What is Social Media?

Too Big to Succeed

When it comes to social networks and your social media strategy, how much does size really matter?

Well, it depends. 

Take just one example, the eMarketing Association Network on LinkedIn. 

As of mid-March 2013, the eMarketing Association group on LinkedIn had more than half a million members and was growing by another 2-3,000 new members every week! 

By any measure one would have to say that it is a very large network and would probably be considered as being an example of a very successful online community.

But how successful is it?

There are about 1,000-2,000 new discussion topics posted on the site each week! (If you are not familiar with LinkedIn, group members receive an email message either every day or once a week highlighting new discussion topics that have been posted to the site.)

Let's take a closer look.

Just in a recent week, there were exactly 1,137 new discussion topics posted that generated 293 comments or responses. 

Of these discussions, one of them received 30 out of the 293 total comments. That leaves just 263 comments for the remaining 1,136 discussion topics. 

If we allocate just 1 comment to 1 discussion, that leaves 873 posted topics that did not generate a single comment (and this is just for 1 week!). 

That means that even in a group with more than 500,000 members, there were 873 discussions at least that were posted, but that were not interesting enough to garner a single piece of feedback. And this is in a group dedicated to EMarketing. 

Sure, size matters but not at the expense of quality.

If your social community is too small, you will end up with the opposite of what is described above; no discussions and little value for the members in the group.

A lack of discussion or having too narrow of a focus is more likely to cause your social community to fail than getting too large. 

However, ask me to choose between a small group with actionable content versus a large group with an uncontrolled stream of spam and self promoting posts; I will pick the smaller network every time. 

Bigger is not always better, even with social networks and communities.

The next time you feel that your social communities might be too small, focus on the quality of the participants and the content. You will generate conversations that matter and that help your community members.

That is the real measure of success. 


The Unlucky 7 - Common Social Media Mistakes

Because social media is so new, most organizations do not have professional social media strategies designed to deliver business results.  

We have identified 7 common mistakes that are preventing organizations from getting the kinds of measurable business results they expect from their social media efforts:

1. Addressing the wrong audience

Too many organizations are investing too much time on the wrong audience, often attracting followers with free content, who will never turn into customers or members. It is important to segment and understand who your target audience really is rather than use a 'spray and pray' approach with broadcast social media. 

2. Confusing "activity" with results

The number of posts, tweets and likes are often measured and held out as a sign of "success" for social media campaigns, but if these activities do not result in measurable business results at some point, it is like having a lot of smoke but no fire. A high level of activity but no real results is often connected to problem number 1., addressing the wrong audience.  

3. Using the wrong social media platforms

If your target audience is primarily white collar professionals and you are just using Facebook and Twitter to reach them, chances are that you are missing the majority of your audience. LinkedIn is probably a better choice for this type of target group.

Likewise, if you want to really add value to your social media efforts for a close-knit customer community, you should probably consider using a private social networking platform. Using the wrong platform means your are not reaching your target audience. 

4. Neglecting to measure what really counts

Some things in social media are easy to measure; clicks, views, retweets, Likes, followers, etc. However, what really counts is if your audience takes some other actions as a result of your social media communication campaigns. Did you get more customers, sales, meeting attendance, member registrations or renewals because of your messaging campaign? These are the metrics that ultimately count and what you expect from your other marketing and communications campaigns. Why should social media be treated differently?  

5. Having no policies or designing the wrong policies

There are at least 3 categories of social media users in your organization that absolutely need social media policies; a.) all employees in general, b.) those employees that are required to use social media as part of their job duties and c.) any employee that has a hire or fire level of responsibility.

Recent court rulings, including several from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), make it crystal clear that employers need to manage social media legal risks. Having appropriate and legally correct social media use policies, along with training and education, is the best defense against this type of risk.  

6. No definition of "success" or metrics

Why are you using social media in the first place? Too many organizations are using social media because of perceived peer pressure to do so. 'Everyone else has a Facebook Page so we better have one too' without understanding why.

Social media may, or may not, be appropriate for your business. The first step in defining if and how to use social media is to define what you expect it to do for your organization. Are you trying to increase sales and revenue or do you simply want to communicate and inform the general public?  Be clear with yourself first and define what social media "success" should look like for your organization. 

