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.