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The numbers, the numbers, it’s all about the numbers. What’s our tweet reach, are we hitting ROI goals, what’s the virality of that post, how is our klout score holding up. Damn it Scotty we need more engagement, Aye Captain I’m givin er all I’ve got….Okay lost my head, got carried away, but isn’t it the same with these monthly reports that are being created, showing all kinds of graphs, charts and numbers piled high, justifying our place at the conference room table?
I must say there certainly has been a lot of talk lately from people in the social world regarding the importance of this number and that number. Is it relevant, are higher numbers better, smaller more engaged numbers the way to go…. It is an unanswerable question, more about opinion than solid answers in my mind. Each one of us is going to have our own opinion on the matter. Even more so, each one of us is going to have different experiences regarding those numbers and how we approach and utilize them.
A Few Observations
I have been in this social media game long enough to see it for what it is. An extremely powerful tool when applied correctly. There is an enormous amount of “buzz” surrounding our profession. When I am involved with a bunch of “us” talking, debating, and discussing the finer points of numbers in relation to the social space, using all the industry slang for all it’s worth, it reminds me of being in a social situation with a bunch of stock brokers discussing the latest in the investment strategies or mechanics talking about the latest hemi addition, torque specs etc. Don’t get me wrong I love the debate. I love sharing and hearing what others opinions are. BUT do you really think our clients have any idea or care for that matter about any of our chatter? On a basic level yes they want to know, see and hear, but ultimately… let’s be honest, the numbers are for “us”. When I go to the mechanic shop, I want my car serviced for a reasonable price. I want it repaired, or at least maintained so that I can have the confidence that the vehicle will continue to operate and be reliable. Yeah, show me the parts list, and the labor costs, but don’t try explain how each part operates within the big picture of how the engine works. The vehicle starts and stops when it is supposed to, will get me from point A to point B safely. In essence that mechanic did what was expected at a reasonable price point.
Would you think to ask your stock broker to go into detail about the strategies employed to achieve the return on your money. What do you think you are going to get? Most probably a report with charts, numbers, and market speak that as we have seen can all be manipulated to say whatever is desired.
Therein is the Point
Let’s be honest, the numbers can be massaged, manipulated and down right cooked to look and say exactly what we want them to. It is such a smoke and mirrors process. I was criticized this year for not supplying my clients with a written report including all kinds of the above mentioned graphs, pie charts etc. I thought about that advice, in the end I dismissed it. Why? Because I saw how easily it was to make reports and numbers tell a story that is exactly that, a story. Just take a look at the “buying followers practice in place by many”. I choose instead to continue doing what was working for me, meeting with my clients on a regular basis, and asking the tough questions in real time. I have found that it makes for a team effort. I like to ask whether a campaign or strategy is working for “us”, if it is not giving “us” the desired results then “we” need to tweak, or restructure to meet the desired results. Honestly, when a strategy is not working my client loses, but more importantly I am losing. I take it very personally.
In the End
I can show my clients numbers and all kinds of social bling, but what they really want is exactly what I want… increased bottom line, engagement, increased sales, goals being met, etc. Success comes in sometimes unrecognizable forms. I have a client that was spending quite a bit of time handling phone appointments. Any calls for appointments during off hours had to be dealt with in a cumbersome manner. During one of our meetings this came out, so we embarked on an education campaign pushing the fact that appointments could be made from the FB page. Outcome: major decrease in phone appointments, shift to using FB for appointments, time spent paying someone to deal with those appointments cut dramatically. Bottom line… money being spent more efficiently. A win from where I sit behind the monitors.
Don’t Kill the Messenger
Now before I get bombarded with comments telling me how wonderful your reports are, and how I need to do it this way or that. Please keep in mind, this is my opinion, this is what works for me, and why. If your clients are thrilled with reports and numbers, pie charts etc, and it is working… keep doing it. With all the guru’s and experts, bot social package companies offering that “buy my product” , “social media magic beans” and “elixirs” out there in the social space, it is important we don’t get caught in falsely justifying our efforts. We all know that expectation that hangs in the room at our initial meetings with clients, the expectation that we will wave our magic tablets and they will become the kings and queens of their social media niche. I believe the more honest we are with our clients not only as individuals, but as professionals, the more “our” profession will be looked upon with respect and legitimacy. Again, just my opinion. That being said, I want to know…
What works for you, my colleagues, the folks that are in the trenches making it happen for even the smallest niche clients? Share, won’t you.