1 – Providing social media training/workshops/speaking
2 – Social media consulting
When I say ‘consulting’, I mean literally. I’m one of the few people that bills themselves as a ‘social media consultant’ that actually goes in and evaluates what companies are currently doing with social media, and advises them on a future course of action. I do very little content creation and implementation, simply because that’s usually not the best use of my time.
As part of my consulting, I am usually contacted by one of two sources:
1 – Someone in upper-management or the owner/CEO of the company. Usually, this company has not started using social media yet, and wants me to tell them if it would make good business sense for them to do so. There is normally a healthy bit of skepticism coming from this group about if this ‘social media stuff’ will work for them at all.
2 – Someone usually known as ‘the social media guy’ in the company. Normally, they took the initiative and launched a blog/Facebook/etc presence for the company, and now they want me to evaluate their efforts and see where they can improve. They understand the power of social media as a way to connect and interact with customers, but are having difficulty moving the business needle with their social media efforts. Often it’s a case where the boss has told them to ‘show me the money’ from their efforts, or else their efforts are going to go away.
So if you are in the second group, you need to be able to convince the boss that social media will work for your company. Which means you need to show him or her how your business will BENEFIT from using social media. We’ve talked before about how your boss does not care about ‘the conversation’, s/he cares about bottom line impact. So until you can either show that from existing efforts, or make a compelling case for adopting social media usage to impact the bottom line, then you’re likely not going to be doing much with social media.
So how do you get there? First, you need to craft a solid strategy that justifies and explains which social media tactics are best for your company. We’ve covered that before, so I won’t get into it again here.
Second, you need to be able to show the boss that your social media efforts are working in terms and metrics that SHE values and understands!
Let’s say the boss gave you the go-ahead on launching a blog 3 months ago. You’re walking by her office when she calls out to you and asks you to come in her office. Then she says ‘So how’s the blog doing?’
Here’s how you could answer that question:
A – ‘Pretty good! We are getting a lot of interaction on the blog, comments on almost every post, and some really great discussions! Also, traffic seems to be improving!’
– Terrible answer. This shows the boss that the blog is your hobby and you aren’t taking it seriously at all. Don’t be surprised if the blog doesn’t make it to the 4th month.
B – ‘Pretty good! We are averaging 5 comments per post, our number of feed subscribers is up 15% from last month, and traffic to the blog is up 22% from last month!’
– Not a terrible answer, but not a great one, either. This shows the boss that you are paying attention to the numbers, but also that you are paying attention to the wrong numbers. (Note: Yes, interaction is terribly important on the blog. But most bosses don’t care so much about interaction, as they do the actual impact that the blog is having on their business. So to the boss, those are the ‘wrong’ numbers)
C – ‘Pretty good! Our number of email and feed subscribers is up 18% from last month, and traffic to the blog is up 22% during the same time frame. Also, 10% of our daily traffic is now going to the website from the blog! And of that referral traffic, 5% resulted in an email newsletter signup from the website!’
– Now we are getting somewhere. Now you are showing the boss that the blog is working, but that it is also sending traffic to your website as well. You’ve gotten the boss’ attention, and the blog will likely get to survive, assuming you can continue to build on what you’ve started.
D – ‘Excellent! Traffic to the blog has grown an average of 25% a month since launch. Additionally, we are now sending roughly 10% of our daily traffic to the website AND 7% of that traffic is resulting in sales on the website. Also, thanks to the posts on the blog, total online mentions of our company have increased by 27% in the last three months, with 64% of those additional mentions being positive! Before the blog, 52% of all online mentions for our company were positive.’
– Excellent answer. You are able to make a case for the success of the blog, and back it up with numbers and metrics that matter to the boss. You’ve shown her that it can drive traffic to the site, and then get sales from that traffic. She’ll likely want to talk to you about boosting that 7% sales from referral traffic number, but that’s a discussion for later. Also, by pointing out the improvement in total online mentions and percentage of positive mentions, you’ve shown her the PR and SEO value of the blog. But again, now that you have some numbers, she’ll want to see improvement in both.
At the end of the day, you’ve shown her that the blog has the potential to improve her business. You might get a raise, and maybe more people to help you, as well.
So how do you get to this point?
Understand that the ultimate success of your social media efforts will hinge on two areas:
1 – Generating business (increasing sales)
2 – Improving the efficiency of existing business processes (lowering costs)
I’ll leave you with that to think about, and we’ll go into those areas in more depth in the next post. But for those of you that are either wanting to pitch social media usage to your boss, or are currently managing a social media effort, view your social media efforts through the eyes of your boss. What business impact is the boss looking for? Again, being able to point to 5 comments per post is great, as long as you can make the boss understand why those comments HELP her business. As long as you can show that value is being created as a result of that interaction, then you’ve got something.
But if you can’t, then in her eyes all you’ve got is a lot of ‘wasted’ time talking to people on a blog. Something to think about.