TAG | viral

Social Media & The World

Social media is affecting the world in big ways, both good and bad. Just a few years ago, news didn’t travel as quickly as it now does through Twitter, Facebook, news aggregators, etc. Positively, this means we have access to world news in a matter of seconds, and we no longer have to wait for the evening news to catch up on daily occurrences (see: social media’s role in Egypt’s 2011 Revolution). Negatively, especially for those in the public eye, this means that nothing goes unreported, even private pictures sent through a site like Twitter (see: Anthony Weiner). We take a look at some ways social media is affecting the way we look at religion, sports and politics:

Religion: The Catholic Church has joined Facebook and Twitter. In June, The Vatican announced the launch of a social media-integrated official news website, news.va, that will make heavy use of social networks. Pope Benedict XVI himself sent out the first papal tweet. News.va will function essentially as a Vatican and Catholic Church-related news aggregator, republishing stories from L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television, the Fides news agency and from Vatican media relations. Livestreaming of Papal events will also be featured, along with links to homilies, statements, and speeches. Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese-language versions of the site will be launched over the next few months. Users will also be able to post links on Twitter and share stories on their Facebook walls.

Sports: The International Olympic Committee has issued rules for athletes using social media at the 2012 London Games. The athletes are encouraged to “post, blog and tweet their experiences,” but forbidden from using Twitter, Facebook or personal blogs for commercial or advertising purposes or to share videos filmed at Olympics venues. If the rules are broken, athletes are warned that it can withdraw accreditation, shut down online operations and start legal action for damages. These new social media rules come after some controversy at the 2010 Vancouver games, where US skier Julia Mancuso was asked to stop online merchandise sales after her silver medal-winning performances generated interest in her official website. Some of the other social media stipulations for London? Posts, blogs, etc. should be in first-person, should not contain vulgar or obscene words or images, and should not reveal confidential information. “Unlike in Vancouver, where the rules were adapted to fit changed circumstances, the rules in force in London have been properly codified,” the IOC said.

Politics: In mid-June, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., resigned from Congress in the wake of a sexting scandal. The move, which abruptly put an end to Weiner’s on-the-rise political career, serves as a warning to politicians and lawmakers about dealing with the social media world. To recap:  Reports indicated that a college student had received a sexually suggestive photo from Weiner’s Twitter account. Weiner denied sending it, saying the account had been hacked, but as more texts and photos of the congressman surfaced, Weiner finally admitted that he’d sent the photo. The story picked up and more revelations surfaced, including messages to a 17-year-old Delaware girl. Ultimately, Weiner sought a leave of absence and said he’d seek treatment. While Weiner isn’t the first politician to deal with a sex scandal, the incident reverberates as politicians grapple with the new world of social media. It should serve as a “serious warning sign to politicians,” said Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Minnesota, that that they need to be careful. “They send out this stuff unfiltered, so the risk is increased considerably,” Schier said.

In what other ways is social media changing the world? Tell us in the comments!

 

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Social Media Agencies

Since we’ve recently highlighted a few of our favorite social media case studies, this week we thought we’d bring attention to some top social media agencies and what they are doing. These are the agencies that are setting the bar high and implementing innovative social media marketing.

There are many types of social media companies; some are research focused, some feature a team of app developers, some are extending and developing upon tradition PR. The best social media agencies combine these skills and help companies extend their brands through training, long term strategy, and execution.

Mullen is a full-service modern advertising agency, with clients ranging from Fage Greek yogurt to the Department of Defense. National brands like Zappos, Olympus and Jet Blue have turned to Mullen for campaigns; last year, the social-media savvy JetBlue chose Mullen as its lead advertising and marketing agency.  The You Above All campaign  featured a full mix of media including online, social media, in-flight, print, and out-of-home components. For the social media portion of their campaign, the agency created a series of hidden camera scenarios called Ground Rules. The unscripted videos poke fun at other airlines’ service policies  by featuring real people in being deprived of things they’ve come to expect, such as legroom in a taxi and a full can of soda from a street vendor. The videos were primarily shown through a YouTube homepage takeover.

