In many businesses, the people who really control the social media presence aren’t the creative directors, rather they are the people who control the social media department’s budget.
Often, their way of determining whether social media is worth it isn’t a system that’s particularly good at dealing with social capital. It means while the practice of a social media campaign can’t be about money, the results must be.
An unwieldy asset
Because the real bosses of a social media campaign are often accountants and MBAs, they tend to be trained to count things – usually in terms of dollars – and analyse what they’ve counted. It’s why most businesses only operate in terms of tangible assets – things that are verifiable, controllable, liquefiable and non-volatile. Just what you do with intangible assets has always been a big elephant in the accounting room. Social media, however, is the most powerful way to work with the catch-all intangible asset of ‘goodwill’ that business has ever had. It’s powerful precisely because the power is shared between business and customer – and where power is shared, control is given up.
How does a budget controller tally that up on a balance sheet with any confidence?
Proving you matter
Paradoxically, a good social media manager spends a lot of time justifying their existence because the standards by which social media functions are not the standards by which it is resourced. In justifying their existence, what these social media managers are really doing is translating the qualitative response their campaigns get – in terms of engagement, loyalty and brand awareness – into a quantitative form that can mesh with general business operations.
Simply, they turn the user emotion of each share/like/follow into a verifiable, controllable, liquefiable and non-volatile number.
It’s similar to the fact that while you can’t buy friends, you can invest in them and by their reciprocal investment be said to ‘have’ them. So, while a social media manager might be able to precisely identify the results of their campaign, they won’t be able to precisely identify why the campaign audience responded in that way. There are hundreds of ways to test results and thus infer this reason. As usual in business, the simplest ones are the most powerful.
A straightforward tracking of metrics pre- and post-campaign is one of the most reliable ways to get a solid answer to questions like:
- Has your repeat business gone up?
- Have you received more enquiries?
- Have you attracted more site traffic and a bump in affiliate advertising?
From quantifying these results a good social media manager can isolate what occurred that yielded them. This is the sort of stuff that clients love about Mash Media: a results-first focus allied with the analytical nous to give them the rationale for why.
Counting the numberless
In one way, social media managers have inherited the fuzzy legacy of goodwill accounting while being able capitalise that asset in an unprecedented way. If the people who do the counting are leery of what social media can do, it must be explained in terms they understand.
The social media manager can also point out that every business already has a social media presence whether they are ready or not. They can also point out that when the business pro-actively and responsively engages with that presence, while the business can’t ‘own’ it, it can lead it. After all, the business has a strategy and the users don’t.
As social media is now a non-negotiable for every business, it also means the accountants and MBAs must accept that social media is never going to be neat.
It will always be uncomfortable for linear thinkers who are good at controlling tangible assets, however, there are reliable tools that turn goodwill and positive social media engagement into a valid number on their balance sheets.
If you’re wondering how your social media effects your bottom line, call Mash Media today 1300 00 6274 (MASH).