Not the next best thingA new network, tool or feature launches on a social network and we all flock to it.  Business leaders attend social media class after social media class searching for the social media “guru” who will once and for all be able to show them the magic answer to social media ROI. I don't think I have ever taught a social media workshop or seminar when there wasn't someone at the end of the class that asks “can't you just tell me the exact top 3 things I need to do to make social media work for my business?”

It's not about the next big thing!
Quit waiting and looking for the next social network that is going to save your business. Quit brainstorming 40 hours a week for the innovative campaign that is going to enable you to quit your job and retire to the Bahamas. Success is not going to come from Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or a high Klout score alone. Success will follow integration, proper planning and execution of a plan that aligns with your business and marketing goals.  Twitter followers, high influence scores, and Facebook likes will organically come with the execution of a plan that connects your target markets, community and partners with your brand.

There is no magic pill.
There is no “guru” that will ever be able to show you the social media cheaters recipe book or short cut formula to social relationships, fans on Facebook, community growth and a return on investment. If a consultant or agency informs you that they have the perfect answer to your problems and all you need is a Facebook page, run, Forrest run! Chances are they are ready to sell you nothing more than a set of random acts of social media (RAMs). RAMs are bad and although they make you feel good short term as you can cross tasks off your list, longer term they eat any sign of return on investment faster than you can measure it!

social media roiIt's about more than ROI.
How can you ask to measure something that you can't define? Quit looking at only the numbers and focus on social business success. Set goals that are attainable, measurable and time bound. The real questions include the ability to make decisions based upon the learning. How is social enabling you to become a better business? Are you improving customer satisfaction? Is brand equity increasing? Is brand loyalty improving? Are you building deeper relationships with your clients and partners. How are you using the insights learned via social listening and engagement to make improvements in your business?

Number of followers, likes & comments does not = success!
100,000 Twitter followers and 50,000 Facebook likes is not going to guarantee your business a return. Of course we all want to have the largest possible network that is on the edge of their seat waiting to listen and take note on our every word. However, the focus should be on an engaged audience. We need followers and a community that cares what we have to say. They need to see value in what we offer and understand how and why we can help them meet their business goals. A large number of followers increases the voice you have. However, your voice must offer more than noise for success. Seth Godin recently wrote a good post on this topic which I encourage you read “The Trap of Social Media Noise.”  Dare to be more than noise. Be the value that makes your community think when they wake up at 2:00 am!

Integration into the DNA of business  is a requirement, not an option.
Achieving a financial return on your investment is not going to happen by simply launching a Facebook page, building a Twitter following or launching and nurturing a LinkedIn group. The only way you are going to achieve success is if you figure out how to integrate social media into the DNA of your business. Doing such will require building bridges within your organization for people to work together, systems to integrate, training of staff and the ability to execute one vision while in the middle of a sea of change. It requires the development and evolution of process, measurement systems and a framework that supports such.

It's going to take work.
Evolving your organization into a social business is not going to happen overnight. It's going to take work. Real work. Roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and make it happen. There is no “guru” that will be able to give you the magic 3 steps you need to take for success.

social media relevancyThere is no cookie cutter template for becoming a social business.
Every organization is different. What works for you is not a recipe for success for me. We have different goals, different objectives. Our communities want to engage with us in different ways. We have unique partners, brand positioning and more. Just because we can both launch a Facebook page, Twitter profile and blog doesn't mean we should do it the same way.

One thing is certain, things are going to change.
There is one thing that is the same for every business who sets a goal to become a social business. Things are guaranteed to change. Throw out your old thinking, rules and even some of the old processes. What use to work to measure success is not the same as what works today. You can't control the message, who delivers it when and where. Social media is dynamic, fluid, evolving and filled with movement. Trying to put a finger on it to keep it constant is simply not possible.  Embrace it. Learn to love and grow with the change and you will then be able to evolve with the ecosystem versus being left behind.

social media relationship life raftSocial relationships are the lift raft to tech evolution.
In a world of tech evolution and a new social network popping up every week there is no lack of things to do each day. We could spend every day learning the next tool or “big thing.” However, this approach is a recipe for disaster if you don't have a community ready to follow you to that new shiny object social network.

Social relationships take time to nurture. There are no short cuts. You must get in the head of your audiences, community, Facebook “likers” and blog readers. You need to learn what it is they want. How can you help them achieve their business goals? What can you do for them today, tomorrow and next month?

How can you build a relationship with the people of your online and offline communities that will weather the storm of tech evolution? If you have a loyal and engaged community that cares what you have to say because you bring them value, it doesn't matter what social network you are on. If the new shiny social network becomes the next “big thing” chances are they will follow you to it.

Quit whining and do something about it!
As you enter 2012 it's important to quit making up excuses. I don't want to hear you have no budget, no resource or a plan. Get over it. I started my business after being laid off, husband laid off. We had just moved into a new big house and were in debt up to our eyeballs. I had one goal and that was to succeed. You must do the same.

If you have a staff of “nay sayers” who refuse to accept change, then fire them and replace them with people who want to ride the waves of social change with you.  If you don't have the right tools and tech, then prioritize so that you do. Make the necessary decisions to enable success. Deal with the skeletons in the closet now. Build a plan for success versus whining about why you can't. For me Plan B, Plan C and Plan D were just a modified version of Plan A , which had to work. Failure is not an option. Don't be a business that is left behind in 2012. Be a business others learn from. Get out there and get-r-done peeps!

Your Turn
So what is your story? Have you been looking for the magic pill? The next best thing to help you achieve success as a social business? Is 2012 the year you are going to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, take the skeletons out of the closet and get-r-done? If you've already made good strides, what is it that helped you? How did you get the ball moving within the organization. Please share your experiences so you can help others. We are all better as a team helping one another than we are as silos in a sea of change.  

35 Social Media Truths
This post is part of a series on social business I am working on “35 Social Media Truths” inspired by keynote presentation I gave at Rochester Institute of  Technology. If you want to hear more, sign up for the 35 Social Media Truths Newsletter and you will receive all 35 of them over a period of time. Included will be different mediums such as free webinars, video, blog posts and more.


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