Ignite is a social media agency completely and exclusively focused on social media marketing. As opposed to PR and marketing firms that offer elements of social media marketing (like Mullen), Ignite’s team of tech, creative, account, and strategy professionals form a complete social media company, solely dedicated to the interactive and social media markets. Their work for Bing is one example of their success in the social media market.  Bing wanted a tab on their Facebook Page that would showcase the variety of what Bing Travel has to offer its fans. Ignite created a tab with a standardized background to tie all of the individual pieces together; each individual section engages the fan in a different aspect of Bing Travel. Fans can also share Bing Travel elements on other social networks, by retweeting Did You Know facts on Twitter, for example.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, an advertising agency based out of Miami, is known mostly for viral marketing techniques. Their Subservient Chicken campaign for Burger King was created to promote the chain’s TenderCrisp chicken sandwich and the “Have it Your Way” campaign.  Crispin created the “The Subservient Chicken” web page, on which a “chicken” performs actions based on user input, showing pre-recorded footage and appearing like an interactive webcam. The site is meant to capitalize on the slogan: “Get chicken just the way you like it”.

Have you come across any social media agencies doing some truly innovative work? Let us know in the comments!

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A successful Facebook promotion does more than get “liked” by fans. It is a powerful way to generate buzz, to engage existing fans and boost  fan count, to spark the interest of potential clients; ultimately, it is a way to grow your brand.

The most triumphant Facebook contests/promotions have a few characteristics in common:

  • Organization: In today’s social media- savvy world, just posting your contest on your Facebook wall and hoping for the best won’t get you very far. Approach your Facebook contest as you would a traditional media campaign. Have a plan of attack ready from the start: How many entries would you like, ideally? Or the flip side: If you get only five entries, will you be prepared to shut the contest down? In other words, what is your minimum and what is your maximum? If you spend $100 on a contest app and promotion, will you be happy with 20 new fans? 50? It takes work to maintain a Facebook contest; on the upside, you could gain hundreds of new fans and expand your company, but on the downside, you could seriously alienate your existing fans with poor response time and sloppy organization.
  • Prize: The easiest way to figure out what to give away? Poll your existing audience and ask them what prize justifies contest entry. This is free, and you’ll get, if nothing else, inspiration. Ultimately, you’ll want to give away something that you’d be excited to receive yourself. Brainstorm with your team, with friends, with family, and ask: What prize would be worth what we are asking you to do? No one is going to submit a video or a post a picture in order to win an outdated electronic or a sub-par food product.
  • Promotion: Since social media doesn’t usually rely on press releases, think of other ways to get the word out. Email bloggers, tweet about your contest, place a link on your actual website. Actively promoting your contest on a daily basis is necessary, but you have to think past garnering the attention of your current followers, because you want new ones. Approach large Facebook pages that are similar to yours to set up a sort of promotional exchange. Ask friends to contact their networks.

Some of the greatest Facebook promotions have taken all these steps and more:

Facebook giant Red Bull, with over 18 million fans, often features fun contests. In 2010, their “Create the Next Red Bull Commercial” Contest excited both techies and non-techies alike. Entries could be sent by story board, video clip, hand drawn illustrations or a conventional script.

Discovery Adventures, a subsidiary of the Discovery Channel, is currently running a contest that is geared to increase its current 4,303 likes by…a lot. Fans can enter to win a trip to Italy for two, including airfare, sponsored by Pompeii the Exhibit. Clearly, Discovery has found a model that works for them and is sticking to it; their Italy contest mirrors their last contest, called Win a Trip to Egypt, featuring a 9 day Egyptian archeological adventure for two. Facebook contest rule #4394390- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Conan O’Brien’s Facebook Page currently features his F*Cards promotion. “Sometimes it’s hard to compose just the right status update or wall post for those uniquely Facebook moments,” the app explains. “So why not let Conan O’Brien do your Facetalkin’ for you with F-Cards? Huh? How? Watch this video and let Conan explain…” In under a minute, I’m intrigued and I’m amused. It’s fun and while there is no prize, this is promotion at its best: Conan is engaging his fans, who will most likely link to him on their own pages and give him free publicity.

While these big-brand Facebook contests & promotions have been wildly successful, when creating your own, make sure to read the fine print.

In the past few years, Facebook has changed the rules regarding contests quite a few times, mostly recently in November 2010. The most notable rule is this one: You MUST use an app to conduct a contest or risk facing the wrath of Facebook. Ultimately, while a Facebook contest or promotion requires hard work to succeed, the payoff of a well-executed campaign is well worth it.

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Will Blog for Food…

Typewriter Robot by Jeremy Mayer

I’ve been asked to write a blog post.

A blog? Me? But I get PAID to write and to whip other people’s meandering brain-farts into glorious prose! Well, that is, I did until two weeks ago, when I was laid off from my job as editor at a book publisher. You know, moldy old books. Like, paper and ink and four-color printing and stuff.

