Category Archives: ROI

8 ways to spot the social media snake oil salesmen



Everyone is a social media expert right?  I mean social media is so pervasive that everyone must know about it?


There are lots of companies just starting in social media and wanting to take their first steps – their first correct steps online.  They need help to get it right.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who claim to be experts in social media.

They are advising companies on social media implementation without implementing a strategy or a plan.  They don’t have any ROI examples and they don’t have the depth or the breadth of experience to be able to offer balanced advice across the channels.

They don’t even have a plan implemented for their own company…

If you’re looking to hire a social media consultant to help you with your community implementation or social business strategy, there are some things that you can watch for when you’re looking around for a good consultant.

Be wary of anyone that is keen to push you towards one solution such as Facebook for your business.  Facebook is not right for every business, nor is Twitter. Make sure you talk through ALL of the possible choices with someone who knows the features and benefits of each

Watch out for over promotion.  Snake oilers are keen to promote their services over everyone else’s.  Watch what they write about.  If their blog is full of self promotion and self congratulatory posts, avoid them.  If their Twitter feed exhorts you to retweet them all the time, or like their Facebook pages, they are just trying to make themselves look good to other customers.

Look for longevity.  How long have they been working with social media?  Have they got years of experience across different platforms or are they new to the game – and only one step ahead of you? For example, Twitter has been around since 2006 and got popular at SxSW (South by SouthWest conference) in early 2007.  Enthusiasts and early adopters of the technology should have been on Twitter for at least a couple of years.  If you want to find out how long someone has been on Twitter use a tool such as When did you join Twitter to check them out

Personal disclosure.  Social media experts know how much personal and business information to share in their updates.  Whilst talking about business constantly can put people off, so can sharing too much information.  It might be ok for friends to hear their deepest secrets, but it doesn’t look good to businesses looking to hire consultants

Twitter follower / following count.  Lots of Twitter accounts automatically follow back, so some snake oilers follow these accounts to increase their follower count.  Be wary of people who follow thousands of users in the hope of getting a follow back.  The overhead of tracking thousands of followers means that quality engagement can not happen.   I know that tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite can sort followers into lists, but the rest of accounts followed will be ignored

Tools and channels.  Blogs, wikis and forums are equally valid social channels for social engagement.  Your business might thrive with forum based implementation.  Make sure your social media specialist can talk through all of the different forum, wiki and blog options including in-house implementations and proprietary solutions.  Remember, it’s not just about WordPress and Joomla…

Engagement models.  Your snake oiler should be able to discuss engagement best practices, frameworks and crisis plans.  They should also be able to give practical examples of companies in similar to your industry.

Are they ‘walking the walk’?  Is their blog up to date with practical, considered credible posts?  Do they engage with their customers?  Are they practicing what they preach?  Do they understand legal, IP and data protection issues, and more importantly – how to solve them?

Remember – you are the customer.  you don’t have to hire someone when you’re not sure about their experience or credentials.  Ask them why they are proposing this type of solution for you.  Ask for examples, ask for ROI proof.  Check them out, ask others about their credibility.

Look for history.  Look for evidence. Suss out the snake oil salesmen and become more savvy with your social business hiring.

You can then relax and know that you’re in good, safe, social hands…


Image credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


B2B social media bolsters interactions – If you measure your ROSMI

Business to business social media is often overlooked in the mad scramble to get social media views, likes and votes in the business to consumer world.  But B2B is a really important way for companies to connect – if they also measure their Return on Social Media Investment (ROSMI)

Accenture have published a report highlighting attitudes to social media – and as I said yesterday when I talked about why the CEO needs to step up,  1 in 6 executives don’t perceive social media as being important enough. 

There’s a low level of engagement too.  Have a look at this graph from the Accenture report.


Source: Making Social Media Pay: Rethinking Social Medias potential…

Although respondents to the survey acknowledged that social media was important, engagement was generally low. Figure 3 shows that more than 25% engage slightly or not at all.  Only 8 per cent of companies are heavily taking advantage of social media at the moment which gives early adopters of social media a competitive advantage.

Accenture’s research focused on social media attitudes and looked at two different groups: Those that reported significant revenue growth and those that reported declines in revenue.  Whilst engagement levels were similar, strategies were different:

Companies that experienced revenue growth

  • Social media programs for greater customer engagement, improved brand reputation, access to new revenues, access to new sources of innovation
  • 27 per cent of companies convinced of social medias impact on customer engagement
  • 39 per cent of companies ranked social media as very important
  • 39 per cent integrated social media with other customer initiatives
  • 15 per cent systematically measured return on social media investment

Companies with declining revenue:

  • Social media programs for enhancing customer engagement
  • 9 per cent of companies convinced of social medias impact on customer engagement
  • 24 per cent of companies ranked social media as very important
  • 20 per cent integrated social media with other customer initiatives
  • 0 per cent systematically measured return on social media investment

There are several case studies mentioned in the Accenture report including examples from Cisco, Dell, Oracle and Microsoft, some great advice about aligning your social media activities with your broader business objectives.  Social media needs to be positioned as the cornerstone of activity in order for companies to succeed effectively in their industry

Getting your interaction right can make the difference between growing the business.  Measuring your return on your social media investment is the key to your success – or not.

