Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Social Media Case Study You'll Never Hear About

Every morning for the last couple of months, the first thing that I reach for is my Blackberry, which sleeps comfortably on my night stand. I don't reach for my alarm because, annoyingly, I tend to wake up 10 minutes before it's set to go off. I reach for my Blackberry, and inevitably there is a little flashing red light signifying that I have email messages. Then I check Facebook and Twitter in a skimming kind of way, and then I begin my day.

Does your day start in a similar fashion?

Social Media seems to be everywhere these days, and its power and potential seem palpable. Every day there are case studies explaining how social media helped a start-up become a corporate giant. There are stories about how individuals went from a computer and phone to an industry leader. There is a different kind of success story available. It's not as sexy. It may not sound as exciting. But it's just as valuable.

The Zen of Standing Still

Late last year, we launched a Social Media services program we call ClayComm 2.0. There are two parts to it. The first part is research and the second part consists of various ways to implement an agreed upon Social Media strategy. We always recommend that our clients start with the research part before we begin any kind of implementation.

There is one story in particular that I want to tell you about.

One of our clients asked us to research what Social Media tactics should be pursued for their company. We ended up with research that suggested there just isn't a lot going on in this client's particular industry except for on YouTube, where there was a fair amount of relevant videos. We suggested keeping ears and eyes open on other channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, but we said that YouTube seemed to be the best place to start. Instead of investing a great deal of time in a Facebook strategy that would have taken an extremely long time to bear any benefits, we targeted our client's focus to something that would jump start their presence in social media. In the long haul, videos highlighting their particular strengths will be ideal building blocks for any type of Social Media campaign that follows.

The Difference Between Making Money and Saving Money

A lot of case studies point to a specific metric of improvement. We increased sales by x%. We grew by x%. There's of course nothing wrong with such measurements of success. You've probably noticed, though, that there is not a lot out there about companies who jumped on to Facebook or Twitter and then abandoned the accounts. It doesn't take much searching to find examples of these orphaned efforts. How much time and energy was invested in those accounts before the realization hit that it was not the right time or the right environment? What if a company hires a social media manager only to find that, as is the case sometimes, social media is just not as integral to that industry yet?

We advocate researching on the front end. Sometimes, the result will be that social media is just something we need to monitor. That's not to say that it will never happen. That's not to say that you can never be a pioneer. But we measure the risks on the front end, before the time (which we all know equates to money) is invested.

It's not the kind of success that is easy to point to. It's noticing what's not there -- a Facebook page with a few product promos, a company Twitter page with 3 tweets. It's using time, energy, and money wisely. It's the kind of success that can alter a company's path for the better, even if the hows and whys are not known from the start. There may not be an acronym for money saved through researched strategies, but perhaps there should be.

Have you experienced a similar kind of success? Feel free to share it here.

Image by Bethany Carlson. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bewinca


Nanci Murdock said...

Thanks for this. It would be great to hear a few of the success stories. I am in the process of launching a social media strategy to my ex-employer (a blog and twitter would be best), and it is going very well, but I can't keep showing them the Zappos book! I'm just kidding. There are quite a few examples out there of successful corporate blogs, but I never heard the story from the angle of the social media expert!

Dave Thackeray said...

The one thing that's often left unspoken by those is "do it, survive; don't do it, die."

Countless times lately have I come across wannabe clients who simply haven't given a passing thought to using social media marketing because business is ticking.

But it won't be, I moot. And that's when they glaze and I know hometime is calling...