Matter Chatter

Social media: think “why” before “how”

Amber Naslund, the director of community at Radian 6, posted a story over at Marketing Sherpa last week called “Measuring Social Media’s Contribution to the Bottom Line: 5 Tactics”. (This story is useful, as is most of Amber’s stuff, so if you’re not already following her, you should be.) Measurement is something we talk about a lot around these parts – amongst ourselves, with our clients and with industry peers. It’s a historically tough nut to crack for PR pros and social media has made the formula even more complex. Watch this space for more on the measurement topic from me in the coming weeks.


Today, though, I’m taking a step further back from measuring social media to look at the decision of when is it (actually, “are they” is more accurate I suppose) an appropriate path for an organization to explore. My initial thoughts are summed up in my comment to Amber’s story, which you can check out below. (Another topic you’ll hear me start to bang on about is efficiency, so I’m taking the opportunity to avoid wheel reinvention by re-purposing my own words here!)


Very good stuff, indeed, Amber. One thing I’d add (realizing you weren’t trying to do everything in one article!) is that organizations need to take a hard look at whether they are the type of business that should be embracing social media from a cultural / philosophic standpoint.


For example, is Virgin considered a customer-centric business that drives loyalty b/c of how well they do social media? Or is it that customer-centricity is at the core of the Virgin business, so they naturally do social media well (further benefiting both their customers and the business)?


A related element to this is understanding and accepting what social media is good for (and, hence, really should be measured against). Your mileage will vary depending on whether you are all about customer acquisition or if you place an emphasis on lifetime customer value.


Probably seems self-evident / blindingly obvious, but too many companies rush into the “let’s use to social media to drive sales” mindset without first taking a look at whether what social media requires and delivers fits with their core business philosophy and strategy.

What do you think? Is social media right for every company? What should the criteria be?

  • V Boynton

    In my experience, any company considering social engagement should ask themselves three questions: Does our audience use social media? Do we have something unique and/or meaningful to offer our audience by creating a social presence? And, Do we have the time / staff to support this effort?

    The first question can be answered by a little bit of research to see whether the brand or industry (niche as it may be) is being discussed in blogs, microblogs and social networks. The second question is a little more introspective – they have to consider their actual strengths and weaknesses, as well as their willingness to become nearly (if not wholly) transparent online. The last question is simple – social engagement is full-time, and it requires either a dedicated staff member or a small network of support (whether in-house or mixed with outside support). And one piece of new content a week won’t cut it – different platforms require different levels of activity. Any company considering jumping in should be clear on the necessities, potential successes or potential challenges of each platform. Good thing there’s a company like Matter around :)

  • Jesse Ciccone

    Right on. And I’d add a fourth question to the list…what are we hoping to achieve? Awareness, loyalty, sales, engagement, advocacy, reduced costs? Depending on your market and customers, social media COULD help in any and all of these areas, but probably not all at once. Have to establish your goals and metrics upfront to conduct meaningful measurement down the road.