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Can marketing for the social business deliver ROI?

Can social media actually deliver ROI?  It’s one of the first things that a CEO thinks about when the budget proposal to implement social media channels lands on his desk.

It’s hard to succeed financially at the moment.  No matter how large or small your business is, you’ve noticed the downturn in sales.  Its hard to buck the downward trend and increase your margins without slashing costs and reducing the workforce.  Budgets for non essential line items are reduced as companies try to stay afloat.  Marketers are focused on improving

Companies want to increase traffic to their website.  They want to achieve this through social media integration.   segmentation and targeting and integrating their existing activities into social channels to leverage social data.  These are top objectives for marketers according to the Marketing Sherpa social marketing benchmark survey report for 2011

 View Chart Online

CMO’s plan to increase their use of social media over the next 3-5 years increasing their technology investment, customer analytics and CRM.  Using social media as a key engagement channel and using the data gathered to improve customer intelligence is a good strategic point which will enhance brand advocacy

Technology that CMOs Worldwide Plan to Increase Use of in the Next 3-5 Years, June 2011 (% of respondents).


The challenge is finding suitably knowledgeable staff to be able to implement social media communications channels, mine data and interpret the results effectively.  It’s important to realise the ROI from your social media activities and making sure you have an effective way to measure your results.

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

It’s about the discount–not the relationship



I found an interesting post on Nasdaq today talking about the differences in what companies think that their customers want, compared with what their customers actually want from them.  IBM carried out a study and talked to more than 1000 consumers – asking them how they used social media.  Company executives were also asked their opinion about why they though consumers interacted.  There are some interesting callouts from the study which seem to contradict the way that we think we use social media:


  • Consumers use social networks to stay in touch with family or friends
  • Consumers use social media sites to find discounts and for purchases
  • Companies feel that they are under pressure to engage with their customers
  • Companies believe that consumers hope to feel part of the community by this type of engagement


This is all very well in the B2C space, where, as consumers we’re searching for the best deals around.  This is how Groupon has become so successful. 

Groupon offers discounts (and earns its revenue by taking a fee of 50% of the Groupon offer price plus VAT).  Groupon has a way of retaining their customers.  Have a look at what happens when you try to unsubscribe! 

Loyalty, offers, discount and deals matter in the B2C space.  But what what about B2B?

With B2B relationships are important.  With B2B, companies rely on their partner network to sell their services, products and licenses.  I think B2B connections are all about relationships.

Sure, companies can offer their partners suppliers discounts and offers – but I don’t think that’s the only reason that partners connect.  Business partners need information, news, and roadmap knowledge so that they can tailor their own businesses to align with the direction of the company.  If they don’t have this early information, then a partner could invest in creating a solution offering which could be aligned with a product that is about to be sidelined or sunsetted.  An investment error like this could be a significant issue for a small business – much more than a potential partner service, discount or free offer.

Customer connections matter.  Relationships matter.

If you’re only aiming for a light touch or one time engagement with your customer, then a special offer will work wonders.  It will initially get people through your door.  It’s the relationship that you have with the customer after that first contact that might keep them coming back.

And that’s all about how you make the customer feel.  Part of a community that receives discounts might be the relationship that keeps them coming back to you.  Ask Groupon…

Image credit: Flickr

Facebook engagement and ROI

Don’t expect too much response from your army of fans on Facebook.  Don’t spend all of your marketing cash on getting folks to like the Facebook page.  It might be a waste of your time.  Wired pointed to this graph from Fangager which shows low level of engagement from fans – 2.6% of fans actually engage on the page in the case of Manchester United… Not many at all.

And this is the most social channel – where it’s really easy to engage with the brand.  Much easier than in the old days of outbound comms where click throughs and link activation showed a poor return on investment for the marketing campaign…


As has always been the case with blogging and metrics gathering, its not always about the numbers.  Its about the quality not the quantity.  Numbers don’t actually matter that much.  What if Bill Gates read your blog?  What if the Mashable team read your Tweets?  What if your biggest clients interacted with you on Facebook. 

So often, I work with people that are obsessed with hard metrics.  Its all about the numbers, its all about exposure, reach and eyeballs on the page.  Its a real challenge to get them to think about soft metrics.  Quality not quantity. Engagement, interaction, connections

If those eyeballs don’t convert into some kind of sales or decent return on your investment – why are you spending so much time trying to get more and more new people to become fans?  You’ll have a higher overhead, managing the facebook page, more time will be spent and more effort in managing and moderating those new fans.

Perhaps sometimes its better to nurture the fans you have and turn these connections into real sales opportunities. 

Or don’t expect much interaction from your efforts to engage…


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