I’ve been in print publishing for nearly 20 years, writing for and editing magazines and books on everything from international business news to music to architecture. Why should I stoop to a medium that’s attainable to any idiot with an iBook? I mean (to paraphrase the old joke about awards), blogs are like hemorrhoids: sooner or later, every asshole gets one.

The truth is, publishing now really is for everyone, from bloggers to tweeters to the right-place-at-the-right-time bystander who manages to capture breaking news with a cellphone camera.

This may be bad news for the professionals, that endlessly growing pool of talented, out-of-work journalists who are duking it out for the few available jobs at established publications. For everyone else, though, it means access to a wealth of opinions, points of view, and, yes, insane ramblings, which may inform, infuriate, call to act, or simply amuse.

The Web, with its accessibility and immediacy, lends itself intrinsically to writing of an egocentric nature. My own writings have never been personal; my professional duties have always been as a reporter or as an editor of other people’s work. I find it incredibly embarrassing to talk about myself; can’t we discuss that fascinating individual over there?

But clearly I need to get with the program. My profession has changed; hell, even the language we use to discuss it has changed. While I won’t stop looking for a job at a “legitimate” media outlet, in the meantime, I will begrudgingly learn to write snappy, snarky, first-person Web-speak, and to embrace the blogs and Twitters and Diggs and Wikis, and, yeah, I still don’t know what Foursquare is.

So, here’s my blog entry. Maybe some people will happen upon it. But for now, until I get used to the idea, one thing you can count on is that I won’t be posting a link for all of my friends on Facebook. Just give me a few weeks.

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Weekly Highlights

Social Media moves quickly. While the time lag between communications produced by more traditional media, like newspapers and television, can be long, taking anywhere from days to weeks to months, social media is virtually instantaneous. In fact, social media users can dissect and comment on an event as it is taking place.

Social Media makes the news just as quickly as it reports on it. On a week-to-week basis, the industry can rapidly shift gears, with new developments, mergers and innovation that define it.

Here’s what’s new this week:

YouTube now offers live video: Welcome to YouTube Live, which integrates live streaming capabilities and discovery tools directly into the YouTube platform for the first time. Users can search for the most compelling live events happening on YouTube and add these events to their personalized calendars, and customized homepages will notify customers of upcoming live streams. As of April 8, YouTube started gradually rolling out the live streaming beta platform, which allowed certain YouTube partners with “accounts in good standing” to stream live content on YouTube.

Walmart ventures into social media: Walmart announced this week that it is buying Mountain View-based Kosmix, a social media technology provider that has built a platform that “enables users to filter and organize content in social networks, in order to connect people with information that matters to them, in realtime.” The platform powers TweetBeat, a social media filter for live events. Walmart expects Kosmix, whose founders and team will now operate as @WalmartLabs, to create technologies and businesses around social and mobile commerce that will support its multi-channel strategy. Interesting fact: Kosmix’ founders Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman also created crowdsourcing Internet marketplace Amazon Mechanical Turk.

A tech boom is on the way: Seattle-based real estate mapper Zillow has become the latest Internet company to put an IPO into the pipeline. (An initial public offering, or IPO, is when a company issues common stock or shares to the public for the first time.) Zillow filed a statement with the SEC that will let it sell more than $50 million of stock. The company follows in the footsteps of Demand Media, LinkedIn and Pandora, all of which filed for an IPO within the last year. Facebook and Groupon are also expected to join the public market soon. With insiders debating the proximity of the next tech bubble, these IPOs could signify that we should expect it soon.

Twitter in talks to buy TweetDeck: Twitter is in talks to purchase TweetDeck Inc. for $50 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. TweetDeck is a hot commodity, as earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that UberMedia was in talks to purchase TweetDeck for $30 million. As one of the most popular third-party Twitter clients, TweetDeck displays your Twitter news feed, direct messages, etc. along with your Facebook feeds — all on the same screen, updating in real time.

Got any interesting social media news to share with us from the past few days? Please let us know in the comments!

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Which Platform Do I Get On? Part II

*This is the second of a two-part series on social media platforms.

Last week, we discussed social media platforms that are used on a personal level, like Facebook and Digg. This week, we continue our conversation by highlighting some social media platforms in the business division.

Check out platforms like Buddy Media, a Facebook management system based on a scalable platform and simple tools. The Buddy Media Platform gives brands the opportunity to make the best use of the power of Facebook’s social connections. It allows global marketers to combine all of their Facebook assets into a single unified presence, across multiple countries and languages, in any language Facebook supports.

