If your company doesn’t realize that there is something significant happening in the world of social media then it is probably part of a very unique minority. Presently, most businesses know that social media is beneficial but they still don’t know how to leverage it. That is unsurprising because, for better or for worse, if you were to super-impose the time-line of the internet marketing industry over the time-line of a well established industry like the auto industry, it would be safe to say that we’re still manufacturing the Model T. Does that mean the internet marketing industry is putting out a poor product? Not at all. It just means there are so many possibilities for the internet, most of them inconceivable at this moment, that we’ll see strategies and products continue to evolve and adapt for a long time.

So, given that the industry is still a relatively new one, it is to be expected that social media is misunderstood. Still, my above statement was that businesses that haven’t even heard the phrase are among a minority. That leaves the rest of us in two broad categories: those among us who are attempting to leverage social media and those who are not. I’m more interested in the former, dismissing the latter as dinosaurs who will get left behind at the next major shift in how the internet is used. That being said there are a great deal of internet marketers who are recklessly throwing clients into social media. They cook up vague strategies and invent their own metrics by which to judge their success. Among the most ridiculous are marketers who are putting together formulas to measure their campaigns, either using some of the most useless metrics for success, such as Facebook’s reach metric, or building the formula to result in some brand new metric like cost per share. What is cost per share and why is it important?

Of course innovation will spearhead a more effective utilization of social media, but knowing when you’re exercising nothing but futility by trying to optimize and measure metrics that don’t matter is important too. Many internet marketing professionals are still missing the foundation of the issue: goals. You don’t “do social media,” you use social media as another channel by which you can optimize for conversions, build a brand, engage customers, etc. You set your goals and you base your marketing in those objectives. Admittedly it is applying old concepts to something that is very new, but old isn’t necessarily deprecated. Bottom-lines and leads are still important to businesses so why shouldn’t we continue to measure metrics that track how marketing dollars are accomplishing tasks like these?

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