Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

Six essential shifts in social media strategy

We’ve reached a critical point in the evolution of social media as a business tool. Gone are the days when the GMOOT (Get Me One Of Those) approach will get you anywhere – simply having a Twitter account, or a Facebook Page, isn’t enough. We’re at the point of social media saturation, and something’s got to give.

So began the session description for my recent presentation at BlogWorld New York. The crux: that the days of social media as an experiment are over – it’s time for a more mature approach to social media within companies in order for social media to be viewed as a sustainable communications and business function.

Unfortunately, we’re also at a point where pursuit of the shiny object has reached an extreme, and that this pursuit is conducted within an increasingly transparent fishbowl while armchair critics circle, waiting for the next “fail” from companies.

In this environment, where transparency and scrutiny are paired up with a shift in focus from experimentation to results, and yet where the allure of “the next big thing” persists, companies need to structure and approach social media differently.

My presentation focused on six essential shifts that I see in how many businesses approach social media strategy. Of course, not all companies are in the same situation. Some with mature programs have evolved beyond this stage; some face just a few of these shifts; others face them all:

  1. Moving away from shiny objects and towards social business
    1. Asking “why” to understand demands
    2. Building a social media infrastructure to support the social brand
    3. Taking baby steps in implementation – from crawl, to walk, to run, to fly
  2. Setting better objectives for social media
    1. Setting SMART objectives
    2. Tying back to broader business goals
    3. Staying clear of the “how” and “what” when setting objectives
  3. Measuring effectively against those objectives
    1. Focusing on the right numbers for the audience
    2. Understanding what numbers really mean
    3. Avoiding made-up numbers
    4. Measuring to drive insights alongside determining results
  4. Breaking down silos and integrating across functions
    1. Approaching social media as an integrated function
    2. Breaking-down silos through day-to-day tactics
    3. Integrating through reporting structures, governance and social media organizational models
  5. Planning and executing content more strategically
    1. Considering content objectives
    2. Identifying appropriate content sources
    3. Fine-tuning execution via appropriate content volume, mix and format
  6. Engaging effectively to build relationships and communities of interest
    1. Embracing negative and neutral conversations
    2. Establishing processes to minimize risk

How about you – have you seen companies needing to make these improvements to their social media strategy?

For more on the topic, check out this excellent write-up of my presentation over at SmartBlog for Social Media.

Thanks once again to Rick, Dave, Deb, Shane and the rest of the BlogWorld team for the invitation to speak. This was my fifth BlogWorld presentation, and I always enjoy it. 

Weekly Reads: Facebook, Marketing Trends and Social Media’s Effect on Stereotypes

Alongside my ongoing book reading challenge, I start off every day by reading the latest goings-on in the public relations, social  media and tech blogosphere. As part of my new approach to creating content, I’m going to begin curating the best for you.

Each Monday, I’ll kick-start your week’s reading by sharing some of the most interesting pieces I’ve read over the previous week. Facebook is at the centre this week – four of the seven articles incorporate the dominant social network – from conflict over Egypt, to UFC broadcasting fights, to creating an engagement guide for your organization. Also: interactive marketing trends and how social media may break down gender stereotypes.

Let me know about your favourite pieces from the last week in the comments below.

1. Betting on News, AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post

AOL’s spate of content-focused acquisitions continues – first TechCrunch, now the Huffington Post as the New York Times reports on its latest move.

AOL buys HuffPo

2. Brian Solis: Malcolm Gladwell, Your Slip Is Showing

Nowadays, you can almost guarantee that every time there’s a significant world event, Malcolm Gladwell will stick his head up and beat down a non-existent argument that social media is driving everything. In this piece, Brian Solis offers a counterpoint to Gladwell’s incessant focus on tools, and looks at the bigger picture.

Gladwell’s slipping point

3. Wired: Trolls Pounce on Facebook’s Tahrir Square

In a bit of a counterpoint to Gladwell’s perspective, Wired looks at how Egyptian President  Hosni Mubarak’s supporters are spreading propaganda and disinformation through social media.

Facebook as a battleground

4. Fast Company: UFC and Its Gang of 4.6 Million Facebook Friends Body Slam Sports Broadcasting

UFC – the hot sport of the moment – bypasses the mainstream media and takes to Facebook to broadcast some of its fights. Fast Company notes that “Experimenting with new web integration is a natural fit for the UFC, a business built on the strapping backs of its early, Internet-savvy fans.”

