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Best Paths to Effective Social Media Strategy



Once managers have a set of objectives in place for their social media efforts and understand that consumers are motivated to make investments in companies’ social media efforts through their interactions with the brand, the next step is to consider



the strategic options for social media measurement.

Our simple 2 × 2 framework, which assumes the manager has a social media effort ongoing, neatly summarizes the choices managers face as they strive to develop social media strategy and suggests better (and worse) paths toward social media success. (See “Strategic Options for Social Media Measurement.”)

Let’s start with the “dead end.” In this scenario, the marketer has only a limited ability to measure his social media efforts (fuzzy) and believes that his efforts are not working (failing). Managers find themselves in this quadrant as a result of the “throw it on the wall and see what sticks” strategy and perform arbitrary changes with no way to measure their impact.
Because measurement is fuzzy and the effort’s effectiveness appears to be failing, the manager has little insight or idea on what to do. The outcome is fairly predictable: The manager will give up on social media efforts or continue efforts that involve random adjustments without data support. This quadrant is a dead end. You don’t want to get stuck here!

Next is “measure and adjust.” In this scenario, the marketer has a reasonable ability to quantify his social media efforts, and these measurements lead him to believe that his efforts are not working (failing). This is distinctly different than the “dead end” scenario, because even though the manager does not believe he is succeeding, at least he is making some attempt to measure social media effectiveness. Since the components are being measured, there are probably some goodclues about what is going wrong. This means the manager can evaluate and adjust the social media strategy accordingly. If the manager can do this well, he can move toward the “iterate for success” quadrant. In that space, the marketer has both a reasonable ability to measure his social media efforts (quantifiable) and the belief that his efforts are working (succeeding). Since the components are being measured, the manager can purposefully iterate to improve even more. This is hard to do but obviously worth the effort.

The other path is “naïve optimist.” Here, the marketer has only a limited ability to measure his social media efforts (fuzzy), yet believes that his efforts are working (succeeding). We believe most marketers actually start here. They believe social media are worth the effort, but are not quite sure how best to measure their efforts. This quadrant is tricky because although it is a reasonable place to start, you want to move out of it as fast as possible so you don’t get stuck here.

Managers have two good options for moving from “naïve optimism” to “iterate for success” and on poor choice. Let us examine the poor choice first.

If the manager does not change anything, he will likely migrate to the “dead end.” This is because the lack of measurement will eventually lead to deterioration in the effort’s effectiveness over time, particularly as competitors are able to do it better.

There are two better options. First, the manager simply starts to measure social media efforts, discovers things are not working as well as they could be (“measure and adjust”) and then directs his efforts toward “iterate for success.” In the shorter path, the manager starts measuring and discovers the efforts are succeeding, moving directly to “iterate for success” from “naïve optimism.” In either case, the goal is to move away from fuzzy measurement and toward quantifiable metrics where the manager can get a real handle on what is working and what is not and then follow the best path that will get him where he needs to go.

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