Also take a look at Wildfire. This brand marketer uses Facebook to build buzz for its clients, ranging from bloggers to corporations like Coca-Cola. The goal is to win “fans” who can choose to further interact with the advertiser. It also builds marketing campaigns that include contests, coupons, virtual gifts, etc.

Are you looking to customize your Facebook fan page? A “normal” fan page doesn’t cut it anymore, especially not when companies are running contests and posting interactive photo albums on their pages, at the least. Involver allows you to make your fan page stand out through easy-to-use applications. Simply choose which applications you want, click the Install button and enter your settings. The RSS tools found in the Facebook Application directory pale in comparison. The platform has three levels of membership: Free, Pro, and Premium and powers 250,000 applications.

Do you want to track fast-moving data? Try Meteor Solutions, which tracks data like email or video as it gets passed along. The platform allows advertisers and publishers to track the spread of their messages/content and gives them the option of advertising as well. As the tracked content spreads, Meteor Tracker creates a sharing graph that identifies each node and captures every single visit to a site that is generated by a user who sees the tracked content. Born out of a merger between Reach Machines and Fyreball, the platform’s analytics are available through a monthly subscription fee.

Ultimately, there are loads of business-oriented platforms out there; choose wisely and network frequently!

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Which Platform Do I Get On? Part I

*This is the first of a two-part series on social media platforms.

The key to navigating the ever-growing world of social media is to divide and conquer. With three main types of social media platforms- those that help you network, the ones that help you promote, and those that help you share- ease of navigation is a necessity.

A platform that allows you to network, like Facebook or LinkedIn, is the most commonly used. Whether you’re interested in getting back in touch with an old flame or making new contacts in the business world, using a social networking site is the easiest way to do so.

Promoting platforms, like YouTube or personal blogs, allow you to do just that: promote. Oftentimes, it isn’t even clear what someone is promoting; personal-style blogs, for example, seem to be promoting nothing more than daily outfits. Upon closer look, however, many of these blogs feature the latest fashions, both in clothing form and through ads, and bloggers can be compensated, whether with money or gifts of clothing, etc.

Lastly, we have platforms that allow you to share, like Digg and Delicious. These platforms operate through closely-knit communities that are not easy to infiltrate. Try to get voted up on Digg and you’ll realize instantly that it takes months of interaction with other users to build up the trust needed to share within the community

If you’re a networker and you like sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, check out Quora. This platform is a sort of best-of the Q&A platform format; a combination of LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo Answers with the look, feel and simplicity of Twitter.

Also check out Color. The platform uses location-based services like GPS to allow users to share the photos on their handsets with people—both strangers and friends—nearby (within a 150-foot radius of a user). Users can also create albums and social groups for photos from a specific event, and can also comment on photos and shoot video.

If you like YouTube and WordPress, try Instagram. This is heaven for tech-junkies and social networking addicts. Snap a photo with your iPhone and then edit the photo as you like, choosing a filter to transform the look and feel. Then, send to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – it’s photo sharing, reinvented.

If you like sites like Delicious because you enjoy the thrill of sharing sites with like-minded web users, try a social shopping experience in 2011. Sites like Svpply and Polyvore allow users to create inspiration boards, generate user feedback, and ultimately, mimic a real-time shopping experience, minus the long lines and annoying interactions.

Next week, we’ll discuss some more business-oriented social platforms, like Wildfire and Buddy Media.

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Social Media Success Stories

The most successful social media campaigns have had certain characteristics in common. Whether the campaign has been centered on the launch of a big brand’s newest product, or simply consists of the revival of a decades-old favorite, success cannot be attained if all the brand has to offer is… its product. Durability comes from other factors, including personalization, discussion, novelty and buzz.

Personalization: Facebook capitalizes on the fact that its users are impulsive and restless. It’s just as easy to click on a link, a page, or a group as it is to close out of that tab and move on the next one. Therefore, in order for a brand to capture the attention of these most fickle of internet users, it must offer a personalized experience. The main difference between a traditional campaign and a social media campaign is the level of interaction the latter can offer users. Take, for example, IKEA’s wildly successful Facebook campaign in 2009.  The campaign used one of Facebook’s most popular features, tagging, to encourage people to tag themselves in photos of IKEA showrooms. The company offered users the chance to win tagged items for free, and as word of the campaign spread, photos were tagged within seconds of being uploaded. Without the store rolling out a costly campaign, their products were personally promoted by their audience. People also felt a personal connection to the brand, picking and choosing pieces of furniture they would want in their own homes.