Ultimate Fightbook

5. Forrester: Actual Interactive Marketer Predictions For 2011

Following-up on my presentation on 20 social media trends for business in 2011, here are a few diverse predictions from an equally diverse group of interactive marketers:

  • Ad prices increase
  • Marketing will blend promotion and content
  • Targeting gets even bigger
  • Netflix pulls out of mail
  • Mobile commerce will bloom
  • 2012 will be a year of even more aggressive innovation

Interactive marketing predictions

6. Mashable: HOW TO: Create A Facebook Engagement Policy

Mashable isn’t usually a source to rely on for in-depth walk-throughs, but this piece on creating an engagement guide for Facebook does a decent job of outlining some key areas:

  1. Categorize posts
  2. Establish acceptable response times
  3. Develop guidelines for resolving issues
  4. Create a process for handling inquiries
  5. Set clear ground rules for fan posts
  6. Set the appropriate tone

Engaging on Facebook

7. TEDTalks: Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender

Johanna Blakley talks about the demographic profiling used by traditional media and the advertising industry, and how online communities and social media may bring an end not only to false demographic targeting but also to gender stereotypes in mainstream media.

Social media and the end of gender

(Image: nkzs, via sxc.hu)

Are You Creating Social Media Scorched Earth?

“In too many cases, the “best practices” espoused by digital agencies are less about “serving the community” and more about driving a rush of new fans, without much thought re: how to keep those fans engaged on a LONG-TERM basis.” — Todd Defren

As corporate spending on social media-based communication continues to rise, I’m beginning to worry that many brands are inadvertently adopting a ‘scorched earth’ approach to their online activities.

What do I mean by scorched earth?

When an army advances using a scorched earth approach, it destroys everything behind it as it advances. So, while it gains territory, little remains of the territory it captures. Similarly, many companies are at risk of this when they focus purely on customer acquisition while neglecting engaging their existing fans.

One-shot social media accounts and short-term campaigns-focused approaches may eventually build a fan-base, but unless that is paired with activities aimed at engaging those fans, you’ll lose them. Worse, you’ll not only lose them at the time but you’ll also have to work that much harder to win those people back next time.

This is understandable to an extent, especially in a campaign-focused setup – retention plans aren’t as “glamorous” as new customer-acquisitions. As a result, it’s tempting for marketers to focus their dollars on the latter. You’ve seen this approach – the Twitter account that’s shut down after a month; the big-bang launch that’s forgotten by the next week; the multiple campaign-focused Facebook pages that the company launches and shuts down every year.

Agencies (and savvy corporate communicators) need to resist the urge to take this approach. It can be particularly difficult for agencies, where the client brief may not extend to long-term engagement, but good agencies should give clients the advice they need to hear whether they expect that advice or not. Make sure you dedicate sufficient resources to retaining your fans.

So, next time you’re creating a social media plan, stop and think: are you creating social media scorched earth, or are you engaging for the long term?

Have you seen this pattern, in your organization or with clients?

(Image: Steve Lacy)

You Aren’t Always Right

As our team does more and more online outreach on behalf of our clients, I’m increasingly coming to realize that you can’t expect to “win” every debate.

Interestingly enough, “you” in this case can refer to either side of the discussion.

Companies – you don’t have to win

As a communications pro, with inside knowledge of the company/companies you represent, it’s easy to get caught-up in your own story. I mean that in a positive way – the best job is one you’re passionate about, whether that passion is focused on your employer or a client. Still, it’s easy to get swept away by the great things you’re doing, by the benefits your organization can offer, and by the great story you’re telling.

Trouble is, other people have a different story.

Maybe they have a history with that company. Maybe they perceive the situation in a completely different way to that in which you perceive it. Maybe they’re looking to solve different problems to you.

As a communicator who listens and engages with your target market online, you need to remember that you don’t have to convince everyone every time. Sometimes it’s enough that you show you’re listening. Sometimes it’s enough to put forward an alternative angle. Sometimes it’s best not to engage at all.

Consumers – you’re not always right

Social media, and the increased voice that it gives to the average person, seems to have led to many people believing that one person’s issue means a company has to change course.

Reality check, people: no company is ever going to be able to make everyone happy. What’s more, most changes in business have a counter-effect:

  • Lower the price on one thing and the revenue has to come from somewhere else (or increased volumes)
  • Basic management theory explains that of the three basic elements of a project outcome – cost, speed and quality – you can optimize two but have to compromise on the other.

