The Value of Being Merely Present in Social media

How does the old adage go? “Showing up is half the battle?” Something similar can be said for social media. Big things can happen by being merely present.

Bookshelves and hard drives brim with all kinds of information about social media ROI, and for a good reason. Any foray into social media (like any implement in the marketing toolkit), requires having a goal.  Without it, how will you know if you succeeded?

Now, by “merely present”, I don’t mean setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter account and randomly posting self-promotional or irrelevant dribble. But neither do I mean an organizational upheaval to align a company as the prototypical “social business”.

What fascinates me are the companies, both large and small, that have done a little in social media and realized huge returns. Not through exhaustively, well-planned strategy and benchmarking, but with simple goals and objectives.

From personal experience, one of our clients wanted to double the amount of visits to his page within a colossus corporate website. Simply by sharing existing subject matter content to two dedicated LinkedIn groups produced an eight-fold increase in visitors… and by the end of the year, $3 million in new revenue.

Now, that’s all great, right?

To be honest, the client was using newsletter advertising and exploiting an email database to alert others to the available content. But here’s the thing. How much of this little social outreach program contributed directly to that result?

We don’t know.

The client doesn’t know.

What the client is sure of is that what we recommended and helped him execute had a hand in delivering dollars. For our part, we thought the issue through, used a little research that told us where to direct the content firepower, and applied what budget was available to hopefully make a difference.

Another example is our new friend, Kyle Thill, of Toyota-Lift of Minnesota. He took to social media simply because Toyota reduced his advertising budget and encouraged use of social media because it was “low cost”.

Kyle decided to pull from what he knew and what he thought his customers would benefit from: simple sharing of information that could help people who are in the market for forklift sales and service.

In keeping with that idea of low cost, Kyle stated that Toyota-Lift “can’t afford too many calories to be spent on analytics… If what we are doing makes sense, we’ll simply ‘do it’.”

It must be working. That simple sharing benefited Toyota-Lift with a 10 percent increase in sales last year and this. Again, there was no grand strategy, but just being present. And in Kyle’s case, a lot.

Looking at examples like these two, there is no direct, attributable line of cause and effect. However, effort and activity leads to some sort of impact, as some of these examples of social marketing successes did.

As our examples demonstrate, it appears the results were an essential mix of understanding where your audience is; an awareness of how they use and consume information on the Internet; and having some kind of benchmark and rudimentary metrics.

Honestly, we prefer strategic planning to flying by the seat of your pants any day.  But when resources are scarce, a smaller, but still smart, presence can potentially be worth far more than none at all.

What’s your take?  What social programs have you seen that produced outsized results?