My Counter-Rant on Social Media ROI

David Meerman Scott posted a podcast rant against demands for assessing the specific ROI of social media efforts. Here is my podcast push-back on that rant.


In short: Asking how social media can generate value for the company or organization is a perfectly valid question. Any social media advocate or expert has to embrace answering that question if they want to gain support from decision makers. It doesn’t have to be in dollars and cents but it must be answered in the context of how it contributes to the organization’s goals, strategy and operations.

And thanks to David for stirring the pot on this issue!

The Best Way to Increase the Perceived Value of Your Online Identity

Post more original content than links to other people’s content.

I see a lot of people on Twitter and in blog posts sharing dozens of links a day to other people’s content. Some of it is even good! However, if your goal is to enhance your own perceived value online, you’ll get a better return from posting your own ideas.

Good content from you (in blogs, LinkedIn answers, tweets, etc.) will draw people to you over the long term. This is much higher value traffic than what you get by sharing links because they are coming to see what you have to say about something.

A sure sign that you are posting too many links? You label some of them as “Must Read.” If you do that, why are you sharing the others?

Social Media People: Less Agita, More Action

I’ve seen quite a few posts lately from social media specialists complaining about the lack of stature, engagement and respect they have within their organizations.

Here’s the thing folks: respect is earned. No one is going to give it to you by dint of your job description or the number of followers you have on Twitter. They will give it you when you help them create value, when you help them to achieve their goals, when you make their job easier.

If you spend all your time telling people they are ‘doing social media’ wrong, you’ll never get anywhere. Spend your time helping people to achieve their goals and you will earn respect if successful.

Here’s another thing: you don’t need everyone to ‘get it.’ All you need is one person to believe in your ability to help them. Start there, maximize their results, and then tell that story around your organization. Over time, you’ll have strong support and respect.

Believe me, I’ve been there. As an early web pioneer in associations, I used to gnash my teeth about people not getting it. Once I let go of that and focused on creating results with those who would partner with me, life got easier, I did my job better, and ultimately earned significant respect within the organization.

Here’s a final thing: even if you are genuinely being held back by the man, complaining about it online isn’t going to help!

More action, less agita.

Social Media on the Job Search

I was quoted yesterday in an article on CareerBuilder about the role of social media in job searches: Social Media on the Job Search.

Naturally, the visibility that could potentially ruin your career could also be what gives you one in the first place. David Gammel, author of “Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results,” sees the value in social media’s prominence when used for good.

“If you have posted lots of content under your identity that enhances your qualifications, it will show up high in search results and benefit how you are perceived,” Gammel says. “If that content is unprofessional or otherwise at odds with the job you are pursuing, it may stop you in your tracks.”

Although social media is an asset, it’s yet to become the definitive way to land a position, he says.

“The best way to find a new job is still through a personal referral from someone who trusts you to someone who trusts them,” Gammel says. “Social media might be used for communicating, but it won’t create that trust. Good old-fashioned relationships will do that.”

I learned a long time ago that the purpose of a cover letter is to get them to read your resume. The purpose of the resume is to get the interview. The purpose of the interview is to convince them you are the best person for the job. The role of social media in all that should be, at a minimum, to do no harm to your progression through those steps. At its best, it may accelerate getting to the interview.

In short, I think that no presence on social media is neutral for most jobs, while an unprofessional presence may disqualify you. Strong professional content posted by you can certainly help but I doubt would seal the deal for anyone.

What is social media good for?

I saw an update on Twitter this morning that asked plaintively: what is social media good for?

It is so easy to get buried in the daily details, drudgery and distraction of social media that it is very easy to lose sight of what you hope to achieve with it.

The simple truth is this: you have to identify your desired outcomes and then focus with great discipline on achieving those outcomes with social media tools and techniques. Ignore everything else. Ignore check lists that say “you must do X of these on Facebook and Y of those on Twitter otherwise you are doing it wrong!” because usually only a few of those tasks are relevant to your goals.

If you are creating value for your desired outcomes with social media then you are doing it right in my book.

If you aren’t creating value (or can’t tell!): take a break. Take a few steps back. Redefine the goals you hoped to achieve and then look at your current activities with new eyes. Focus on just those things that are likely to advance you toward your goals and drop the rest. You’ll be more effective and do so in less time.

