Why Social Media? Insight From PR News Event

I spent a couple days last week in New York, attending the PR News PR Digital Awards and speaking on a panel at the Social Media Measurement Conference.

As many of you know, social media success can be difficult to measure. Does the person or brand with the most “likes” win? How about he or she who has the most retweets? Page views? Something else?

If you know me, you know I don’t place the so-called Big Number above all else. That’s to say, I don’t believe having the most of anything makes you superior in social media. Some people don’t agree with me, and that’s fine.

Reach vs. Engagement

Social media presents a viable two-way communication platform. It offers a big opportunity to connect with consumers and/or potential customers. Photo by PR News.

Social media presents a viable two-way communication platform. It offers a big opportunity to connect with consumers and/or potential customers. Photo by PR News.

Don’t get me wrong: Part of the value of social media is the ability to reach eyeballs you wouldn’t otherwise reach, and that’s due in part to amassing likes, followers, etc.

At USANA, we’d love to have every single customer like us on Facebook, if for nothing else than to give us one more avenue in which to connect with those valued individuals.

But I don’t think like/follower count is the most important thing. Would you rather 1 million people see your message and do nothing with it, or would you prefer your message reach 10,000 people and have 1,000 take action?

That action could translate into sales, right? Sure, it could. And boy would it be nice to be able to attribute sales directly to efforts on social media. But there could be something more to it.

Throughout my career, first as a journalist and now as a social media manager, I’ve never been able to say: “I wrote this story/blog post that translated into $X in revenue for the newspaper/company.”

But I have been able to say what I did made a difference, whether it told a meaningful story, built brand loyalty, added an element of personalization or indirectly convinced someone to buy. That’s why I was glad to see this tweet:

“Engagement” is a buzz word in social media today, and I believe rightfully so. Even more, I was happy to hear several conference speakers tout the “R” word — relationship — above the “Q” word — quantity — during their presentations.

At USANA, our philosophy is and will continue to be writing blog posts, sharing Facebook status updates and sending tweets that help us develop more meaningful relationships with our readers, fans and followers.

Now that doesn’t mean we don’t provide our executives with numbers demonstrating our growth. We do that. And we also keep track of individual stories of social media success that help humanize what we do each day. We value the USANA community immensely. After all, it’s now you — not brands — who wield the greatest power. As it should be.

As Mark Schaefer, author of Return on Influence, said in his keynote, “Influence has been democratized.”

Additional Insight

Here are 5 additional points that caught my attention during the conference:

  • Structure your PR and social media not around content or messages, but around relationships. — Jeff Jarvis, author of Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live
  • One-third of companies surveyed have no one in charge of social media. In times of crisis, people do not want to hear from a logo. — Dallas Lawrence, Chief Global Digital Strategist, Burson-Marsteller
  • You don’t just want a like or a follower; you want an advocate. — Katie Paine, chairman, KDPaine & Partners
  • Focus on the outcomes. Outcomes are measures that matter. — Frank Strong, Director of Public Relations, Vocus
  • Insights is largely a human endeavor. Tools are great but you need the right people analyzing the data. — Don Bartholomew, Senior Vice President, Digital and Social Media Research, Ketchum

How About You?

What do you think? How do you gauge the success of your own social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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2 replies
  1. Ekayani Chamberlin
    Ekayani Chamberlin says:

    These are excellent points. It really does add depth by just being human and sharing that humanity in all it’s diversity via social media outlets. The quality of posts and information shared creates a platform for meaningful conversation and in todays world it means quite a lot. Recently someone gave me a testimonial that what I offered went far beyond ” a cold hearted sales pitch”. That I thought was huge and is of course a reflection of the training I get with Usana. They went on to say that I “offered more” than anyone could hope to absorb! LOL The feeling I took away was generosity. That’s important. Real knowledge. May I also say that I appreciate the fact that you do your job so well. It has added much flair and pizzazz to Usana Health Sciences. If someone would have told me a supplement company could make science “sexy” as we say here in the Big Apple, I never would have believed it.

    • Tim Haran
      Tim Haran says:

      Hi Ekayani,
      Thank you for the comment. I can tell from our social media conversations that you are passionate about what you do, and that obviously resonates with the people you meet. Nice work!

      (and thank you for the kind words about our social media. We have a lot of fun doing it, so I’m glad that comes through).

      Have a great day!


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