Connecting With A Fellow Rock Star
Being part of the social media community means I get to work with some pretty amazing people. One of the people who I most admire is Tracy Weise. She has built a smart and strong communications, PR, advertising and social media presence in Denver with her agency Weise Communications. She is one of the women I have use as my career north star, navigating me to what is possible. Tracy is also super smart because she just hired a wonderful PR professional, friend and my very first intern Heather Hutchinson to be part of her team.
Our paths have crossed over the past few years and she recently invited me to write a guest post for her blog The Side Note. This post was in response to one of her clients who said that social media is a waste of time. Hmmmm, think I have something to say? Here are my thoughts:
The biggest foe of any communications st rategy is return on investment (ROI). It can be a monster waiting to gobble up creative ideas. A failure to prove ROI on a project makes communicators look like they don’t understand business or don’t care about the bottom line.
I also know it can be one of the most popular ways for social media doubters to discount the new medium. For me, this is a moot point because social media has an amazing return on investment due to time being the only cost.
Creating a brand space on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and Flickr is free. Even creating a blog is free. You can even go as far as to set-up a niche social network for your organization or nonprofit that could serve as your website only with more interaction and functionality for FREE (see Think 360 Arts for a great example).
The incredible aspect of social media and what places it above other communications tactics is the interaction you get out of this new medium. In the social media space, you can do exactly the same things you do with your print materials and advertising campaign. With social media, you can push key messages and tout the benefits of your work.
Only with social media, you get a bonus: interaction with your brand. You can ask to find out if people like your key messages. You get to query your customers to find out if they like your benefits or find something else more powerful. It is this rich experience of interacting with real people, in real time, is what makes social media’s return on investment invaluable.
Measuring social media ROI has to be about the interactions. It has to be about the quality of the campaign, not the quantity of eyeballs or reach. Social media communications is about connecting with real people who care about your brand and organization.
The crowning achievement of our 2009 social media efforts is a Thanksgiving campaign – The Healthy Kids Thank-A-Thon. This project was a way for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to give thanks for the healthy kids in their life. The participants were able to submit their gratitude statements on the CCIC website, Twitter or Facebook. The statement could be a simple sentence, a photo or even a video.
The budget for this project was essentially zero. The costs included our monthly subscription to Constant Contact, website hosting fees, about 40 hours work by our intern Kelsey Gryniewicz (brain child of this whole project) and about 20 hours of my time.
See a great presentation created by Kelsey on the whole project including our ROI:
- 34 people specifically and deeply engaged in our mission
- The most web traffic of the year
- 16 retweets on Twitter
- 1,124 click through on tweets
- 14 posts by bloggers (Including The Side Note Blog)
- 25% email open rate and 14% click-thru
- 2 media stories including a feature on 9News KUSA the night before Thanksgiving
- Encouraging an intern to lead a project and bolster her resume
And we pulled this project off in three weeks. That is crazy short for a social media strategy, but it worked. Heck, that’s crazy fast for any communications strategy.
We engaged our followers to be the spokespeople for our cause. We engaged our social media base to share their passion for childhood immunizations.
Moreover, we couldn’t have done this campaign on any of the traditional communications tactics. We couldn’t have engaged a news outlet to help without major mullah or connections. Sure, we could have hosted it all on our website but without any interaction. We couldn’t have done this in print or in an event.
Social media is the next business revolution. It’s just like email. Some people hoped email would just go away so we could send faxes forever. Well, those people lost (thankfully) and now email is part of every successful business. Social media will be the same way in the coming years. If an organization is not engaged in social media they will look dated, out of touch and will be seen as having poor customer service.
So start small, and get engaged today. Your customers will thank you!