My point here is that you may not like something, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else feels the same way. The opposite is potentially true, too – just because you’re happy with something doesn’t mean everyone else is.

Don’t expect every single company to leap to attention because you, personally, don’t agree with fundamental aspects of their business model.

So, next time a company responds to your concerns but puts forward an alternative perspective or just doesn’t drop everything to make big changes to their business based on your feedback, consider:

Is it them not listening to their customers, or an individual not necessarily representing the masses?

Closing-out

Social media engagement isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Not from the customer’s perspective, and certainly not from the company’s.

Social media allows companies to reach out to customers, and vice versa. It lets companies listen to concerns; to answer questions; to help people; to develop relationships. It lets customers voice opinions; receive support; put forward ideas.

Just remember – whether you’re the company or the customer, you aren’t always right.

Five Levels Of Social Media Responses

How well are you listening?You’ve leapt onto the social media bandwagon. You’ve dived headfirst into the murky waters of Twitter. You’ve used a few other cliched sayings along the way, too. Suffice it to say, you’re monitoring what people are saying about you and you’re starting to respond to them.

Maybe you’re using free tools like Google Alerts, Twitter Search and BackType. Maybe you’re using a paid tool like Radian6, Ripple6 or Techrigy

Either way, you’re starting to put together what Marcel Lebrun would call a listening program.

But are you listening? I mean really listening?

I’ve come up with five levels of approach to online listening and responding (not including the option of not engaging at all). In order of growing effectiveness:

Level One: Ostriching

(Yes, I’m using “ostrich” as a verb. My high-school teachers must hate me.)

This approach, a slight evolution from that which completely ignores online conversations in general, involves monitoring for key words and responding only when people say nice things about you. While this keeps your Twitter stream clear of debate and arguments, it does nothing to engage the people who are hurting or whose needs are not met by your company.

Tip: If you ignore critics, the only place that they go away is in your head. Everywhere else, they get louder.

Level Two: Laughing Gas

“Hey, thanks for your feedback!”

If you’ve just said something nice about a company, or offered something constructive, it might be nice to read a reply like that.

I’ve you’ve just complained publicly about a problem, that’s not the response you want.

Companies taking the laughing gas approach respond as though every mention is a compliment.

They’re not. It just shows that you’re not really listening, and implies that this is just superficial sugar coating.

Don’t do it. No-one will be fooled.

Level Three: “We’re Always Right”

Companies adopting the “we’re always right” approach appear to listen, but when someone disagrees with them that person is always wrong.

This kind of approach is distinctive due to the large number of arguments the company representatives have with other people – arguments that rarely end in agreement, as the representative never accepts that the other point of view may be valid.

Level Four: Superficial Debate

This approach is the best approach that many companies, where communications may not have a significant voice at the management table, can hope to take.

Companies taking this approach engage with people talking about them online, both postitively and critically. They may even engage in debates with those who disagree with them. Many disagreements end in an appeasing message from the representative – something like “thanks – we’ll have a think about how we can improve that” or similar.

If your company is at this stage, you’re in fairly good shape. You’re engaging with your fans and you’re debating with your critics without getting drawn into descructive exchanges.

From what I know, relatively few companies do more than this right now.

Level Five: Fully Engaged

Companies adopting a fully-engaged approach follow most of the same practices as those at level four, but with one important distinction: their social media listening and engagement team feeds back into the rest of the organization.

So, when you voice your concerns about a problem, that company is more likely than others to fix it.

Does this mean that every time a customer complains you have to bend over? No. Obviously companies can’t address every single concern that people raise or they’d (a) spend all of their time on tactical changes rather than strategic direction and (b) would go out of business due to ridiculously high costs. However, they can address issues where it is cost effective to do so.

Very few companies adopt this approach. It takes time, a suitable culture and a genuine integration of social media into core functions like R&D and customer service.

Companies that do this include Dell (see IdeaStorm), Seesmic and any of the social media monitoring companies worth their salt.

In Summary…

True listening – active listening – involves more than just nodding your head at the right time. It means absorbing what people are saying, acting where appropriate, and letting people know when you’ve acted.

If your company falls into levels 1-4, then you have room to grow. That’s ok, I would estimate that 99 per cent of companies are in the same situation. In fact, if you hit level one then you’re still ahead of most companies.

Where do you fall?

Social Media Needs Shades Of Grey

Shades of greySocial media operates in shades of grey.