Creating the Complete Social Media Experience for Your Meetings and Events

I am presenting a webinar with Boston Conferencing/Peach New Media next Tuesday at 12 Noon. The title is Creating the Complete Social Media Experience for Your Meetings and Events: Effective Practices from the Leading Edge of Association Social Media. From the description:

Learn how to plan and implement the complete social media experience for your next event, conference or meeting in this unique webinar. C. David Gammel, CAE, will lead us through the entire process from beginning to end, helping you to identify the specific value you wish to create with social media at your events and how to make it happen. David will share cases and examples from associations and others who have effectively used social media to enhance their meetings and events.

Should be a fun program, hope to see you there!

Starting a New Collaborative Space for Small Groups

I fielded a question last week about what factors are the most important in launching a wiki to support a small working group, such as a committee, task force or team. I’ve decided to address it a bit more broadly by looking those factors for online collaboration in general.

In my experience designing and facilitating collaborative spaces online for large and small association, volunteer groups, alumni and others, you need the following to maximize successful outcomes:

  • Have a very clear and focused goal for using the space that all participants understand and support. The narrower the better;
  • Provide ample handholding and individual training for those who need it;
  • Leadership of the group MUST be avid champions for using the technology;
  • Start with one group that is excited to use the tool as a pilot test and early exemplars. Their success will draw others to adopt the tool;
  • Make sure the technology you use is very user friendly and provides the functionality your group will need to achieve their desired outcomes. Bad tech is the kiss of death.

Tools like a wiki can be greatly valuable for group collaboration but people who are new to it must have the value for THEM explained and heavily emphasized. A really strong WIIFM value proposition will get late adopters over the hump.

From Twitter to My Coffee Cup

Tim Cureton runs the best coffee shops on the Eastern Shore of Maryland: Rise Up Coffee. His staff are friendly, remember the names of frequent customers, and serve up a great cup of organic coffee.

Tim has been adding some social media to his marketing mix and I follow his updates on Twitter. Last week Tim posted a request to submit reviews for his store on Yelp.

Given that I’m huge fan of theirs, I went to Yelp, created an account and submitted a nice review for the Salisbury location.

A friend who often picks up a drink for me at Rise Up came by my house a couple days later with a latte. Tim, who recognizes my drink order, wrote a nice thank you note on the side of the cup.

(Tim mistakenly called me John for a while, which is now a running joke.)

Here is the thing: social media as a marketing and relationship building channel only works for Tim and his company because they have a fantastic product and a maniacal focus on customer service. Tim has built a great culture in his small company and works hard to keep it and their product peforming at the highest levels.

Effectively using social media and online word of mouth to grow your company is pretty easy when you have a fantastic product. If you don’t offer exception value, social media may not provide strong returns for you.

Two Events and a Survey for Association Executives

Here are two events and a survey that will be of interest to some association executives.

Association Election Trends

Votenet is conducting a survey on association elections with the intent to “identify association election trends such as average voter turnout, election processes, types of elections, promotion methods for elections and challenges to running a voting event.” Everyone who completes the survey will receive a copy of the results and analysis.

Avectra Demo Day

Avectra is holding a free demo day this Friday. The event includes several panel presentations and demos from technology companies. Free to attend but you have to register via the web site.

Buzz 2009

A social media conference for association executives, featuring Guy Kawasaki, Andy Sernovitz and others. Scheduled for July 9 in DC.

Hear Me: Podcast and Webinar

A couple free resources for you on a lovely Thursday afternoon.

First up, my second podcast interview with Sue Pelletier is up on the Face2Face blog. We tackle lots of issues around social media and events, including back channels, blogging, and if a blog will put your event out of business (answer: no).

Next Tuesday I’m leading a webinar on using data to drive membership marketing for associations.

The presentation is part of the Avectra Academy series and is free to attend. I’ve been told there has been a huge response to this one, which makes all sorts of sense. I’ll share why NOW is the best time to be a marketer ever (really!) and how associations can benefit from using data to focus their marketing rather than spamming the hell out of everyone in your database. Hope to see you there!