It is nearly impossible these days to find a business that does not invite customers to follow it on Twitter and like it on Facebook. At the same time, many companies are creating a lot of chatter with very little to show for it. To help businesses get better results, social media experts Chris Brogan and Julien Smith combined their experiences and insights in their new book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? Associate Editor Judith Aquino caught up with Brogan to get a glimpse into what businesses can do to rise above the noise in social media.
CRM: What led the two of you to write The Impact Equation?
Chris Brogan: People thought social media was going to be this cure-all. It's [more like] a set of tools. Once people master the tools, they still have to apply them to conducting business. A lot more companies and individuals are invested in the space and using these tools now, but they're frustrated by their lack of results.
CRM: How can the tips in The Impact Equation be applied to a marketing campaign?
Brogan: This is a book about how to have better ideas, spread those ideas across a better platform, and nurture a community and hopefully encourage [the community's members] to act like a network. You can see how that has every component of marketing, but it's not directly a book about marketing.
Any campaign can benefit from the 'Impact Attributes,' which include the following:
- Contrast: How does my idea stand out?
- Reach: How do I get my idea seen far and wide? (Distribution is always a goal of marketing.)
- Exposure: This is the backbone of what advertising does…the number of times we see an idea [or product] before we buy it.
- Articulation: If people understand me better, they spread the word.
- Trust: This is where most marketers fall down hard, and yet it's what consumers want most.
- Echo: Can I [the customer] see myself in your idea?
CRM: Could a brand have an echo quality without trust?
Brogan: Maybe. Echo means you see yourself in a brand, and if you don't care if it's trustworthy, then maybe you don't see yourself as a trustworthy person [laughs]. If it's just about price, companies that only care about offering the lowest price won't last long. You have to be the kind of marketer who wants to do relationship-based selling rather than transaction-based selling.
CRM: What mistakes do companies make when trying to broaden their audience or impact through social media?
Brogan: Brands quite often think of this as "fire and forget." Most people want a two-way conversation with a brand. Does that take longer? Yes, no doubt about it. But why bother doing that if you're going to fire and forget?
CRM: What are some brands that have an effective social media strategy? What makes them effective?
Brogan: Brands that use social media as part of their overall business strategy and are doing it well are Pepsico—they've built out the Refresh project to mix philanthropy with social interactions; Colonnade Hotel—Boston's best version of human-to-human online concierge-class service, sales, and lead generation; and The Corcoran Group. Their work on Google+ is award-worthy.
CRM: What would you recommend companies use to measure the impact of their social media campaigns?
Brogan: Never measure any of the social numbers. Measure hard numbers: Dollars. Subscriptions. Members. Pass-ons. You never care who likes something, how many followers one has, and how many views you have.
CRM: Do you see any value in using social media measurement systems like Kred and Klout?
Brogan: No. Not even a tiny bit. The fact that my Klout score is near [that of] several professional athletes should immediately tell you that the system is not exactly smart. It's also kind of wishy-washy—if I have a high Klout score, does that mean I can drive your choice in cars, or can I just convince you what book to buy? Because companies like Microsoft just put a huge investment in Klout, you can't rule out that they're possibly going to go somewhere…but I find zero value in them.
CRM: What tips can you offer to companies that they can implement to inject more impact into their ad campaigns?
Brogan: Make [the ads] two-way. Can we get back to you? Not your stupid ad. YOU. A human. Give the campaign a social angle. Wieden+Kennedy did this amazingly well with the Old Spice campaign last year. It was a huge win on YouTube. Make people the focus. Any ads that talk up the community instead of the product win big. Honda['s] supporting musicians is [resulting in] a big uptick in their brand, doubly so because of social media. Ditto Budweiser launching a huge live YouTube concert series.