Those of you who are still wondering how to get from social media to social business might take a look at Olivier Blanchard’s Social Media ROI, which I consider to be the most important book out there for folks trying to use social media in a business context.
First, some background on the author: Blanchard is an industry thought leader not only in the social media space, but in the sales and marketing space generally. He runs a great web site devoted to (for lack of a better term) Marketing 2.0 and is active on all the major social media channels. You can find out more about him here.
So much for Blanchard. Now on to his Social Media ROI (The Book).
A How-To Consideration of Social Media ROI
Overall, this is definitely a how-to rather than a theoretical consideration of social media ROI. This isn’t to say that Blanchard is overly focused on tactics; he’s not. There’s enough theory and strategy here to satisfy those of us who are more philosophically minded. But he never loses sight of the fact that strategy is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and in terms of this book, that end is delivering monetary value to the business.
And although Blanchard is a consultant and this book is clearly a way to drive business to his practice, it’s safe to say that most folks could use this book to build a fairly successful social media capability without ever hiring any consultants – an impressive thing in a field where smoke and mirrors prevail and cults of personality have developed around this or that social media guru or E2.0 pundit. It’s refreshing to see Blanchard bring the subject down to earth and talk straight about what firms need to do to succeed. No special sauce or magic bullet; just good old-fashioned business blocking and tackling.
The Main Themes
That having been said, the main themes of the book shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone:
- Social media is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end that must have monetary value for the business.
- Social media strategy is a misnomer; what we’re really talking about is business strategy that leverages social media (as well as other capabilities) to succeed in driving monetary results to the business.
- Success in using social media is not measured in changes in customers’ social media activity (e.g. liking, Tweeting, following, sharing, bookmarking, etc.), but in changes in their buying behaviors.
- Social media ROI must be measured in the same terms that other ROI is measured: dollars and cents.
Blanchard does a great job of addressing each of these themes, both explaining them and demonstrating in tangible ways how you can adopt them in your own social media practice.
And for those of you looking for social media-specific strategies, tactics, tips, and tricks, fear not: Blanchard packs plenty of these into the book as well, which means lots of practical gems for you hands-on social media practitioners in the trenches. But he never forgets that these are all means to the end of driving monetary value for the organization – i.e. lowering costs or increasing revenue.
The Final Word
All in all, I’d say this is a must-read for anyone involved (or even remotely interested) in the business use of social media. But to me, the value of Blanchard’s work goes beyond that: I would recommend Social Media ROI as a good primer on business ROI in general; it just so happens that instead of using operations or product development as an example, he uses social media. But the principles and techniques he covers here are as applicable to more E1.0 business activities as they are to social media.