January is the time to reflect on last year and plan for 2011. We know that we all think of ways to better ourselves, and professional development is a big part of this growth. One way to start growing is to invest in a conference. We know there is a big investment in both time and money when attending a conference. People have been asking us for years, how to help sell a conference to their management team. Here are a couple of suggestions:
‘ INSPIRATION: Remind your management that an inspired strategy often comes from being in the midst of other practitioners to brainstorm and think wild and crazy!
‘ PROBLEM SOLVING: In the unofficial networking that happens around an event, is hugely valuable and not something that you can get from online case studies and webinars. We have heard from hundreds of conference attendees that this is one of the most important parts of the event.
‘ KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE: We never know what we don’t know’ however, seeing engaging case studies, techniques for measuring, the latest and greatest platforms and vendors keeps you on the cutting edge and makes sure you are in the know.
‘ KEEP THAT NETWORK FOR LATER: What happens next time you are stuck on how to do something? Now you have a broad network of contacts within the industry to reach out to have the one-on-one conversations about getting un-stuck! It is hugely helpful to have that outsider’s opinion sometimes!
In addition, we have created this little formula and toolkit to help put a value assessment to the things you learn and gain from a conference.
YOUR CONFERENCE ROA (RETURN ON ATTENDANCE) TOOL
Everyone who walks into our conference is given a proprietary formula along with a toolkit. Those not reaching desired ROA prior to the conclusion of the event are instructed to speak with the conference director on-site who will ensure enough contacts; ideas and information value are achieved. Together we will calculate and calibrate success. http://bit.ly/SMC20ROATool
A common theme today revolved around getting management to buy-in to social media initiatives. Promoting what, Dawn Lacallade, Solarwinds, calls community health ‘ participation, feedback ‘ might be a nice measure of success for a community manager, but they aren’t going to convince a CEO to invest. To gain a CEO’s commitment you need to demonstrate business value. You need to think in terms of ROI.
- Improved net promoter score driven by a closer with your customers
- Reduced customer service costs due to the community answering the consumer questions
- Increased sales by better knowing what the consumer wants
The good news is case studies are emerging regarding the positive impact of social media.
- Solarwinds’ R&D budget allocation runs approximately 50% lower than industry average driven by their community involvement in product development
- One of the 35 ideas by Turbo Tax’s Inner Circle members has generated $19MM in revenue over three years
- Scholastic tapped into its community to redesign its flyer resulting in a 3% increase in sales versus its former design
How are you defining the return on your social media investment?
ZD Net recently looked at the return on investment when it comes to social media. They believe that social media will return your investment if you put the proper amount of time into it. They also point out that if you have the proper amount of social media, you can avoid social media disasters. ZD Net cites the most recent social media disaster for United Airlines, United Breaks Guitars.
Do you believe it’s worth investing in social media? As we’ve seen with many companies, United not the first, many PR disasters come about due to social media. Should companies have measures in place to control these events?
Measuring the impact of social media is a common topic throughout corporations that are trying to find out the importance of this trend, and the effects it’s having on their business. A recent blog post by Aaron Uhrmacher at Mashable took a look at how he best believes it can be done. He starts off by pointing out that every organization is going to measure their social media success differently because each company has different objectives for their ventures. He pointed out two ways to measure the media.
First, one can use qualitative measurement. In this step, you have to determine what you want to measure. Is it reputations or conversations or something else? Uhrmacher gave these examples:
- Are we currently part of conversations about our product/industry? - How are we currently talked about versus our competitors?
Then to measure success, we ask whether we were able to: - Build better relationships with our key audiences? - Participate in conversations where we hadn’t previously had a voice? - Move from a running monologue to a meaningful dialogue with customers?
You can also use quantative measurement. This uses tools to help track the traffic to your site and the activity that’s going on when users view your webpage. Sources for this could be: Aide RSS, Google Analytics, and Xinu.
However, the most important part of measuring your ROI from social media is to have in mind from the beginning what you want your media to do. It is vital that you choose what you want to measure so you can determine if you’re reaching those objectives.
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