Daily Archives: February 20, 2013

Understanding the Value of Social Media with Olivier Blanchard

As a first year Information Management graduate student looking to pursue a career in social media either as a social media strategist or a community manager, I found our class talk with Oliver Blanchard, author of “Social Media ROI” to be very informative. One question in particular which Oliver was asked that was most intriguing to me dealt with the idea of “how to make companies understand the value of social media.” Furthermore, as a low-level worker involved with social media, when reporting metrics and success of your work to higher-level authority, how do you truly convince and explain that social media is important and leading to success?


Oliver Blanchard’s response to this question was very interesting. He explained that it is very stressful trying to sell the value of social media, however he believes a good place to start is internally. Blanchard suggested meeting with decision makers within the company, and asking them what you can do to help them. He continued to explain that by listening to their answers to this question, in most cases you will be learning how you can help them sell things using social channels and your community. Blanchard goes on to say that in understanding what everyone wants and wants to accomplish within the company, they will have to start thinking about social media and your social activity as a tool and driver for whatever they are chasing. Therefore, they will start to come to you with questions and requests and in the end you will start looking at data and content differently.

I found this suggestion to be very accurate and a great way to start in convincing your company that social media is of value. In an article from the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Measuring—and Capturing—the Value of Social Media” three other ways in which you can show the value of social media are outlined.

1. Going with the Flow

2. Forming R.E.A.L Relationships

3. Getting Engaged

The first way the article describes that is useful is called, “going with the flow.” Essentially what this means is that by looking at the flow of information, social media “can actively express brand value through the newly visible flows of non-monetary economic value that traverse social networks. Perhaps most important, these flows can now be identified, measured, and converted into financial equivalents, thus enabling organizations to aggregate the disparate forms of returns into a more traditional view.” The flows of information suggested to watch for include, data, labor, capital, and customer’s attention which all represent flows within a business system.

The second way, “forming R.E.A.L. relationships,” explains that it is important for companies to “strive for relationships with customers that are “R.E.A.L.”: Reciprocal, Empathetic, Authentic, and Long-lasting.” Relationships that contain these values, help a company provide efficient and consistent communication and collaboration, and can therefore provide better opportunities to increase profitability. The third and final way, “getting engaged” relates to forming relationships. Essentially, the more engaged your company is, the greater the ability to “win the hearts, hands, minds and wallets of its market.”

To truly express the value of social media, start internally, as suggested by Oliver Blanchard. Once this step is taken, work on developing relationships with your clients which will ultimately lead to a better understanding and grasp on your market.



Looking Beyond Superficial Measurements

cmgrclass roiHaving Olivier Blanchard join us for our #CMGRclass hangout was a great opportunity. He had insightful comments and answers to our questions. His book, Social Media ROI, is about managing and measuring social media efforts and it was helpful and interesting to hear directly from the author.

This response from Olivier really stood out to me:

You need to know how to measure and operate outside of superficial measurements such as follower numbers. Because once social media efforts start failing, organizations can buy followers to keep those numbers up, but they don’t really mean anything if they are not real.

The first step in figuring out what your company or organization needs to measure is figuring out what your main goals are. Here are a few examples:

  • Increased participation from community members
  • More sales of your product or service
  • Increase awareness of your company/organization
  • Monetary donations from your community members

Social Media Engine has a great article on “Social Media ROI: How to Develop a Strategic Plan” that will provide you with more information on how to define and develop a strategic plan for your organization.

Although followers on social networking sites are important, those numbers only go so far. You may see an organization that has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, but do they know anything about their followers, are they interacting with them, are they engaging?

In addition to measuring follower numbers, here are a two (of the many) things that I believe community and social media managers should be measuring and tracking:

1. Social media interaction

facebook insightsAs your community grows, it is important to track what kind of content they like. Does a certain type of Facebook post get more likes than another? Did you have an unusually low or unusually high amount of retweets on a particular tweet? Did a blog post get a crazy number of shares? If you track the interactions you have with your community members you will get a better idea of what they like and don’t like. That way you can produce the content they are looking for.

Suggested tools: Facebook insights, HootSuite, Bit.ly, Google Analytics.

2. Number of online relationships that turn into real life relationships

tumblr meet upGaining followers online is just the beginning; developing a relationship with each follower is the difficult part. A really great way to connect with your online community on another level, is to host events. Although online relationships are valuable and can be very strong, they cannot completely replace the importance of interacting with someone in person. When you host events, keep a guest list and track who keeps coming back. Chances are the people who attend your events are also the ones who are highly active in your community online. Building real live relationships can make your online community that much stronger.

Suggested tools: Meetup.com, Tumblr Meetups


What measurements are most important when managing your community? What are your favorite tools to use? Please share!