Gini Dietrich

Answering the Top Five Social Media Questions Marketers Ask

By: Gini Dietrich | May 23, 2013 | 

Answering the Top Five Social Media Questions Marketers AskThe fifth annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner was released earlier this week and the results aren’t overwhelmingly surprising.

More than 3,000 marketers were surveyed and, while the report finds they place very high value on social media, the increase is only three percent from last year. That said, the percentage – 86 percent – is pretty high.

In other words, more than 2,500 marketers place a very high value on social media.

That’s great! But what concerns me is where they want to focus:

  • Tactics and engagement
  • YouTube
  • Blogging
  • Podcasting
  • Measurement
  • Increased exposure

It’s 2013 and we’re still trying to figure out how to use social media to engage, how to increase exposure, and what videos, blogging, and podcasting mean to our individual organizations.

This makes me sad.

In fact, just two years ago, the State of the Inbound Marketing study from Hubspot and MarketingProfs showed companies that blog have significantly higher leads than those that do not.

Leads Generated from Blogging

 And yet, here we are.

Answering the Top Five Social Media Questions Marketers Ask

In the Social Media Examiner report, there were five social media questions marketers want answered that I’d like to address here.

  1. What social tactics are most effective? It depends! Where are your customers and prospects participating online? If you don’t know that, you can run around in circles until you’re dizzy and puking up your guts and you still won’t have the answer. Figure out where the people you want to reach are hanging out online and go there. And if they move, move with them. This is not the Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will not come.
  2. What are the best ways to engage my audience with social media? There are a few ways: Stop talking about only work, don’t be self-promotional, have conversations with people, allow your personalities and your culture to shine through, remember human beings are multi-dimensional, and give up the idea that you can control this. Mistakes will happen. People will say things you don’t like. There will be complaints. It’s in how you handle those things that becomes a win.
  3. How do I measure the return on my social media investment? You already know this one makes me nuts. We have to stop thinking about social media as a tactic on its own. You’re going to measure the return of your marketing investment, of which social media is a part of. If you use social media to motivate people to visit your site  and then the content on your site encourages them to stay there and then your product or service is so overwhelming they buy, your return-on-investment is pretty darn clear. But if you’re looking at social as more Facebook fans and Twitter followers, you’ll lose.
  4. What are the best social management tools? Again, it depends! There is not a one size fits all. The only way to find out is to use the tools. You’ll find what works best for you individually and best for your organization.
  5. How do I create a social strategy? You don’t! You create a marketing strategy, of which social is a part of. As Susan Murphy wrote yesterday, you don’t want to be a social media expert. There is no such thing as a social media strategy. That’s akin to saying you have a telephone strategy or a typewriter strategy.

Social media isn’t about getting really good at Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and LinkedIn. It is about doing the job you’ve always done with the tools that are now available for you.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I have a really good typewriter strategy.

    • belllindsay I think we should discuss it during our next 121.

  • What are the best ways to engage my audience with social media? Value… plain and simple offer your “Likes”, “Followers” and “Subscribers” value beyond liking or commenting on a post. ginidietrich in your case the value is the network here on Spin (space) Sucks, but too many companies try to be like Emmitt Smith and just accumulate number though out there careers without having the flash and real engagement to be valuable as a resource, product or service.

    • briantudor Spin (space) Sucks. LOL!!!

      • ginidietrich do you think we (the royal We) remove the spaces in brand’s names now because of how you type a URL? Hmmm….?

  • The other question I always get is “which social networks are best”? And, of course, “it depends” is always the answer. There are no one-size-fits-all answers for any of this. But sadly, all people want are silver bullets and unicorns.

    • lauraclick Good point Laura and hello :). Do you ever get the “We want to be on every social network out there!”?? I get those quit a bit and of course I have to explain that you don’t really need to be everywhere but rather where your customers, clients…are.

    • lauraclick Just like they want to get rick quick and lose weight fast. Sigh.

      • ginidietrich lauraclick Griddy I always suggest Tagged and Pose.

  • Laura Petrolino

    My favorite line: Where are your customers and prospects participating online? If you don’t know that, you can run around in circles until you’re dizzy and puking up your guts and you still won’t have the answer.

