Defining Social Media Success
How do we define success in a blogger relations campaign or blog initiative? WHO defines success?
In yesterday's post on Blogola, I mentioned a post by Mack Collier that criticized both the recent Nikon outreach to PR and marketing bloggers and CBS TV's outreach last spring to a group of parent bloggers. In both cases, Mack's criticism wasn't of the blog outreach itself, which I should have made clearer in my previous post. Rather, he chastised both groups for not going far enough, for reaching out without soliciting feedback from the bloggers. As he stated in the comments to my Blogola post:
My problem is in the execution, because I think both initiatives have/had a golden opportunity to collect valuable feedback from bloggers, and aren't taking advantage of it. Apparently all CBS did was smooze some mommy bloggers on the set, and throw freebies at them and hope they go home with stars in their eyes and gush about how great the show is. That's fine, but why not ALSO actually TALK to these bloggers and ask them how CBS can utilize social media effectively? Is throwing freebies at bloggers a feasible social-media plan for the long-term?
I respect Mack, and quite often agree with him. This isn't one of those times.
We have to get over the idea that we are "doing social media" and that there is a prescribed, preferred way of "doing it" that defines the effort as successful. We are doing marketing campaigns or PR outreach or customer evangelism using social media tools. We are reaching out to customers who blog. Hopefully, we have a marketing plan that uses all the appropriate tools and tactics, new and old, not a social media plan that focuses on social media tools even if they aren't the most appropriate or effective for a given objective.
Now, I know that wasn't what Mack was suggesting in his comments or his post. He saw it as lost opportunity to get customer feedback, and he is by no means the only person to express this viewpoint. To some extent he is right. Both campaigns could be viewed as opportunities to gather customer feedback and it seems they have not done so. However, just because they could have asked for feedback does not mean they should have. At least in these specific efforts.
The measure of success of a program, whether social or traditional media, is whether it achieves its objectives, not whether it meets an observer's expectations.
Successful marketing programs have focus -- a clear, primary objective. The best ads make one point, not many. Why? Because it is generally more effective to do one thing well, really well. Trying to do too much, be all things to all people is a recipe for disaster. A jumbled Web site with no clear path or call to action. A direct marketing piece that never gets to the point because it is trying to make all of them.
In the case of the Nikon Picture This campaign and the New Adventures of Old Christine set visit, the primary objective was to spread the word. In my opinion, both succeeded.
Should the companies consider further outreach to solicit feedback and opinion from bloggers? Absolutely. But every project doesn't have do everything.
I wasn't personally involved in either effort, but I know Liz Gumbinner, one of the parent bloggers invited on the CBS set visit. I thought it would be interesting to get her perspective on Mack's post and the WSJ article that inspired it.
To start with, she thought the WSJ article was misleading, in both tone and fact. For example, something she wrote on Mom-101 was attributed to Yvonne from joyunexpected.com. As to whether CBS solicited feedback from the invited bloggers, she says:
Just because something isn’t mentioned in an article doesn’t mean it didn’t happen....While there was no opportunity on the set to sit down and critique the show (which..well, duh. When do you get tickets to Letterman and then have a chance to pick apart the opening monologue with him afterwards?) there was ample opportunity to discuss the show with the PR and show contacts afterwards or by email.
She also reiterated that CBS never asked anyone to write about the show or the set visit, only requested that if they did, they include the new date/time of the show in their post. Now if you've ever read Liz's blog, you know that Mom-101 doesn't gush. Nor did she in her post about the set visit.
To Mack's point that CBS should have done more, obtained more feedback from the bloggers, she was fine with the fact that CBS was using the bloggers as a PR channel, not a focus group.
As a marketer I know that sometimes opinion leaders are used to guide the product development process, and sometimes they’re used to get the word out when the product is completed. In this case, we were a tool for the latter. I’ve got no beef with that. I think they handled the entire experience very well in fact. It was well coordinated and organized and we all had a really fun day. It certainly beats the “do you want a free sample of my new pudding packs” solicitations we normally get as “mom bloggers.”
Also, for the record, they didn’t “fly us in.” Good lord. We were all in the LA area and the couple who weren’t came in on their own dimes because they wanted to be there. The dvds they “threw us” were just cheaply laid off copies of a few show episodes so we could familiarize ourselves with the show before the visit – certainly nothing we could resell on the black market. And did we “happily post about how we loved the experience?” Yep.
Because we did.
It was fun.
CBS had a goal -- to spread the word about the show and the new day/time to the audience. One of the ways it decided to do this was by reaching out to parent bloggers. Most, if not all, did indeed write about the show/visit and came away from the experience with positive feelings about the network. That's a win all around -- happy bloggers, happy network.
And that's success, at least in my book.
Posted @ 2:06PM in Blogger relations
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