Gini Dietrich

Why Social Media?

By: Gini Dietrich | December 15, 2010 | 

Paul Sutton is a PR “bloke” in the U.K. I’m a communication pro in the U.S. We never would have met if not for social media. So when he asked me, “Why social media?”, I wanted to say, duh! We wouldn’t have met without it!

This blog post first appeared on his site – The Social Web – so if you read it there a couple of weeks ago, there is nothing new to see. Move along.

When he asked me “why social media,” I really began to think about it … and to take his question seriously. Is it too much to admit I love social media because of its addictive water cooler effect? Or because I’ve been able to meet people around the world (like Paul) I’d never have had the chance to meet? Or because I am FINALLY POPULAR (which I was not in high school)?!?

I’d be lying if I said it was none of those things. But it’s also because social media has been huge for the growth of Arment Dietrich through word-of-mouth and referrals and, honestly, for the credibility and awareness of this blog. It also has helped us define real measurement standards for the work we do with clients.

When we began using social media for business reasons, I was immediately drawn to it because it is so much easier to measure than traditional communication, which is my background.

I like to tell the story of working on the Ocean Spray business. It was a great account to work on – we had a super fun client, I was young and loved traveling the States working with cranberry growers, and the media loved to write about their juices. The last year I worked on the business, we sat in the conference room and showed our results (clip books) to the client. They patiently sat through our dog and pony show and then the chief marketing officer said, “All of these stories are great, but our sales are down.”

You could have heard a pin drop. All that work for nothing?  Sure, you can talk about media impressions and advertising equivalencies and the value of brand equity and awareness, but their sales were down and not only were they cutting our budget, they were letting us go. I can still feel that knot in my stomach and the lump in my throat from that meeting…and it was more than 10 years ago.

Enter social media. With Twitter unique URLs and Facebook specials and mobile text campaigns, PR and marketing no longer are an expense. They are revenue generators. Not that they weren’t before but now we can prove it!

I had a conversation with a client the other day about unique visitors. You see, we have a program with some clients where we are paid based not only on how many unique visitors go to their websites, but how many of them buy. And, because of social media, we know exactly how many of those paying customers came from our efforts vs. direct sales vs. advertising vs. search vs. pay-per-click. And we are rewarded for it.

So now, instead of showing a client five six-inch binders full of stories and media impressions and advertising equivalencies and being shocked that sales are down, we know exactly how their sales are doing and how much of that revenue we are responsible for generating.

Sure social media is about popularity contests and global reach and water cooler talk, but it’s also about driving real business results. Every day.

* Thanks to Conversation Marketing for the image – it made me laugh!

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!

  • This was, yet again, another persuasive and brilliantly taken Social Media article of yours.
    I believe I can freely copy the behavior and the attitude of yours since I saw no copyright attached to it.. See, where? None? 🙂 cool.

    We, the web designers have a motto, or a bliss, or .. uhh.. may be some of us have this curse to be honest 🙂

    >> “GOOD CONTENT – WELL PRESENTED” is the key for any successful web design.

    No reason wht the principle does not apply here..

    Hereby, I have humbly suggested that yours was an exemplary presentation of a very good content, such as Social Media, a means through which greatly enhances the marketing opportunities of enterprises (not even, but especially) during recession – of course, at the hands of capable people (no doubt you are one).

    For tihs reason, your content, social media was already great enough; moreover it was self-selling, doesn’t stay on shelf unintended and unsold, moreover, it was more than satisfying even when executed not quite properly, but it was not “self-promoted” – and because of that, therefore, it would take a great deal of charm energy and good words to put together so may haps we could have the corporate people before us who would have their utmost faith on (delegating the works of) social media integration.

    (Recalling your response that you gave at a NYC conference about the companies preferring interns for “this kinda jobs” – one of the three video files I happen to watch yesterday).

    .. .. ..

    Do I make any sense here? Frankly, actually my name is Kunter, :p I don’t care of this as much as I do for already having dropped a sentence or two here; okay may be more… which was also one of your prime suggestion about.. err.. Getting involved? Connected?

    “You read something and go down to the bottom, the comments section and say something”

    Only to show that I am here, and perhaps, to be encouraging? Or sharing the enthusiasm – so I could bring more diversity as though there is already few for you out there?

    Well 🙂 All of the above.

    Have a shining day..
    if Sun doesn’t do that these days, may the ice-blocks that are falling from sky do that for you.. just pay attention not greeting them with your head.

    best regards;
    some comment I have written today..

  • EricPudalov

    Gini – you must have read my mind this morning, because I was literally thinking, “Why social media?” even before I read your post.

    And you’re right…it IS so much easier to see measurable results from social media than from traditional communication.

    Which brings me to my next question…although we have a smaller organization than yours, as a whole, I’d still like to know – how can I best get more people reading our blog, and directing them to our website?

    Though I realize I wrote a blog entry here on this very topic, I’ve still noticed that certain entries on WordPress receive quite a few more views than others. When looking at the stats today, I noticed that StumbleUpon was one of our biggest referrers, which was a surprise!

    But a woman also commented on our Facebook Page recently that she was unaware of a major event we’d had, and didn’t know about it until after I posted pictures of it. Is there something I’m missing here?

  • patrickreyes

    Gini, your reasons for loving social media are the same as mine! From a business side of things, social can help any industry…whether it be automotive or even a church. Either way, results are measurable and can be tied to the bottom line. I often get impatient (as you very well know) when companies stick to traditional advertising, sales methods or communication that are not measurable with the hope that the result will be different.

    It becomes imperative then for all of us to be patient and educate with proof points as to the benefit the social web, and technology for that matter, has on business.