Discussion: Encouraging discussion on Facebook, or any other social network, is tricky, especially when the discussion is initially based on a single product. For the Wrigley’s Extra Facebook campaign, the Wrigley’s team took a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on the product at hand (gum), the page capitalized on the current “foodie” trend and prompted discussions about good food and eating. The page was created with the premise that strongly flavored food and drink, while one of life’s pleasures, are not necessarily things we wish to carry with us for the rest of the day on our breath. The message, then, doesn’t directly rely on the product itself, and is designed to continue conversation for as long as people eat and drink. Discussions on the Facebook page, which has more than 150,000 “Likes,” range from favorite Valentine’s Day food to the best pie flavor. Asking questions like, “Do real men eat quiche?” and “What do you reckon’s your CPM (chews per minute) rate?” provoke interesting, lively and continuous conversation that shouldn’t die down when buzz about the new gum does.

Novelty: Creating a social media campaign that draws a broad audience is tough when your product is a standard household item, like the toothbrush. It becomes even tougher when you’re trying to generate buzz for a new mini disposable toothbrush called The Wisp. In designing their social media campaign for this product, Colgate knew they’d have to think out of the box to generate any kind of attention. Hence, the brand took a fresh approach and came up with the “Be More Kissable” creative platform, which rerouted the issue at hand from dental hygiene to a topic that was more fun, social and sexy. At the heart of the campaign strategy were online videos, and a series of online videos were released that cinched into the comedy and how-to market. The brand also ran a photo contest, looking for “The Most Kissable Person in America,” and created a Facebook app called Spin the Wisp. Once the app was installed, it had the names of the consumer’s Facebook friends and provided them with an experience similar to Spin the Bottle. Ultimately, there were more than 100,000 engagements and 40,000 + installations of the widget and more than 1 million unique impressions of the widget. Overall, as of May, 2010, Big Fuel reported 6 million+ total engagements with the Wisp campaign (widget installs, video views, game plays, pass-alongs). The campaign succeeded not because it was led by a big brand, but because it took a fresh and new approach to something as stale as toothbrushes.

Buzz: Even with all of the components above, a social media campaign cannot be successful without buzz. Word-of-mouth gears social media; as an example, let’s discuss the buzz that the Red Cross accidentally generated a few weeks ago with an unintentional tweet. An employee with access to the @RedCross Twitter account had accidentally posted about their night of drinking Dogfish Head Midas Touch and tagged the message #gettngslizzerd. Within moments of the tweet going out, it was like a social media avalanche. While The Red Cross has about 270,000 followers subscribing to that account, hundreds of re-tweets and tweets about the post put that number well into the millions. Although the Red Cross later deleted the tweet and replaced it with one that read,“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys,”  it didn’t stop this non-campaign from generating buzz. In fact, the Red Cross reports that the incident actually resulted in slight raise in donations and interest in giving blood. Everyone, including Beer brand Dogfish, has now blogged about the incident and it just goes to show- if an accidental tweet can generate this much buzz, how much attention can an intentional, well-played tweet get?

Ultimately, social media case studies allow us to look back and move forward more successfully. We can see the numbers and the views and decide for ourselves which brands were triumphant in what they did.

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Mommy Revolution

The modern mom: She is educated, nurturing, career and family oriented and today, she’s a business powerhouse. She values brands like Target and Ikea, which are family-oriented and proud of it; places that fulfill all of her needs in one space. The modern mom is a powerful consumer; she knows what she wants, and she knows that there are plenty of places where she can get it.

Family dynamics have certainly changed in the past few decades; no need to watch Mad Men to confirm this. The 1950’s dad-as-dictator framework has collapsed, and today we’ve even surpassed the 90’s model of mom and dad ruling together. In 2011, households are democracies; kids, mom, and dad all have a say, but mom is more powerful than ever. Mothers today have higher salaries and many are college educated. They are more involved mothers and ultimately, more informed consumers.

“I wish every product were like the iPod,” one mom said in a recent survey. “It is the one thing in the house that means as much to me as it does to my daughter…we share music. I can’t imagine sharing music with my parents when I was a kid.”

Mommy bloggers, as they’re called, have taken over the web. These women are a powerful force in the blogosphere, often peppering their sites with coupons that fit the needs of the thousands of other moms who scour their sites daily. With topics ranging from pregnancy, parenting and motherhood to household tips, these blogs are relevant, targeted, and successful.