  • Don’t be sad, Gini : (
    I don’t have anything to add to the points you’ve laid out, miss – they’re spot on!
    But I do see the SME report pretty accurate as well, and your statement sums it up;
    “Social media isn’t about getting really good at Facebook and Twitter and
    YouTube and LinkedIn. It is about doing the job you’ve always done with
    the tools that are now available for you.”
    This is where there’s still a disconnect… Doing what you’ve always done in business is building relationships with your vendors, distributors, customers and anyone for that matter that has an interest in your business. Real relationships.

    When you start out on social media, it becomes all about the tools and strategy and I’ve found most folks completely forget that it’s about the people and conversations that lead to a relationship 
    Relationships are not built on tools, strategy, or marketing; it’s more of a human activity, which requires you to be human.
    However, the magic doesn’t happen until the ‘real you’ show’s up… This is what many marketers have yet to tap into.

    You have social running through your blood and many don’t have it running through their veins as of yet…

    • Mark_Harai “Relationships are not built on tools, strategy, or marketing; it’s more of a human activity, which requires you to be human.” 
      That might be the most brilliant thing you’ve ever said!

      • ginidietrich Mark_Harai one issue I find is how many Agencies are ALL IN on Facebook. Likeable. Wildfire (though they are changing). Vitrue. a brand my client works with is working with a company called MultiBrain that push heavy that tool so it hurts ‘marketing’ because so many are force fed through whatever platform tool or channel the agency or person they are listening to says they should. And Mashable is just as big a problem reprinting these businesses press releases and case studies with no proof of anything working. These businesses do interesting things but they over hype the value a brand gets from their services.

  • AHHHH – What’s a ‘typewriter’ and do I need a strategy for it? LOL  
    Great post and stunning that these are still the main questions for marketers.

    • lizreusswig Not only remain so, but seem to be the case for most everyone. It really makes me shake my head. The more time I spend doing this, the more I realize most human beings just have no drive to learn or be curious. Most want to do their jobs, collect their paychecks, and go home to be with their families. There is NOTHING wrong with that, but I don’t understand the lack of drive to be constantly learning.

  • suzemuse

    Thanks for the shout out lady! It seems like everyone is looking for the secret sauce. There is no secret sauce. Social media takes time, effort, experimentation and energy. Can you be focused and strategic about it? Sure! But that in itself does not guarantee success. People need to lose the fear, and start trying more things. 
    As for my telephone strategy – these days it’s to use it as little as possible. Face to face, baby!

    • suzemuse I hate the telephone. I mean, really hate it. I get all weird and choked up and paralytic on it.

      • belllindsay suzemuse It’s true. She does. I just experienced it. We should have done Skype instead.

    • suzemuse I’m with you on the phone, but I really LOVE Skype and Google Hangouts. I mean, love. If you can’t get face to face, that works. 
      Can’t wait to see you next week!

  • I tried repeatedly to tell this to my bosses at my old job to no avail. I finally had to give up. They always thought that if I could get more Twitter followers or Facebook fans all would be well. 
    I tried again and again to say the website was not user friendly and the content sucked. It had so much French in it that the content made no sense. (they wondered why they did not succeed…)

    • NancyD68 Last night I talked to a group of students and I said it’s our jobs to do the things the executives want – such as more Twitter followers and Facebook fans – because it will appease them, but also to demonstrate where the real results lie as we build the programs. Soon they’ll stop being obsessed with the numbers and care more about the leads you’re generating.

  • Bradley H. Smith


  • John_Trader1

    Gini, do you feel that students in academic programs that study social media and communications are getting the proper curriculum and tools to understand the modern dynamics of social media so they can enter the working world armed with skills that address the proper way to use it in the context of an effective an impactful marketing campaign? I’ve always been curious about this.

    • John_Trader1 No. I don’t. I don’t think they’re even being taught how things are changing so quickly. I taught at a University of Chicago master’s class last night and I was interested to see what they’re being taught. The professor has the textbook required, but also has them reading several more up-to-date business books (including Marketing in the Round). But those classes are very few and far between.

      • I feel uniquely positioned to say “no”. There are some innovative professors, but on the whole, it ain’t lookin good. Now if publishers had some better content we could help change this HINT HINT!!! Apparently I am also uniquely positioned to not be able to tag either of you as I’m on mobile.

      • John_Trader1

        ginidietrich RebeccaTodd So what we can do as industry pros do to invoke a change? I feel kind of helpless.

        • Truly I am unsure. Academia moves slowly. They are still teaching elevator pitches in sales class!!! But I do have professors who want valid content-there isn’t much out there. I recommend Marketing in the Round, Content Chemistry, and Think Like a Rock Star, but in order to get courses approved, they need approved resources. Met a great professor from Kent State who wants to pair academics and practitioners to write me some valid content-going to try and make this happen…more not so subtle hints.

