Social Media 2010 – Wow, This Is Hard

201001201057.jpgIt is true of any “great new thing” – our initial estimate of the work required is drastically underestimated. There are a litany of examples:

  • CRM
  • ERP
  • Service Oriented Architecture
  • Outsourcing (particularly off-shore)
  • Online Self-Service

Now, finally, we can add Social Media to that list. There have been a flurry of posts reacting to The MarketingProfs report The State Of Social Media Marketing – including one by Brian Solis that is particularly compelling.

In 2010, executives will measure ROI and the direct impact of social media marketing on the P&L. In order to do so, management will experience three phases.

The first will reveal that measuring social media marketing, as practiced to date, is essentially meaningless. …

Second, management will grasp the true cost of social media. In 2010, social media will cease to be free. …

Third, as the entire organization socializes affected departments, strategists will embrace a holistic and informed approach to engagement. …

I’m hard pressed to disagree with any of that. As a matter of fact, I’d actually like to expand on it in three ways:

First, in 2010 executives will measure ROI and the direct impact of social media efforts in multiple organizations. This means marketing will become just one organization using Social Media to improve practices, processes and ultimately the end to end customer experience a brand provides. We will see internal focus shift from “who is paying attention and responding to this” to “who is analyzing, interpreting and acting on this”.

Second, social media metrics and measurement will be highly individualized to the culture, strengths and temperament of the company. And this is as it should be. Intuit is very different than EA – and given that it is vital that the outcomes they pursue and the metrics they measure should be unique to them and the unique demographics of their target markets.

Third, management will begin to see social media as an enterprise wide activity funded at the enterprise level. No longer will social media be a line item on a PR or marketing budget. Multiple organizations will have social media initiatives, tool requirements and staff engaged in social media activities. Support for these activities will begin to be centralized (TIP: Look out IT – 2011 will be the year IT will have to deliver enterprise Social Media integration).

Brian Solis comes to this conclusion:

As a result, social media marketers will shred the cookie-cutter manual and expand the focus based on real world activity. This is social media marketing with a purpose.

I’d offer this slightly broadened version:

Social media will develop from a niche marketing/PR activity into a full blown enterprise solution. As with most enterprise solutions (CRM/ERP) the implementation will be highly customized to the objectives, culture and target market of the company. The solution will be required to achieve real, tangible outcomes measurable in terms of existing business metrics (e.g., revenue, sales, costs, etc).

Yep, Social Media for Business is going to be hard. There will be a lot of work making the promises a reality. It won’t transform your company overnight, but it can transform your ability to better tune your business to your target market – and by doing so grow your market share. The question is, how bad do you want it?

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