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Social Media for CEOs: It's NOT about the ROI

social-networkIf you’re a marketing executive or agency trying to move your company or client into social media, there is a very good chance you have heard this question:

“What’s the ROI?”

In my opinion, the more important and relevant question is, “What is the cost of doing nothing?

That was my message to the John Carroll University Entrepreneurs Association (JCUEA) last week when I presented, “Social Media for CEOs.”

The Approach

After completing an advance survey of the members to determine the presentation’s content and style, we took a three-phased approach to educating and convincing the audience the value of investing time and resources in social media:

  1. What is Social Media?
  2. Why Does it Matter to Your Business?
  3. What Can You Do to Get Started?

What is Social Media?

  • Consumer-generated content. We are all the media, the publishers.
  • People trusting the opinions of their peers and collaborating online to help and support each other.
  • Consumers choosing when and where to interact with brands, and tuning out traditional, outbound marketing.
  • Social media is about listening, learning, building relationships and bringing value to the communities relevant to your organization.
  • Social media is a lifetime commitment to connecting with your audiences (e.g. customers, prospects, peers, partners) in a more authentic and personal way.
  • There are three phases: Monitor, Participate & Publish.

Social Media by The Numbers

  • 15.2 billion core searches conducted in January 2010 (comScore, Inc.)
  • U.S Internet users watched 32.4 billion videos in January 2010 (comScore, Inc.)
  • More than 133,000,000 blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002
  • More than 1 billion “tweets” estimated per month (Royal Pingdom)
  • LinkedIn has more than 60 million members in 200+ countries and territories around the world (
  • More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week on Facebook. And here are a few more stats from
    • More than 60 million status updates daily
    • More than 1.5 million local businesses have active Pages
    • More than 20 million people become fans of Pages each day
    • Average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook
    • More than 100 million active users access Facebook through their mobile devices

Why Does it Matter to Your Business?

Starting with The Facts:

  • Social media should be an essential component of every organization’s integrated marketing strategy.
  • It is irrelevant if you personally use or believe in the value. It’s what matters to your current and future customers, prospects, employees and partners.
  • Social media presents an opportunity for company leaders to build strong personal brands that directly impact the organization’s brand and success.

Social Media Goals & Benefits

  • Generate leads & build loyalty. I argue that these should be the fundamental goals of EVERY marketing dollar and activity. See the Inbound Marketing GamePlan for more on leads and loyalty.
  • Create connections and build relationships.
  • Manage your brand online.
  • Establish professionals as experts, thought leaders and innovators.
  • Grow smarter and faster than your competitors.
  • Strengthen employee recruitment and retention.
  • Reach and engage audiences, specifically younger demographics.

So What’s the ROI?

  • More important question: What is the cost of doing nothing?
  • It is NOT a direct ROI.
  • But it is measurable.
    • Inbound links
    • Website visitors
    • Pageviews
    • Referring sites
    • Keyword rankings
    • Reach (followers, friends, fans)
    • Leads
    • Speaking opportunities
    • Engagement

What Can You Do to Get Started?Get-Started-Button

The key is to remember that a social media strategy on its own is useless. It must be part of an integrated marketing campaign that includes: brand marketing, Website, search marketing, content marketing and PR, as well as traditional strategies, such as sponsorships, and possibly advertising.

We presented an 8-step approach in the Inbound Marketing GamePlan, which outlines how and when to integrate social media:

  • Step 1: Clearly define and differentiate your brand.
  • Step 2: Design and deploy a content-driven Website.
  • Step 3: Go beyond prospects, and consider the impact of your marketing efforts on all audiences.
  • Step 4: Establish measurable and meaningful campaign objectives designed to achieve the primary goals of leads and loyalty.
  • Step 5: Build an integrated campaign: brand, Website, search, social media, content and PR.
  • Step 6: Establish dynamic budgets that can be easily shifted based on campaign performance and analytics.
  • Step 7: Define campaign timelines with milestones, tasks and responsibilities.
  • Step 8: Measure everything, and be willing to adapt and evolve.

THINK Content & Community

Social media boils down to doing three things very well: Monitoring, Participating and Publishing. Here’s the basics of getting started:

  • MONITOR: Conduct social media searches of blogs, forums and social networks relevant to your company and expertise. Subscribe to RSS feeds & Google Alerts.
  • PARTICIPATE: Become a part of the community.
    • Secure and build profiles on key social networks
    • Integrate social media activity into customer service, marketing and HR programs
  • PUBLISH: Create a content marketing strategy and start publishing great multi-media content that’s highly relevant to your audiences.

Things to Consider

  • Personal vs. professional participation
  • HR issues
  • Corporate social media policy
  • Strength of your Website and brand
  • Measurement
  • Integration with your overall marketing strategy
  • Time commitment
  • Internal capabilities and capacity
  • Regulatory issues

Your Thoughts?

What challenges have you run into integrating social media into your company or client? How have you overcome the obstacles, and turned them into opportunities?

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Paul Roetzer is founder and president of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. He can be found on Twitter @PaulRoetzer

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