One Formula to Unite them All
Being tired one day of all the so called “Experts” of social media spouting how great their respective digital tools will save you from the social sphere miasma, I decided to look at the problem of social media from a different viewpoint, and from a perspective that has never been a strength of mine…math!
There are many “experts” out there that market their tool expertise, lets say Facebook for example, and tout on how Facebook, properly executed, can increase your business’s social visibility, social awareness, and sales, and so on. The issue I have from that approach is that they are touting a single, specific tool to solve a much larger problem. Kind of like teaching someone how to use a hammer, when the ultimate problem is that you need a house.
I decided to look at social media tools from a strategic perspective. I view social media as messaging. It doesn’t ultimately matter what tool you use, but your end result is that you want to get a message across to someone.
How about a simple, visual way to help someone decide what level of value their messaging would have, and a way to plug in various social media tools to see how they affect that value? Hence the Social media value formula was born. A single formula, that works no matter what the tool is.
The fundamental value of your message. This is highly subjective, but will be used as a comparison to other social/digital media tools to help you determine how valuable your message is.
There is no numerical value, no 1,100, 50, + or – attached. It is designed to be subjective so that you can process numerous iterations of your message through different tools to see how they stack up with each other. If you do somehow figure out a numerical value to this, by all means please let me know, this formula is a living/breathing document and I would love to have other’s input and feedback on it.
Whatever tool you use, you will gain a higher message value by having a higher perceived effort. For example: We all know how easy it is to be on Twitter, and simply send a tweet from your smart phone, in this example, the PE is very low, since most people know how easy it is. However, if your same audience receives a message from you via an email newsletter, the PE value will be higher, since it is commonly known that it takes more time and effort to write and send a newsletter post, then a tweet. How about a hand written letter mailed to the user personally? That would score a much higher perceived effort. (And don’t assume it is actual effort, making it look kike you spent considerable effort, but haven’t, is where your skills as a crafty marketer come into play.)
The secret in the PE, is that you always want to be looking for the latest tools or tricks that enable your message to have a high PE, but low actual effort. Or a work flow approach where you remove the effort from you to a more efficient system. (Example: your administrative assistant sends out a hand written note, and you just sign it)
Your audience will have a perceived cost of your message, and the higher the PC, the higher the value. The secret here is again to always be on the lookout for ways to share your message that “look” expensive to produce, but are in fact not. Remember the first blogs that came out years ago? Early adopters to this medium gained huge advances to their messaging since it was at one time a perceived difficult task. Now, anyone can set up a blog in minutes, so a blog site does not have the same power as before.
Technology usually places the biggest role in PE and PC, since you can find a new tool, or aggregate tool that enables you to manage multiple social media feeds. The sooner you can adopt a new tool or technology that leverages the power of the PE and PC the better.
The more known you are in the eyes of your audience, or the more knowledgeable you are, the higher the message value. As you become more known in a certain area or field of knowledge, your messages carry more weight and your message value improves. Typically your C factor will rise if your other elements of the formula rise. It can be used as a good ”reality check” to make sure you are not overly expecting your audience to be waiting with baited breath on your every word.
How do you increase your C factor?
As you share more valuable information, your C will automatically rise. Outside of social media its easy to gain your reputation by just doing anything that raises awareness in your field. It could be a seminar at a Chamber of Commerce, it could be a feature of you in a local paper, anything that you do for your business that has a public facing element helps your celebrity status.
You should always be aware that in any messaging there is a chance that it could go viral, good viral or bad. With any social media tool, you should always be aware of what you could do, or not do to increase your message value. And don’t think of the V factor in the message content, use the factor knowledge as something to be used in your business logic, your best practices, or how you manage employees or set direction. For example: If you have an employee manage a company Twitter feed, do you have an internal process where someone else has to validate the messaging? One poorly timed or misspelled Tweet could go Viral in a negative way and damage your company. On the flipside, does your employee who manages the Twitter also take into account using trending news articles in their messaging, thus increasing a chance it could go Viral in a good way? Just some things to think about.
My definition of Viral is simple, “anything that is worth sharing with someone else.” Always have this in the back of your mind in whatever tools you use. You want to increase your positive viral chances, while minimizing the negative.
More details on what Viral can mean to an organization, and how you can harness the power of the Viral, good OR bad can be found here.
There was a great quote about Facebook friends that states, if you think Facebook sucks, then maybe your friends suck; a more lighthearted way of saying that the quality of your network is only as good as the people inside of it. This concept is just as important in the digital realm as it is in real life. If you have a business process of taking every business card you come across and plot them into an email newsletter, well, you must expect that the NQ would be lower than a curated mailing list geared towards a specific market.
In the social media world, it’s normal to have multiple networks of people. Don’t assume you have to lump everyone into the same network group. A great exercise would be an evaluation of every contact you have in your business and prioritize them. Different messaging might be useful depending on the level of importance to your business.
Putting it all together:
The formula should be used as a conceptual tool when creating your marketing strategy. Each method of messaging should be plugged in the formula to help you understand where you need to put more or less focus, and how much effort into updating social media tool chest.
In its very basic form, it will help you re-frame your messaging so that you get a better perspective on the potential value of your message.
I will discuss in more detail how this formula can help you set a strategy for your messaging on September 1, 2013. I’ll go over some examples of current popular social media tools and you will quickly see how you can tweak each tool to your advantage.