _

Being a 'bottle-and-a half' optimist, I am not saying this is going to happen - just pointing to the potholes on the road to a bright future :)

Filiberto Selvas said...

You make really good points; and I think those actually strengthen the argument I was making; on the aspect of: will competing professionals collaborate? Believe me, we are trying hard!

I do agree with the difficulties and consequences if we don’t act properly; I do believe it should be sensible to see we are actually damaging our own market and hampering its growth. (cell phone standards anyone?)

Filiberto Selvas