Social Media Marketing: Use data and metrics to transition from wallflower to life of the party

In middle school, I was fairly cerebral. OK, some would say nerdy. And while that mindset certainly paid off in the classroom, it didn’t help much at the middle school dance. My younger self would have delighted at being able to read a book that held the secrets to being the life of the party. I even tried exploring my trusty encyclopedia set (remember those) for an answer.

Children DancingI share the awkwardness of my formative years because I believe that when it comes to social media, most experienced marketers are little more than brace-faced thirteen-year-olds staring at Twitter and Facebook like a poster of New Kids on the Block – you know deep-down a perfect marriage exists but just don’t know how to make it happen.

So I was delighted to hear that our sister company, MarketingSherpa, is close to releasing its second Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report. The subtitle, “Data and Insights for Mapping an Effective Social Marketing Strategy,” highlights what has largely been missing from the social media discussion over the past few years – real substance.

By combating the ample hype with an ROI-based strategy, I hope this benchmark study can guide marketers in the transition from, as Senior Analyst Sergio Balegno puts it, “novice to competent practitioner capable of achieving social marketing objectives and proving ROI.” And Sergio and his team hope to provide the guidance to get you there. As he says, “To make this leap, marketers will need benchmark data to help them better understand what works (and what doesn’t) in social media marketing, and a practical method for mapping a strategy that will lead them to social marketing success.”

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MarketingSherpa let me have an early, pre-publication peak at their data and share one of my favorite insights with you on the blog today. The 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report has 188 charts and tables, and the one below really caught my eye…

Marketing Sherpa[click to enlarge]

The most effective tactic shown in the chart above – blogger relations – is used by far fewer organizations than less effective tactics primarily because of the effort required. At first glance, I thought the lesson from this chart is to start amping up blogger relations immediately.

But, as always with social media, hopping on the first thing one sees is the easy (and least effective) approach. And that’s what this chart is really showing. Too often, marketers focus on fast and easy ways to make use of social media instead of leveraging the most effective ways. Since social media is essentially free, why bother if something requires too much effort? Of course, in reality, social media is not free. You must invest a significant amount of time to do it right.

According to the Benchmark Report, “This focus on ‘fast and easy’ versus effectiveness is a problem that is far more prevalent with organizations in the trial phase of social marketing maturity than with more advanced social marketers working from a strategic social marketing plan.”

You see, in the end the most profitable approach to this new medium isn’t so new after all. Be strategic. Twitter is a tactic, not a strategy. And the real perfect marriage occurs when you pair proven marketing principles from your overall plan with social media tactics that make sense in your overall strategy.

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You probably intrinsically know that this is the right thing to do, but I hope this little reminder helps you stay focused on what really works for your company as you execute on your 2010 plan. As for marrying the cute one from New Kids on the Block…I’ve got no advice to help you there.

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