The future of social media is in the shift from ‘doing social’ to ‘being social’.

Today – there are many owners of social media, let alone digital, within an organization.  Social media forces marketing, PR, customer service, and other departments to work together.

When you get many owners of social, the business starts to understand how social plays an intimate role in what they do.  That social is a behavior, a philosophy, a new way of operating and not a simple tactic –  that social evolves from a function to a discipline.   When business understand this, they will shift.

Employees will become digital citizens, its experts surfaced to its consumers, and act socially on an enterprise level.

But the pathway to becoming social is held back for two major reasons:

1.  Social media is relegated to a junior person on the marketing and PR team.

Importantly, I’m not trying to undermine what often is a passionate, intelligent,  social savvy crusader.   Social moves forward in a companies due to a crusader, a crisis or executive level support.   But that said, the crusader method of organizational change is a rare one.

My rant — as a result of a junior appointment,  these social media leaders deal with rounding error budgets, may have engagement that is more damaging to the brand than helpful.  They focus on tactics not strategies  (Should I advertise on Linkedin?, I have followers on foursquare, now what do I do?.. you know the situation).  They are operational players and may not even be responsible for strategy.  They often measure the wrong things.

When you understand that the future of social is becoming a social brand – you see that the number of digital owners must increase.  There will be required alignment to strategies and plans.  Cross functional leadership puts a heavy load on a junior social media individual.   These social media specialists are promoted to their level of incompetence.

2. People measure the wrong things in social media
I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to measurement.  I believe measurement is a systemic, abominable situation in most organizations.  Really.

When I measure for success, I focus on  4-5 different categories.  Market, Recruitment, Engagement and Conversion/ Monetization.

  • Recruitment, or traffic includes the volume and size of your social presence, your rate of growth, hopefully compared to the industry.
  • Engagement typically includes metrics that measure the level of interaction between your customers and your content and/or own community management.   You can dive deeper into analyzing influencers, etc.
  • Conversion represents a focus on moving customers to action.  You can include or separate out monetization metrics.  [I like separating then – consider relabeling KPI – key performance indicators to key purchase indicators – it gives focus to what metric individuals are looking for]
  • Other – where I can, I like cross reference metrics to validate the integrity of the data.. but I digress.

The problem with much of the social media success metrics – is traffic is the domain that people stay in.  They don’t broaden to look past traffic to engagement and conversion metrics.  They only measure, and so are only concerned with, 1/3 of their success.    These tend to be the same people who don’t believe SoMe can deliver ROI.  Well no wonder.

This was the crux of a recent keynote I delivered at IBM’s Retail Fall Showcase recently, invited by retail futurist, former colleague and friend @drodgerson – sharing the stage with two very impressive gods – deep analytical genius @eeksock and global retail emerging tech deep sme @smarterretail.   I was grateful to be honest with a crowd of 200 retailers/ibmers on my frustrations.   My full presentation is available from my linkedin profile – through slideshare.. [linked above].  Presentations from the event are also available.