So successful, in fact, that a new wave of “daddy bloggers” is now attempting to catch up. It’ll be tough, however, to catch up in this race, as mom bloggers take on roles varying from that of Entrpreuner Mom to Tech Mom to Photographer Mom. Hardly anyone, especially in the online world, is just “Mom” anymore. In 2011, brands will continue to frequently court these powerful bloggers, no longer dismissing them as bored, stay-at-home moms. Aware that women make 85 percent of consumer purchasing decisions, major brands do not take lightly the fact that 23 million women read, write or comment on blogs weekly. The power of the mom blogger can no longer be disputed.

Pepsi, Wal-mart, and ConAgra are just a few of the companies that have formed relationships with them. On the negative side, just last year, mommy bloggers encouraged drama which included a Nestle boycott, dissatisfaction with Air Canada, vilification of corn syrup, and outrage at Amazon’s choice to sell a book about pedophiles, among other issues.

The Pepsi Mommy Blogger case study is an interesting one; Pepsi has been working on an image makeover and has therefore reached out to mothers, playing up the importance of their Tropicana, Quaker and Dole brands, which currently only make up 18% of total revenue. Pepsi appeared at the 2010 BlogHer conference, and is sponsoring the 2011 Social Media Week, during which it will unveil its Women’s Inspiration Network (WIN). By covering topics that would be of interest to females, and more specifically, to mothers, Pepsi is hoping to corner the Mom market and gain from their influence. These “feminine” topics include the environment, sustainability, health, and stories of inspirational women.

It’s safe to say, then, that the stereotype of the Mommy Blogger has gone out the window. In the blogosphere and elsewhere, these women have power. Mommy bloggers have realized this power, hosting meetings and conferences frequently.

Also read 2011 Predictions for Mommy Bloggers and about Some up-and-coming Mom Bloggers.

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ROE the new ROI

Social media has become part of our life. Today, pretty much everyone is using some form of it. Every local store, cafe, club and event has a Facebook page. Every brand has a Twitter account and every white paper ever written has been turned into a SlideShare presentation, for some self-proclaimed thought leader in a Linkedin group to share.

In this completely connected, totally viral, absolutely transparent, geo-targeted, digital world we live and work in… you have to be social. But how do you justify the time and expense it takes to maintain that presence?

Now that social media has passed the point of “why do I need it” to “what do I do with it” the quest to determine the ROI of social media has become more complex.

Since you are asking people to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are difficult to quantify, trying to determine the exact return on your investment is not easy and in the long run, may not a good idea. To really understand the impact of social media and social technology on an event, promotion, brand awareness or even product sales, people need to measure the “ROE” … return on engagement.

At Medial Needle, we have been finding valuable “returns” manifesting themselves in ways not always anticipated at the onset as a result of our marketing efforts. More and more, we’ve come to see these unexpected fruits and proverbial rewards only appear because social media was strategically integrated into a marketing agenda.

For example, Media Needle recently executed a food campaign outreach program. While servicing a very small, archaic and insular cooking listserv, we uncovered a hive of influential webmasters; each with robust email lists and social media profiles. So what at first appeared initially to be a seemingly insignificant target community mushroomed into one of the campaigns top case studies. Clearly social media bears the markings of what we once more readily called “viral marketing”. Another campaign had us establish a quality dialog with a key target community. Despite a lull in activity on the client’s end, we maintained the relationship. Six months later, the two partnered successfully for a robust promotion. Anticipating these in conventional ROI terms, especially at the onset of the campaigns would have been impossible.

Thinking about social media in terms of a simple bottom line number puts the whole thing on an old school path of problems and risks, missing great opportunities. Essentially, you have to stop relying solely on the numbers. With social media the trick is to focus on what your numbers end up leading to. ROI is an effect of quality ROE.

If your goal is to participate in the conversation, to enhance your relationship with your audience and become a trusted member of the community that surrounds your brand; then your ROE has been set into motion. Once you’ve paved this foundation, the more conventional ROI models of sales, registrations, new followers and fans etc. will begin to kick-in, proving the benefits of a well-engaged social media agenda versus a dry and uninspired one.

Finally, ROE like everything else social media related, has a variety of definitions. Here are two good ones: We wish to cite Jason Falls’ here http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2008/10/28/what-is-the-roi-for-social-media/

Sarah Evans’ different but complimentary tome here: http://prsarahevans.com/2009/05/15-ways-to-measure-return-on-engagement-roe-of-social-media/ as a valuable point of reference.

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