The more I think about our application of these new tools to communications and marketing, the more I realize that things aren’t black and white. Ghost blogging is grey. Online personas are grey. The rules are grey.

Why should you care? Because your approach should be no different.

Your approach to social media will probably differ from most others.

Different situations, different approaches

I just finished co-chairing the Social Media Summit Canada Conference, where I watched Aaron Wrixon deliver a presentation on the Workplace Safety and Insurance Bureau‘s (WSIB) approach to monitoring online conversations.

The WSIB, an Ontario government agency, is at the beginning of its use of social media tools. Right now it uses a variety of free tools to monitor online conversations, and is in the early days of responding to them.

The WSIB’s approach to responding to conversations is based around the U.S. Air Force’s own decision tree. However, it is a little more tentative, ignoring any posts meeting the following criteria (emphasis is mine):

  • Obviously angry posts
  • Taunting/baiting
  • “Not of sound mind”
  • Wrong/misguided posts

The last point in this list stands out to me. The WSIB won’t correct misinformation about it online. What’s more, their protocol for responding to conversations is firmly centred around protecting itself, rather than communicating with the public. Legal, IT and Security departments are also heavily involved in the response process.

Remember the context

My immediate reaction, as yours may have been was that this was a poor approach to engaging online. Frankly, the specific and deliberate decision to not respond to misinformation means that (as David Alston mentioned earlier in the day) this information can propagate and in the absence of anything to the contrary, people may simply assume it is correct.

Before you judge, though, consider the environment in which WSIB and its staff operate. Fear 2.0 is rampant – to an organization that, for years, has had the illusion of being in control of its brand, the idea that it might need to engage with individuals is scary. It’s a huge jump for organizations that put layers and layers of approvals between communications staff and the public.

Culture check

One of the first steps on the road to social media adoption is a culture check. Does your organization really want a conversation with people? Is it really ready to accept that, contrary to the rose-coloured glasses people inside might wear, people do disagree with them? Are you willing and able to respond to conversations in real time?

Many organizations simply aren’t ready to engage with people. They need to adjust the way they and their processes work to effectively engage in a timely way (comment on a blog post 48 hours later and (a) most people have already been and gone, and (b) your comment may be buried at the bottom of a long list).

In this context, WSIB has adopted an approach that fits its situation. One might advise them that, at this stage, they’re just not ready to engage with people. They may be better-off monitoring and assessing discussions, and learning within their organization while they get to a point where they can have a positive effect by reaching-out online.

The important point here, though, is that the WSIB has adopted the “rules” of social media to its organization. Its staff listen and, within the context of their environment, they act accordingly.

Is it “textbook”? No. Is it ideal? No. Is it better than ignoring the online space? Yes.

Shades of grey. It’s not just black and white.

What do you think?

Pragmatism Over Purism

When I first got into social media, I was a purist. By that I mean I would evangelise for companies to go out, do their own engagement online and build their own relationships. Every time. Without fail.

Over the last year or so, however, I’ve developed into more of a pragmatist. Like it or not, I’ve found that as I work with more clients from the consultancy side that their answer will often be something like "I hear you and I agree with you, but I just don’t have enough time to do that."

Do you just tell these companies that they shouldn’t get involved in social media until they can find the resources to engage as Dell, Zappos, Comcast or Molson do?

If you’re talking about writing a blog, then perhaps they should wait (I’ve already given my thoughts on ghost-written blogs). If you’re talking about monitoring and outreach then maybe not, as long as you’re open about who’s doing the outreach.

It’s not ideal, but sometimes have to compromise… not your ethics, but your approach. I’ve done it – it’s not my first choice but sometimes the ideal approach isn’t the feasible one.

You can do your client justice by acting as their representative online. Let’s face it, in a downturn where budgets and staffing is being cut, you could find yourself waiting a long time before your client can find those extra resources. Social media purists might not like that answer, but I suspect the average person would be quite happy that a representative of Company X is engaging with them, regardless of who pays their salary.

A more important question is whether the company’s culture is ready for online engagement. Do they really want to hear what people don’t like about them? Are they really ready to respond… genuinely, without trying to ‘spin’ their way through these situations? Do they really want to help, or do they just want to look like they do?

If you don’t get the right answers to questions like those, consider that the company may just not be ready. They’d be better served by starting to listen to what people are saying and learning from it before starting to reach out and engage with people.

