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Special Social Secret Sauce – Improving Social Media ROI

by Randall Craig on March 9, 2011

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management, Social Media, Strategy

Tagged as: , , ,

Despite the frenzy everywhere else, many senior executives look at their corporate Social Media initiatives, and wonder why there isn’t a better return on their investment.  Many marketers, despite implementing clever campaigns, secretly worry about the same thing.

Here’s the question:  is there some special social secret sauce that can dramatically improve results every time?  The answer is yes – sort of.  Here are three ideas:

1) Create the baseline, not the campaign: There needs to be an ongoing, low-level effort to grow engagement over the long term.  This baseline group of people are the ones who will amplify any specific campaign: the bigger the baseline, the greater the multiplier effect.  Of course, the objectives of any campaign should include to grow the baseline.

2) Three levels of engagement – Industry, Corporate, and Individual: The impact of any message – and the level of engagement – can be traced directly to the congruency between industry strategy, specific corporate Social Media strategy, and individual strategy. Too often, corporate Social Media campaigns neglect the impact that the employee group can make.  Or they duplicate (or ignore) what an industry association is doing.  Very often, industry associations have no idea what they could/should be doing, so they fail to move the needle in their market at all.  While it is not as “sexy” as designing a social media campaign, professional marketers must manage “up” and encourage industry initiatives, and manage “down” to empower/engage their own workforce.

3) Don’t chase the shiny object: Just about anything is possible, but too often organizations are seduced by the new.  They forget to tie their Social Media investment directly back to their business objectives: what impact will the initiative have on new leads, sales, customer service, new candidate recruitment, etc?  Starting with a goal in mind is a great way to focus on results, instead of the shiny object.

There are other ingredients in the secret sauce, but these three go a long way to amplifying the message, and leveraging the investment.

This week’s action plan: Think of the three levels of engagement, and how you are personally using Social Media.  Are you using the tools as a professional, or only for entertainment?  This week, look for the discussion groups, wikis, and blogs that will move your career forward in your area of expertise, and spend some time there.  Hint:  Check your professional association and your corporate Social Media sites – if they’re doing their jobs, this is a great place to start.

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Randall Craig


Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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