Posts Tagged value

Of social business and sand castles

Posted by on Thursday, 13 March, 2014

sandcastle_xlibber Where do you find the value in social business?

It’s a common question, especially in the corporate world where every activity needs to show some tangible value to justify its continuance. But, tying direct value to every action isn’t an easy task. In fact, doing so is likely the most difficult task facing social strategists today. Why is this?

The answer, like the question, is both simple and utterly complex. You see, the value from social business is seen in the small connections and conversations we have over time, all of which are grains of sand in what will someday make up a castle. Some castles may be a simple overturned pail shape on a busy public beach, others may be expertly crafted life-sized versions like you see in competitions… but in all cases, it is the connections of each grain of sand which come together to build something bigger than themselves.

Each connection you make, each conversation you have, is another grain of sand in the castle of your social business presence. Like sand castles, the value in social business isn’t as quantifiable as counting the grains of sand that make up the whole. The value is in how they are connected and the view of what they build. Some sand castles are simple and effective at bringing value to the child who built it; providing a sense of accomplishment and purity of fun in the building. Others are built for competition and judged on particular criteria to determine the winner. Yet, neither of these examples nor any that fall in between can be considered to have innate value, or likewise a lack of value.  The value in each of these cases is fluid depending on the goals and purpose for each.

In social business, it is indeed the achievement of your defined goals which will show you the value. I’ve blogged before on the need to define your purpose/goals before setting out on a social business strategy. But, of course, even then not all goals are easily quantified. Increasing influence, building digital eminence, and thought leadership are lofty goals which come with very little in the way of reportable metrics for success, so what can we use instead to show the value with these goals in mind? How can we quantify the beauty of a sand castle?

Stories. It is the connection of each of these grains that work to build the beautiful sand castles, the larger picture if you will, and likewise it is the stories of successes reaped from social business connections which combine upon themselves to show the value inherent in social engagement. So, to that end, I’ll leave you with this story that I’ve posted previously and that I believe exemplifies one of the many benefits of blogging:

I had a practical lesson in the benefits of blogging on Friday morning. During a routine skip-level conversation with my program director, I was able to impress upon him some answers to his questions by referring to a few blog posts I’d published that week and prior in the past few months.

Even as I was pointing him to those entries did I realize the value of blogging: I had content available, on demand that I was able to quickly reuse to address a few questions in a relatively concise fashion. Not only did these posts immediately address his questions, but more so they showed that I was a step ahead of the game, that I’d already been thinking about the issue before he even asked.

In this way, blogging for me has become a source of reusable self-generated content I can rely upon to either provide solutions or supplement larger strategy conversations and stands as testament to my expertise around my job and is now working its way to being a solid piece to my resume.

See 😉 Reusable, self-generated content to help show the value of efforts. Social business works. To thrive, adopt the role of story-teller and show your audience value rather than just telling them.

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image credit: (cc)  Some rights reserved by xlibber

 

On the value of thought leadership

Posted by on Thursday, 23 June, 2011

It is no secret that anyone working in the social business world struggles daily with how to measure value and return on their investment (ROI) in the space. If we can figure out how to effectively measure our work and translate it into monetary value, we’re golden. Come up with a nice easy formula in the support space to show avoided cost, something like: “total clicks to payload x success indicator x %clients who would call = avoided call ticket x cost per case = avoided cost”  and you’ve got your end of story, right?

Well, not so fast (you knew I wasn’t going to let you go that easily right?). What about measuring those intangibles I spoke of in my earlier post here? How can you effectively measure thought leadership and eminence in the industry? Or rather, and perhaps more importantly, is the value of being a thought leader more important than the simply monthly indicators of engagement and content consumption?

I’m fairly certain you can see what I’d argue here…. that thought leadership, that digital eminence is actually the primary purpose of social business, everything else we do is secondary to supporting that higher goal. Sharing our high value content? Sure, that’s an essential part of what we do…. which goes to support the end result of raising our place in the digital world and the ultimate perception that we are indeed the thought leaders in our industry.

Let me take an exampled approach here, and bear with a few assumptions along the way:
You all know I am passionate about whiskies. No arguments from any of you on that point I’m sure. Amongst my friends (outside of the actual industry) you may possibly consider me as a burgeoning thought leader when it comes to topics surrounding whiskies. But why is that? Is it simply because I consistently post a measurable number of links to quality whiskies related content? Or is it because over time I’ve consistently provided quality content related to specifics of whiskies in conjunction with other efforts I make in other spaces to learn and help teach others about this water of life? I’ll bet you’d tell me the latter of the two choices. But which of the two is more important to you? Is just receiving the content enough to warrant me as a thought leader when it comes to whisk(e)y? Again I’d wager to say, no, it isn’t. Thought leadership is critical to what my boss recently described as “compounded interest”. Which makes perfect sense to me.

Continuing with the example…  let me ask; is my thought leadership in the whiskies world of benefit to you? My guess here is that it is, but only when you need it. I am often asked by friends and family for recommendations of whiskies to give as gifts; and I am happy to oblige, especially since answering those questions typically helps me learn and stay up to date on pricing changes and allows me to hone my skills at choosing decent drams. But it is only important to you because the issue on your plate is what bottle to buy for your friend. If you weren’t in that predicament, my thought leadership in the space wouldn’t be of value to you. This exemplifies my point about thought leadership; that there is value there, possibly great value, but only in a ‘just-in-time’ ad hoc model. Right now, as I write this entry, my eminence (bear with me on that assumption) as a whiskies subject matter expert is irrelevant since I am neither posting specifically about whisky, nor is anyone presently utilizing my knowledge about the topic, so I’m not seeing value right now, nor have I over the course of this month. Last month, however, my thought leadership WAS valuable as I was able to recommend a moderately priced bottle as a gift, making a big impact upon the recipient from what I hear, but also not breaking the bank to do so. In that case, I’d say my eminence could have a direct monetary value had I not been asked and had a higher priced bottle been purchased.

My point in this is to show that thought leadership can only be built over time, and the value only seen at the whim of the client with no way to predict how or when that value will be recognized. Perhaps, in the technical support world it will be in avoiding a call ticket because a client remembered a blog post on the topic which included the answer, or perhaps it will be during a sales call when a client signs a maintenance agreement because they recognize our eminence in the space and know we can help them effectively and efficiently when they encounter difficult issues….

Thought leadership is potentially VERY valuable in these instances, but (like the above example), is not solely a product of just work in social business, rather it is a holistic drive connecting all sorts of activities which combine to build that eminence over time. Eminence which can show value in varied, unexpected ways, which can often skirt any potential to accurately measure and connect effort to value.