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With all of the fancy tools and sophisticated strategies, sometimes we forget how easy it is to make a mistake – and not of the typographical variety. From time to time, it is a good practice to go back to first principles, and make sure that what we are doing today actually makes sense.

Seven first principles:

1) The don’t care.  Prospects don’t care about you, but only care about how you can solve their problem. This means that your posts need to be relevant and valuable to your prospects. (Are they, really? Have you asked?)

2) Social Media for business is not personal Social Media time. If you have one hour of time per day, then this should be filled with activities that improve awareness, drive sales, or improve client service. Each activity literally needs to “audition”: if it doesn’t make the cut, then stop doing it.

3) Consistency: Users crave consistency, and organizations are rewarded with increased followers, comments, and shares when consisency exists. Other channels have known this for years: there is a reason that TV news is always on at the same time every night, and that the morning newspaper (remember those?) always comes out in the morning.

4) Don’t ignore your main website: The ultimate goal of most social media investments is to drive users to your own site. But what happens next? Make sure that the site is built to “convert” to the next step on the user’s journey to commitment. And from a technology perspective, the site should be built on a social platform, so that content can automatically syndicate outwards, and into your social network.

5) Monitoring: Beyond looking for opportunities, monitoring can identify potential risks early. Monitoring can be as easy as setting up Hootsuite and Google Alerts for key terms.

6) Measurement: If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Nor can you optimize your efforts and investment. Given the very significant amount of data that is available within the social sites (and your own site), executing a plan without data-driven mid-course corrections is both financially wasteful and competitively stupid.

7) Don’t ignore the non-social: Just because you are on social media, doesn’t mean that all of your audience is. Or that all of your audience is on aparticular Social Media platform. Social Media must compete with other marketing initiatives for your time and budget.

This week’s action plan: Has your level of sophistication “elevated” you away from these basics? This week, evaluate yourself on each of them: are you doing as well as really could be doing? Or perhaps there is one that you could be doing better on. (So do something about it.)


Facebook just announced that it now has one billion users – an astounding number. On the other hand, you (or your organization) may have but 1000 or 10,000 – hardly a dent, and at best, a rounding error.

Whether your number is on the lower side or hovering at a billion, this singular measure of “success” is of little value, and at best misleading. Here are two reasons why.

  • How many of those users are actually active? How often does each person actually sign in, let alone “engage”? Facebook uses statistics called Monthly Active Users and Daily Active Users: but what does “Active” really mean?  “Activity level” is a useful statistic only if it is defined, and transparent.
  • What are those who do log in actually doing? They are posting the inane details of their lives, reading the inane details of others’ lives, and playing games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. So-called “F-Commerce” has turned out to be a dud – no one seems to be setting up stores and when they do, no one is buying. Engagement level by activity is a far better statistic. Sales and profitability are also not bad numbers to track.

McDonald’s also once celebrated Billions Served. Eventually they also figured out that people cared more about taste, healthfulness, clean restaurants, and speed. They also determined that an emotional brand connection was more powerful than just numbers.

The most important statistic is whether the effort being spent is driving the results your organization requires.

  • If your goal is greater awareness, then track the increase in number of likes, shares and friends.
  • If your goal is increased number of leads, then track newsletter sign-ups and white paper downloads.
  • If your goal is increased sales, then yes, track sales, and do it by source.

Is a billion users a significant milestone? Absolutely. Does it matter? Not in the least.

The week’s action plan: What numbers do you track in social media? More importantly, what numbers do you track in your business? This week, ask if they make sense; if they don’t, then choose measures that do.

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Randall Craig

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