Only once you can get satisfactory answers to the question of if the company is ready for online outreach should you start worrying about who does that outreach. The ideal then is for the company to do it itself, but if that’s just not possible then so be it.

Pragmatism takes preference to "take it or leave it" purism. The only exception is when it comes to your ethics.

That’s my take, anyway.

What do you think?

6 Tips For Engaging Online

Online outreachIf you’re new to the social media "scene," it can be scary (just ask the folks at Motrin). For a company used to "controlling the message" through carefully crafted news releases and press conferences, engaging in it can be even scarier.

Here are six tips to help that engagement go a little more smoothly:

Disclose who you are

If you’re engaging on behalf of your employer, be up-front with that fact. That can be in your comment, in your bio (if it’s visible), in your username; whatever. Just make sure it’s clear.

I suggest this from an ethical perspective (and yes, Keith, also because of the potential backlash) – I think pretending to be something you’re not is a bad idea.

Choose your words carefully

You can make your life considerably easier by researching the questions that people are likely to have  and the issues they’re likely to raise (ask the support/customer service team!) and proposing some very rough "messages" that you can use in those cases.

I’m not talking about "messages" in the old-school communications sense. Don’t regurgitate the same thing each time someone asks a certain question. Your pre-approved set of generic points gives you a base to riff-off and helps you to avoid upsetting your boss, while still allowing you the freedom to speak directly to the other person rather than in their general direction.

Avoid bureaubabble

This relates to the "messages" I mentioned above.

Don’t become a mindless message machine.

If someone’s post just calls for a quick "thank you" then just say that! Don’t be a machine – speak like a person, because that’s what you are and that’s the expectation in these forums. While remembering that you do represent a company, be as conversational as you can.

Avoid corporate speak" wherever possible.

Ask

You’re unlikely to have the authority to make decisions for your company. If you’re not sure about something then ask.

Set parameters

Sometimes your overlords will be comfortable in trusting you to just go out and engage on the company’s behalf. If so, fantastic.

Other times, management may want a little more input into what you say.

In that cases, I have two recommendations:

  • Start to gently educate people about the nature of social media, the cultural changes they may need and the increased effectiveness that results from empowering you to engage on your own;
  • Set some parameters for your engagement.

What parameters? For starters:

  • What you’ll do
  • The options you may recommend (consider triaging posts)
  • The timelines in which your boss needs to respond (you might have better luck in not getting fired if you position this as a way to increase effectiveness rather than just setting deadlines for your boss)

Establish an engagement policy

Set an engagement policy. Lay out, in clear terms, where you’ll engage with people but more importantly, where you won’t. For example, you may want to avoid conversations involving personal attacks, offensive language or obvious trolls. State that up-front (perhaps in the ‘policies’ section of your website) so you can point to it when people ask why you didn’t engage in a particular discussion.

What other recommendations would you add for companies getting ready to engage online?

Social Media Outreach Won’t Work For Everyone

Here’s something to consider: engaging in “the conversation” won’t be right for every organization, at least at first.

Facebook isn’t a panacea for your company. Blogging may not change everyone’s perceptions of you. Twitter could be a light-year away from where you are now and, believe it or not, it may not be where you want to go right now.

Blasphemy!

No, I’m not pulling a complete 180 and saying companies shouldn’t engage using these new tools. I’m saying that companies (and we, as consultants) need to take a long, hard, considered look at their organization before engaging online.

How’s your culture?

Joe Thornley gives a great presentation on the steps companies should go through when engaging in social media. One of the early steps: take a hard look at your culture.

Shouting at people doesn't workIf your organizational culture is resistant to change, activities are rigidly controlled and everything goes through 1001 layers of approval, you’re going to find it very difficult to engage effectively online. If your blog posts will be written in bureaubabble by a committee, don’t bother.

Do you really want a conversation with people? I mean genuinely want to have a conversation; not just pay lip service to it. People can smell a fake from a long way away. If you do want this level of engagement then great. If you don’t, maybe you should just listen and learn.

If you try to leap into a two-way dialogue without this kind of critical analysis, you’re likely to engage in a way that irritates people, and you’ll create another way to piss people off. All you’re likely to succeed in doing is amplifying the voices of your dissatisfied customers.

As Valeria Maltoni wrote earlier this month, “Other customers and prospects now have the opportunity to evaluate whether they’d do business with you on the basis of your behavior.”

The road is bumpy

Head in the sand If you’re going to engage online, you need to work in a culture that is open to feedback from customers. What’s more, where it’s appropriate, you need to be open to making changes based on that.