    Great post and have a great day!

  • FollowtheLawyer

    Sounds like you were working on Ocean Spray around the same time that I was working on Northland. 100 percent nostalgia (not from concentrate).

  • @EricPudalov I agree..

    Social media metrics, measurable, thus optimizable, at least cost-wise regarding to your customer’s marketing investment. Besides, you can also engage with analytics and return assessment while you would stand no chance of that against a standing-still billboard.. Unless you plan hiring PR people to co-stand with those BB’s and expect them to gather and return those by-passer ideas..

    But these are now possible with social media..
    We have the bypasser motivation.. forget their one specific reaction.

    Concepts like SEO,ROI, PR, CMS, let us name it.. ABC of marketing, is now related to, or connected to Social Media one way or another.

    kind regards

  • HowieSPM

    Because of my Shelly Kramer and Gini Dietrich Google Alerts I saw this post and commented there. Instead of being redundant. I am just here for potential Livefyre Points.

    As that catchy can’t get out of your head Livefyre’s Jingle Goes……”You Have To Comment…To Earn Livefyre Points” and ‘Livefyre Points…Don’t Leave Home Without Them’. which are ‘Lifestyle Points for the Modern Day Social Media Influencer”

  • To me, it’s all about the basics. Stick with the simple measurements and find out how they relate to the bottom line and report one number.

    Social Media, itself, is really all about the basics. Think of it in the long march of history as not something new but taking “media” away from big centralized outlets and putting it back where it was since the dawn of civilization.

    It’s not so much a revolution as a big “Duh!”. The more we can all approach it that way the better off we’ll all be, IMHO.

  • Chris_3seven9

    Hi Gini,
    Really positive to hear of success stories achieved through social media! More often than not we hear of the impossibilities of measuring tangible ROI from Social Media so it’s really good to hear how it CAN be measured (to a certain extent) simply and effectively.

    The commenter below (wabbitoid) hits the nail on the head – ‘it’s all about the basics’ and you allude to this when you discuss comparing it against direct sales, advertising, search and pay-per-click presumably through fundamental click-through analysis.

    Some elements are beyond measurement control, but you present a simple way of showing the effectiveness of Social Media.

    Good post!

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  • ginidietrich

    @Chris_3seven9 It’s funny – martinwaxman thornley and I talk about this on next week’s inside_pr . PR pros still haven’t figured out how to measure exactly what we do. I don’t know if you have to be a business owner to “get” it, but it’s really a darn shame more don’t.

  • ginidietrich

    @wabbitoid Amen!

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM Does livefyre know you’ve created a jingle for them?

  • ginidietrich

    @FollowtheLawyer OMG! You were the enemy!

  • ginidietrich

    @patrickreyes Copy cat.

  • ginidietrich

    @EricPudalov A few things: 1) Are you using SEO Scribe? 2) Are you posting in places like StumbleUpon? 3) Are you using Twitter to increase your visibility? 4) How are you using Networked Blogs on Facebook?

  • ginidietrich

    @kunter I am so happy to have you here! You are quickly becoming one of my favorite people!!

  • 3HatsComm

    Gini, I remember your Ocean Spray story well, still think there was a disconnect somewhere in the plan to turn that PR and awareness into sales.

    Anyway, love the simplicitity of this. Why social media? Because it works. I’ve read a number of posts how in some ways, being so wired and connected actually makes us less social and yet, those are the facts. Online, and social networks, are where customers are spending their precious time so as a marketer, you need to be where the customers are. Via social media, you can go even further by being where they are, what they’re searching for, the stuff they want to share with others. FWIW.

  • Very good stuff, @ginidietrich . You couldn’t be more correct about social media and your story made me think about my PR education in college…it had zero about social media, and I think that’s a huge disservice to PR students who aren’t exposed to social media during their education. I think I’m going to send my favorite professor a link to your blog and let her do something thinking about her curriculum going forward 😉

  • @ginidietrich @HowieSPM Please please please record this song!

  • V. interesting Gini. I liked the way you explained the model of how you generate income based on purchases. Haven’t seen much of that over here. Is that a common model in the US?

    It’s often very hard to explain the value of social media to prospects; this is a great way of getting your foot in the door.

  • ginidietrich

    @jonbuscall No one is doing it here. We started testing it with a long-term client this year and it worked for both of us so well that we rolled it out to a few other clients. It doesn’t work for everyone. You have to have a client who will give you time to really absorb yourselves into their business and is willing to share all of their business reports and analytics with you.

  • ginidietrich

    @JMattHicks I think not learning about social media in your PR classes isn’t the only disservice. I also think not understanding basic business growth, marketing, and numbers also is a huge disservice. We all talk about wanting to be taken seriously, yet we are only taught how to write and how to pitch media.

  • ginidietrich

    @3HatsComm Oh yeah – I totally agree about my Ocean Spray example. And there likely were some goals in the plan at the senior levels. I was all of 25 when this happened so I was just a tactical implementer. And I know how much it hurt when I did such a great job, was rewarded for it through promotions and raises, and then to hear the client say it did nothing for them. That’s when I began to think there had to be a better way. And here we are…10 years later.

  • @ginidietrich Exactly. I also think a lot of it (of not learning it college) has to do with being in the south, and in a very small town/community in the south, so social media isn’t quite as “main stream” in marketing as it is in towns like SF, Chicago, LA, NY, etc. But that doesn’t change the fact that social media is a HUGE part of what you mentioned above and it HAS to be understood and effectively utilized one you’re our of college in the real world.

  • FollowtheLawyer

    @ginidietrich I prefer to remember us as a scrappy band of health-conscious underdogs battling “Big Beverage.”