Last week, social media good ole boy Jason Falls came to Seattle to share his wisdom via Social Media Club Seattle. The topic: Moving the Needle. How can we as social media advocates actually show that a social media effort, campaign or initiative is actually making a difference?
The room was packed; the waiting list had over 100 people on it. The bar was actually mostly empty once the talk started, which is a sign that people really wanted to hear what Jason had to say.
But Jason didn't just cover basic goals and measurement. He didn't mince words and dove right into the brass-tacks issues: how do we show that social media is actually making a difference not only in share of mind but in profit-generating customers? Stop being a social media "purist" and start admitting that the end goal is to "sell more stuff." Tac Anderson summarized the feather-ruffling approach as Waging War Against the Social Media Purists (while pointing out that Jason does advocate the basics of social media "purists," including as being customer-centric, providing value and building relationships).
Jason pitted the social media "purists" against those who focus on selling and attaining measurable results. And he has a point: is using social media to sell all that dirty if it's within your organizations' transparently-disclosed goals?
Jason Falls' Strategies from the War:
- The end game for me is, did we sell more stuff?
- A social media "guru" holds a sign reading "looking for a job."
- The "I love @chrisbrogan people" aren't moving the needle. Living social media isn't same as using effectively.
- 81% of companies plan to link revenues to social medi.
- Don't drive Facebook fans. Drive action.
- Soft metrics have merit. Branding, i.e., who is aware of your brand before vs. after, is valid.
- Be a social media purist: Be consumer-centric. Participate. Provide value. Build relationships & trust.
However, during the talk, arms folded across chests, jaws tightened and mutters in support of social media "purists" propagated. Some steeled in defense of building relationships, engaging in conversations and the value of a business having a human face. Perhaps it was the "hippie" and "tree-hugger" nomenclature synonymizing "purists." And yes, he really put up a slide of a person hugging a tree. You've gotta love him for the shock jock value of that move alone.
Jason blogged afterwards that he didn't want to deliver a message that 100% of the audience would agree with; he wanted to be controversial, and he wanted the audience to push back. Charles Sipe pushed back against the premise that any social media not resulting in direct sales should be canned.
I believe Jason accomplished his objective: he made an extremely informed social media crowd think about how they do things. He made some members of the audience annoyed enough to argue with him and to articulate the rationale behind long-established social media principles. Challenging beliefs is a good thing; too much nodding doesn't move the needle, as it were. And in the end, as Tac Anderson pointed out, he still promoted the basics of social media ideals: building relationships, building trust and providing value, all tenets of the social media "purists." He just didn't promote resting on those laurels and tracking numbers, sales and results in addition to that.
In the war against social media purists, I'm on both sides. Not Swizerland; I actually believe both sides bring value. Add one part Jason Falls with one part Chris Brogan. Throw in a little Katie Paine, and you'll have a great strategy with measurable results.