Saturday, 1 June 2013

Cri de coeur: Embrace social media. Think, act and be social, then measure the impact of social media activities #sm


When, as social media advocates, we embark on the crusade to mainstream social media in our respective businesses, we are probably asked why is this "social media" business so important and how can we measure and show the  impact of our activities.

I guess the best answer to this question, is to assess the level of investment. So here is a rough list of questions to assess how serious is your organization in investing in and embracing social media:
  • do you have a cadre of bloggers?
  • do you have a social media officer for Facebook, one for Twitter, one for Pinterest and Instagram, one for G+, one for YouTube, Vimeo and Blip?, one for LinkedIn? 
  • do you have your social media plan in place? 
  • are you making conscious decision when to use which social media channel and for what? 
  • do you have your multilingual, locally sourced viral content lined up and ready to be disseminated on different channels?

If you have answered YES to all or some of the above, then you are well positioned to measure the impact of your social media activities, because you:
  • have mastered that social media is a tool to develop a brand familiarity, build engagement and give you organization’s a human face
  • have mastered how and when to use the different social media channel 
  • have a clear idea what works for you and are using social media to support the mission of your organization 
  • have kept social media in-house and have made it the day job of your staff 
  • are creating quality and viral content and also curating content
  • are disseminating facts, figures, infographics, cartoons, pictures and engaging with the virtual audience
  • have embraced and instilled a digital culture in your organization. In other words, all staff are contributing to the social media channels, they are actively blogging, tweeting and also participating in on-line conversations.

And as a result your social media activities are having an awesome impact; you are engaging with and having a conversation with your audience; your message are being amplified; there is much more awareness about your issues; more people know about the work of your organization and they  are contributing to fund raising initiatives of the organization.

I am sure there are lots of folks out there that are achieving all the above with a skeleton staff and perhaps with no budget.

So just imagine how much more impact your communication efforts would have, if we were to adequately resource the social media arm of our communication operations.

I believe today, even the skeptics have come to terms with the fact that:
  • social media is a powerful tool in the communicator’s toolbox 
  • it is fast and furious
  • it offers numerous opportunities and has an incredible multiplier effect
We’re coming to terms with the fact that:
  • blogs are a useful way of influencing and shaping opinions 
  • HASHTAGs are the new taglines
  • campaigns not only have moved to the virtual world, but sometimes start there
  • we are no longer pitching but having a conversations and people are sharing their views in the language and the way they feel most comfortable – that is why they SHARE
  • ROI has become ROE - return on ENGAGEMENT

So what does this all of this mean in terms of measuring the impact of social media activities? and what exactly should we be measuring?  and what should we be doing to have the desired impact?

People-centred measurement – SROI, rather than ROI
Measuring impact of social media means, measuring how PEOPLE have interacted and engaged with your content. This is why it is a two-way communication.

I guess the question we should be asking ourselves is how can we to have Nick Kristoff put two Facebook status updates in less than an hour on rural development and agriculture-related issues.

This why the quality of content is paramount – and this comes as no surprise. To make an impact, we need to create emotionally engaging and “viral content”.

This means we probably need to spend 50% of our time on the idea and 50% on how to spread the content, Typically viral content is:
  • authentic, shows the organization’s heart, is emotionally engaging, pays tribute to  and entertains your audience, and shows you care about your audience and shows that you’ve created content that is relevant to them
  • simple and jargon free
  • one that takes a stand and has a call to action 
Once we know what we want to achieve, know who we need to attract, what actions we want people to take, and we have our emotionally engaging and “viral content”, then we can measure the impact of our social media activities and we can do it in terms of:
  • how is our audience sharing the content?
  • are our tweets being retweeted and by whom, are people marking our tweets as favourites? 
  • are people replying to our posts and tweets? 
  • are people posting on our wall and commenting on our posts? 
  • is our audience clicking on the links? Are our links spreading organically?   
  • is our content influencing others, are they talking about it? And what percentage of mentions goes to our brand and what to our competitors? Are we talking to the right people?
  • are we listening to what our audience is saying? 
  • are people downloading our documents? Do they attend our virtual events? Is our audience responding to our call to action? 
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY Are we feeding the voices of our audience into decision-making process? 
Embrace social, Be social, Think social, Act social
Social media may not have penetrated in all parts of the world, but it definitely has penetrated amongst and between today’s decision and policy makers and more importantly it is the way of life for tomorrow’s decision and policy makers.

It is true that the people we work with and serve may not use social media or have access to it, however, this does not mean that we should not be using these channels to advocate on their behalf and share their stories with on-line community and raise awareness about their realities.

As a social media junkie, I believe ignoring this new communication paradigm is no longer an option
Here are my FOUR calls to action:
  • THINK SOCIAL, ACT SOCIAL and BE SOCIAL and for this we need to change the way we work. To start with, let’s mainstream crowdsourcing as part of our business
  • I am sure you’ll agree that producing 140 page highly technical documents which needs to get translated in all our official languages is  an expensive proposition.  Let’s convert the complex concepts of the 140 page report into 140 characters and do so without using jargon and even better do it visually
  • For the speech writers: Think of how your soundbites can travel on social media. Dare I ask think in 140 characters
  • Last but not least, take risks. In the fast and furious world of social media, there is little or no room to ask for permission and pay tribute to and celebrate your social media activist and colleagues

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