This isn’t a smooth road, especially if you’ve had your head in the sand about your problems so far. You need to be willing to take your lumps when you get things wrong, along with the praise you’ll receive when you get things right.

People who write negative things about you aren’t necessarily trolls. Yes, trolls are out there, but the odds are high that the people writing about you are also regular customers who passionate enough about what you do (or the need you fill) that they feel the need to write about it.

When you start to think this way, you can start to see trends in the conversations; trends that can lead you to genuine problems in your company.

Be open to feedback, fix those problems and, in time, you’ll be ready to start reaching-out to people.

Remember: you’ve probably spent years ignoring what people are saying online. Another few months of not engaging while you learn and prepare within your organization won’t hurt.

Baby steps

If you’re not ready to engage yet, my advice would likely be (all other things being equal) to listen and learn from what your customers are saying:

  • Who is talking about you?
  • Where are they talking about you?
  • What do they like?
  • What do they hate?

As you go through this process, you can do two things:

  • Flag the problems that people talk about and advocate for their resolution. Is your customer service ineffective? Is the product unreliable or (heaven forbid) unsafe? Become an agent of change within your organization like Frank Eliason from Comcast on Twitter.
  • Begin to compile the case within your organization for engaging effectively.
    • I’m not suggesting you should aim to run amok without any oversight, but you need some level of autonomy and flexibility is necessary. Without any autonomy you’ll find yourself responding to comments, blog posts, Twitter messages etc. days after they were posted, at which point you’ll be (a) mocked and (b) too late to have any influence on the conversation.

</end rant>

Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to your problems. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it is.

If your own house isn’t in order or if you try to talk to people in the way you’re used to talking to them, you could be in for a world of hurt.

As Hugh MacLeod tactfully put it:

If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face.

However, if you use social media tools thoughtfully, appropriately and in the right situations, they can be effective.

Social Media Is Like Running A Marathon

Dave Fleet running the 2008 Boston I’ve written before about how social media is like distance running. That was all about the long preparation that’s involved. I’m shooting for a sub-3 hour time tomorrow in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, so I thought I’d riff a little on how you can also compare social media to the marathon race itself.

You need to prepare

You need to prepare before running a marathon. Similarly, companies need to prepare before engaging in social media. That involves listening and learning.

Find out who is out there and what they’re saying about you. Where are discussions happening? What are the most influential sites? What is the tone of the discussions?

If people are complaining, learn from it. Consider fixing the things they’re complaining about.

Runners take baby steps towards a marathon. They’ll run a 5km race, a 10km or 10-miler and maybe a half-marathon before launching into the big one. Companies should generally do the same. Launch straight into a big push online and you may crash and burn.

One approach doesn’t fit all situations

If I stand at the starting line tomorrow and it’s cold, windy and raining on Toronto’s waterfront, I’m going to change how I run the race compared to how I’d run if it’s hot and humid.

The same principle applies to social media engagement. You need to take different approaches depending on your environment.

While you should be open, genuine and honest in all of your interactions, you’re going to take a different approach to interacting on Facebook (perhaps starting your own page or group, or launching an app) than you are in reaching out to bloggers, engaging people on Twitter or launching an effort on YouTube.

It’s going to hurt sometimes

They say (as do I) that a marathon really starts at the 30km point. Everything before 30km is about getting to that point without tiring yourself out. The reality, though, is that it’s going to hurt at some point regardless of what you do.

The same is true of social media. No matter what you do, the chances are high that someone is going to disagree with what you’re doing at some point.

The good news is that by engaging online, you can give your side of the story. Remember that these people were saying the same thing about you before; you just couldn’t hear them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t saying it. Engaging gives you a chance to respond.

It’s all about the results

This one’s a little more personal: I run for the result; for the accomplishment. The 42.2km before that? That’s the road to the result. It’s the time I record that gives me the satisfaction – it’s how I measure the return on all those months of training.

What’s the return on investment for your social media engagement (and before that, what’s your objective)? How do you measure it? Do you track the sales from people who visit your blog, like Bill Marriott does? Do you track the tone of online coverage like Dell? Do you look at the topics of discussion and figure out ways to improve your business processes? Are you after volume of discussion?

How do you measure success?


There you have it – once again, I’ve found that my biggest passion correlates well with my day job.

Does this ring true for you? What other sports have similarities to the social media sphere?