        • RebeccaTodd John_Trader1 I also think, in the meantime, we get out there as much as we can and guest lecture. I’m in a great spot in Chicago because there are four universities here where I can influence young minds.

  • susancellura

    Identify needs and opportunities for social media tools and then incorporate those into the overall strategy.

  • I have so many friends, clients, companies even strangers that I want to share this article with lol. I read the report from SME a few days ago and had a couple huh’s here and there. Thanks for pointing out these points Gin. 
    Oh…and I miss you! Oh yeah…and hello :).

    • Griddy I MISS YOU TOO!!!

      • ginidietrich Griddy OMFG Where have you been Griddy!??!!! can I say the F word Gini please. OK FREAKIN AYE! There I said it!

        • Howie Goldfarb Griddy You cannot say the F word!

  • Arment Dietrich, Inc.

    I like that word Bradley!

  • I am tacking #3 to my cubicle wall…and also my refrigerator. I just downloaded this report on Tuesday and haven’t read the entire document, so thank you ginidietrich for this post and your straightforward answers to the questions.

    • Word Ninja The report is spot-on…it’s the answers from those surveyed that make me nuts. There is no such thing as a social media strategy!

      • ginidietrich Word Ninja Yep, SME has been a great resource for me. But I’m pretty sure “no such thing as a social media strategy” is heresy, but at some point, like hundreds of years later, people come to realize the truth in such heretical ideas. Next you’ll be saying the Earth isn’t flat.

        • Word Ninja Wait, what? The earth isn’t flat?!

  • Number 3!! Can’t say that enough.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Thank you! I giggled to myself when I wrote that line!

  • DavidHerrmann

    Love this! Often times I find brands make this too confusing by focusing all their efforts on multiple networks. They get so wrapped up in this that they lose focus and their content suffers. My question that I get a lot from clients is how can we build a good marketing strategy while in the midst of building a new website? What if content like blogging for example isn’t being done, how should one develop content then?

    • DavidHerrmann We love the creating new web pages as content multiple times a week strategy. It works really, really well. Helps with SEO, helps with email marketing, provides new content, and doesn’t require blogging/commenting/community.

      • ginidietrich Can you explain this more? “creating new web pages as content multiple times a week strategy”

        • Word Ninja We create new web pages for the website instead of keeping up a blog. So the site is a living, breathing thing that is updated continuously, instead of being static and updated only every once in a while.

  • ” That’s akin to saying you have a telephone strategy or a typewriter strategy.” Gold, G!

    • RebeccaTodd you need a Telephony strategy and a Mechanical Publishing Strategy Rebecca and I have some in storage I can sell you cheap!

      • My telephony strategy is not to activate my voice mail, then I never have to return calls!

    • RebeccaTodd LOL! I was in a mood this morning!

  • I wonder how many of the 3000 surveyed are marketers who’s prime focus is not social media. Because if your primary focus is social media and that is where you make your money you are not a marketer you are a social media person. Just like if someone asked how is important TV advertising and they make TV commercials they also aren’t marketers They are in TV advertising. 
    They should of just asked CMO’s and CFO’s

    • Howie Goldfarb I think they asked CMOs. The last page of the report has who they surveyed.

  • patmrhoads

    That’s funny, the top social media question I ask  is something like, “Now, which @$%!#$@# password goes with this account?!”
    Just a little (bad) humor for your Thursday. 🙂

    • patmrhoads LOL!!! I might have that very same problem.

  • Dear SM ROI experts… you can’t calculate the return on investment for someone who goes to your store or ends up buying something on your site because they like your social media swag but didn’t directly respond to your link.  Sometimes you have to be more like Rainman than Pythagoras when it comes to measuring intangible results.

  • “If you build it, they will not come.” That sums up nearly all of my clients, who come to me for social media help once they realize that merely having a website won’t make them an overnight success.  In the process of teaching them about social media, we invariably end up developing an online marketing plan, not just a Facebook game plan.  That’s why I call myself an online marketing coach. Because really, a website and email list and social media are all part of a single strategy.

  • ginidietrich I really like your last paragraph. The social media effort should compliment the tone and message in your current or previous marketing efforts. #MarketingInTheRound

    • Matt_Cerms The “we need a social media strategy” always bugs me. No, you need a marketing strategy that implements social.

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