E3 sprouting ideasver wonder if emerging tools like Twitter and Facebook are just glorified ways to distribute coupons or links to white papers?  If you want
better results from emerging digital tools it’s time to change your expectations, and the way you practice web marketing. 

Here’s how to start improving results, tomorrow, in three easy steps.

Experimenting with digital media for the sake of doing it, and using yesterday’s mass communications yardstick to measure results, makes less sense when you say it out
loud. Yet it’s precisely what many of us are doing. 

Fear of “not doing social marketing” is immense, I admit. But experimenting as a primary means to
apply emerging digital tools consistently yields mediocrity. It’s time
for a new approach. 

It’s time to plan. It’s time to…

1) Expect social media to deliver measurable, qualitative outcomes,
not quantitative novelty.

2) Trust your instincts, question your consultants and ask
yourself, “am I a tool of the tools?”

3) Ask better questions that don’t seek universal standards.

The experimental approach is one that fails many of us. Many of the social marketing success stories we read about are successes in “possible persuasion” i.e. not measured and provable demand creation. We’re falling back on quantitative mass media outcomes and calling them goals. 

Buzz,
conversation, follower or friend count. Are these business goals? More importantly, are we using these technical innovations in ways that are equally innovative?  Are we using these tools to serve our needs or are we a slave to these tools?  Are we just “blasting” email or Tweeting into the ether as we do with broadcast messages? 

Yet emerging digital media tools are producing qualitative business outcomes among mostly tight-lipped, trailblazing organizations. 

Here are three tips to help you become more successful in making digital marketing pay you back.

Expect qualitative, provable outcomes

If there really is “more in it for us” (than handing out
coupons and links) we should treat emerging digital media like ‘social’
with some respect. Expect more of it. Take it out of the hands of the intern or recent
college graduate and into the hands of a capable shepherd.  You, Mr./Ms. CMO or even CEO.

And as Rebecca Lieb suggests, be honest about what
investments in emerging media actually cost you
. Why?  Because your CFO likely isn’t believing your “it’s free” rationalization. 

Expect your digital media team to deliver results and prove them, prove causality. If they cannot prove that X and/or Y campaign caused Z outcome then they cannot claim victory and head out for cocktails. 

You can sometimes see this wasteful practice happening inside companies. Watch for when someone says something like, “well, at least we got some branding out of it” and gets away with it.

Social media is the latest advance in web marketing to be laying claim to all kinds of victories. But this phenomenon extends to email and affiliate marketing too. 

Digital strategies should be expected to produce high quality
leads on new accounts, new-to-file customers or measurable improvements in customer service. They ARE expected to among exceptionally resilient, thriving organizations. 

Sure, expecting this from your team takes some guts, but these are the
meaningful behaviors
that matter to your company, beyond buzzing, positive sentiment,
“friending” or fandom… or
downloading a coupon for that matter. Right?

Our expectations subconsciously drive our actions. We’re human, after all. But this is one reason why many marketers are extracting little if any value from emerging digital marketing tools like Facebook. Our teams are rushing to use them, but without applying marketing tools in context of our needed business
outcomes. 

Bert DuMars of Newell Rubbermaid is seeing a 21% rise in active product recommendations
for two reasons. 

1) Mr. Dumars’ team is committed to organizing around customer behaviour, creating prompts that continually push customers in a direction toward taking actions (not just “feeling positive” about the brand).

He has created behavior-focused infrastructure among his staff that involves listening-analyzing-acting on product review information. The US Air Force has also published similar guidelines;  blogging “rules of engagement” that give everyone a road map and rule book to follow in creating improved outcomes for US Armed Forces recruiters.

2) Newell’s a success because its expectation of social media is qualitative, and higher than average. It expects qualitative outcomes (active product recommendations) not quantitative novelty (ie. friend count on Facebook).

Next up I’ll be back to take a candid look at doing more with emerging tools like Twitter, more than just distributing coupons or links to white
papers. I’ll explore why and how to trust your own instincts more often,
question your consultants and avoid becoming “a tool of the tools.”  Not to mention create more sales and leads. Until then, what do you think?

Photo credit: Will Chen