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Tell Execs About Social Media Outcomes, Not Process

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, October 2, 2013

It's a simple statement that hushed a crowded room on Monday morning during a session on analyzing social media efforts. Linda Pophal, owner and CEO of Strategic Communications, had a captive audience when she pointed to a slide that seemed to resonate with many in the room judging by the murmurs and nodding heads.

There were two sentences on the teal and white slide; the first one said, "The most common demand the C-suite has about social media is 'What's the ROI?'" Directly beneath that sentence was the answer, "The problem is that's the wrong question." We all chuckled knowingly as Pophal asked for a show of hands of who had been asked that question about their social media efforts.

Next, Pophal said something that seemed to stun, or at least sting a little, "That's not the wrong question." Silence. Crickets.

Pophal then went on to explain that in order to get buy-in from the C-suite on social media efforts, marketers have to understand that outcome is what is most important to executives, not process measures, which is what likes, re-tweets, and followers represent.

Those metrics, while important to a marketing team because it gauges how well (or not) a particular campaign message is resonating, do not give enough information about how that activity is contributing to the bottom line. And that, really, is what your CEO wants to know.

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