Earlier this week, we (Ed Major and I) launched a new company called Orca Social as we see a need for large B2B companies to make better use of social technologies. Visit the website here.
The key for B2B companies is to learn to do social from within. The alternative is grim: If they engage external resources it becomes costly, slow and inauthentic. And, even more important, they miss out on the chance to break the silos and nurture a culture on which you can scale the social efforts to include e.g. social selling, social media customer service, social listening, internal collaboration etc. Continue reading “Introducing Orca Social, a member-based social media consultancy”
Social media managers today can be divided into two groups (roughly speaking, of course):
1. Those who stick to hard metrics and let data determine their decisions.
2. Those who trust their intuition and just go ahead and post what they feel is right.
So what group do you belong to? Well, you should belong to both.
Out of the blue comes… nothing
As written earlier, if you apply social science and the concept of ‘social creativity‘ it becomes evident that you cannot be successful in social if you cannot perform social creativity, i.e. if you’re not capable of adding something new (that’s the creative part) and value adding to the social group you’re engaging with.
However, social creativity very rarely adds value if it’s not rooted in the a firm understanding of the behaviour and history of that social group.
This leads to a very clear conclusion about what social media managers should do in order to be successful:
1. Use metrics, data, theory and knowledge to give you a firm understanding, and keep measuring so you can get even wiser down the road – but don’t use data to decide what you post, when you post it etc.
Data should be used to review the past.
2. Make sure to maintain an explorative, improvisational and authentic approach on a day-to-day basis, and try to avoid setting up very tangible, quantitative goals for the performance of your social media programme – in a social game, it’s just not right to judge a success only by the numbers.
The human touch, the intuition should guide the now, i.e. content creation and the actual posting (don’t pre-plan any posts!).
The more long-term, strategic decisions (the future) should be based on a combination of the two.
That being said, I realise that there are quite big differences between brands and industries.
For instance, in a start-up phase in social you don’t have much data and will tend to put more weight on the explorative part.
But when quantity and data is in place, the mode will likely – or should – shift to a more data-driven approach – even on a day-to-day level (again, depending on the brand and the strategy).
When embarking on social media most companies ask themselves: “What do we get out of this? What’s the ROI? And how do we measure it?”
While this kind of thinking seems reasonable, and quite logical too, I believe it also poses a big problem for most companies, not least B2B companies where an actual conversion is often far away.
Actually, I have reason to believe that today hard metrics are hampering at least every second B2B social media programme around the world. Why? Because hard metrics force the companies down a path that’s too rigid and focused on short-term success.
While the discussion of what success means in a social context is often neglected social media managers end up navigating according to hard metrics with limited ability to manoeuver and be creative, i.e. find new ways that add value.
Writing the script as we go along
Let’s backtrack a bit and ask ourselves what kind of rules or logic we should apply when engaging in social media: Is it business rules or social rules?
The answer is evident: Business rules don’t apply. Social media is about the users connecting, and companies rely on the users’ mercy.
So it must be social rules then, right?
No, not really. Because there are no rules for how to be social. As Darwin taught us, the world is changing constantly, and we as human beings therefore need to improvise, not least when it comes to being social.
We need to write the manuscript as we go along.
This goes to tell that there’s a basic creativity aspect in our lives: We’re creating the social in every now, and we need to be creative in order to be successful in social life.
Translating this into a company’s social media engagement means that creativity and ability to improvise is necessary in order to engage successfully. Plans and measurements only make sense insofar they improve our ability to perform “social creativity”.
Here, creativity doesn’t mean something strange or even mad. It’s something we all do. Creativity is when we create something new that adds value in the given situation or context.
An end in itself
You might even claim that “social creativity” is the true engine behind the progress of mankind. Our social nature and structure is what has made us successful (“we did it together”), and being social is therefore an end in itself.
In other words, the ultimate goal with any social media campaign must ‘simply’ be to create new and better ways to be social. And in that scheme of things soft (qualitative) metrics are much more valuable than the hard (quantitative) ones.