The age of social media as “wow” and “gee whiz” is almost at an end. Thank *.deity. I’m tired of mapping conversations. I’m sick of people asking me to make things go viral. Here’s what’s next, friends and critics: a return to the desk. That’s right. A real job. Social media as a tool and not as a fancy shiny object.
Let’s not get too literal here. I’m a workshifter and don’t usually visit a specific desk too often. But what I mean is this: social media is a set of tools and tactics that people use as part of their larger business communications efforts. They are functions of a job, not something shiny that hides off on a magical island away from the job. They are part of a job function, not a standalone vocation.
Your mileage may vary in 2009, but let’s see where things are by the end of 2010.
Let’s get right to it: measuring how many people commented on a blog post shows you that people are engaging. Unless you’re looking for awareness-only, all you’ve measured is that someone has commented on the blog post. Views of a YouTube video? Same thing. Hits on a blog or website? Same.
Measure what you need to change. Sales? Subscriptions? Trials? Whatever the next action is you need to accomplish through your communications effort, make that measurement (which you’re already measuring for your traditional business communications needs) the same number to track.
If you’re doing PR and you need more coverage from the blog world, excellent. Then make that just another channel that you devote efforts to, and then make sure that these tie back into however you’re measured. If you’re doing internal communications, then use these tools as an alternative to email, or a more engaging way to promote two-way conversations, or anything but a sideshow novelty to check off a box on the “we’re cool too” report.
Essentially, make the numbers matter to the business, not to what social media does and doesn’t cover.
What are people doing taking titles like “Social Media Manager?” To me, this is a scary thing. Why? Because it’s like being the fax manager or the email manager. You’re naming yourself after a tool.
The jobs where you might use social media tools exist in the marketing department, in the PR department, in customer service, and in several other parts of the company. But use the titles that exist.
The functions? Focus on what your company needs most. By the way, that’s advice to everyone at all times. No matter your title, do your job well, but FOCUS on what your company needs most. It’s how I got through my career so far.
Rise Up and Buckle Down
Maybe this sounds ranty. Maybe it is. I guess my big point is that we’ve got to shift this from “gee whiz” to “this is what we do to build business relationships.”
Push away from meaningless metrics and point your efforts towards moving the bottom line. It’s absolutely imperative that this become a “real” job instead of something cool.
Are you with me?
photo credit foundphotoslj