7. The lack of a well thought out strategy and implementation plan

Because social media is so new, most organizations have started out by trial and error and experimentation. A growing number have taken a further step and have hired dedicated staff to manage their social media activities. However, even many of those organiztions that have dedicated staff still do not have a real strategy or plan for implementation. Simply hiring a dedicated staff person to manage your social media efforts does not automatically make up for the lack of a strategy or a definition of what you are trying to achieve.

The development of a professional grade strategic plan by definition is designed to address and eliminate the most common mistakes many organizations are commonly making and to help you achieve real and measurable business results.  


Developing a professional grade social media strategy will achieve at least three things for your organization;

A.) You will avoid wasting time and resources on activities that are not producing results. 

b.) You will reduce potential legal and reputational risks from the use of social media.  

c.) You will be able to align your social media efforts with your core business strategy and be able to measure results towards your goals and objectives. 


SOCIALSTRAT helps organizations to develop professional grade social media strategies that are designed to deliver business results, in line with your organizational objectives. 

Contact us today to learn more.

Terrance Barkan CAE - Direct: +1 202 294 5563 - Email: tbarkan@socialstrat.org



The 5 things a senior manager really needs to know about social media...

Senior managers and department directors don’t have the time to wade through a constant flood of information about how to use social media. Especially when so much social media hype and information is focused on major brands or on “viral” examples that have little to do with practical applications.

Click to read more ...


TheSocialCEO SCORE - How social should you be?

So you have taken the survey;  just 10 short questions to help you determine what is the right social media fit for you as the CEO of your organization.

You have already received your personalized score sheet with observations and recommendations.

Now what?

Now it is time to validate and calibrate your social media strategy against your business objectives.

You want to make sure you can answers these critical questions:

1. Why are we using social media (what is the core objective)?

2. How are we going to measure meaningful social media metrics?

3. What level of measurement targets will define "success" for our organization?

4. How are we managing and controlling social media related risks?

5. How do I know, as the CEO, that social media will deliver positive ROI?

The time for testing and trying social media is over.  Now it is time for business results.  And like all good business processes, you need a strategy and a plan.

SOCIALSTRAT is the official social media strategy partner for TheSocialCEO.

Services include:

  • Custom social media business strategies and implementation plans
  • Social Media "audits" to validate and calibrate your current social media efforts
  • Social media training, workshops, coaching and presentations
  • Social media policies and governance guidelines

Get a quote:

Request a no obligation quote to provide a custom solution that will deliver real social media ROI for your organization.

Email: info@socialstrat.org or call Terrance directly at +1 202 294 5563

* * * 

NOTE: If you are the CEO of your organization and would like to get your SocialCEO Score, take this short 10 question survey. In return, you will receive a personalized report with your responses, observations and recommendations. Find out how "social" you should be!



Using LinkedIn for targeted member recruitment 

The Bottom Line

LinkedIn can be a very effective tool to acquire new members for your association at a lower cost, especially when compared to some of the methods more commonly used today.

How do I know when to use LinkedIn?

Depending on the level of your membership dues, using LinkedIn as a highly targeted one-on-one membership recruitment tool can be an excellent strategy.

Two factors are key in deciding how much time and effort is justified in a LinkedIn one-on-one member recruitment campaign:

a.) What is the lifetime value for one member?

b.) What is the total cost of acquisition for one member?

Lifetime Membership Value - what is a member worth?

For example, for a trade association that charges $10,000 for an annual member company to join and that expects members on average to remain in the association for 5 years, produces a minimum of $50,000 in dues revenue. Add to that income from the sale of education, training, books, events and other items and you could easily arrive at an average $75,000 or more as a lifetime value per member.

For a professional association, the calculation will of course be different but it is still equally relevant. Assume an annual membership fee of $300 and an average retention period of 7 years and you arrive at $2,100 in lifetime membership dues receipts. Add in the participation of live and virtual events, training, education, books etc. and this can well exceed dues revenues over the lifetime of the membership. We'll assume conservatively that it is only equal the membership fees for a lifetime total of $4,200 for every new member recruited.

Cost of acquisition - What does it take to gain one new member?

Associations regularly run membership recruitment campaigns. These can consist of direct mail, email, Search and Pay Per Click advertising or telephone direct recruitment campaigns as several examples.

Regardless of what type of campaigns you are running, it is important to know a.) what is the rate of conversion and b.) what is the actual cost per new member for the campaign?

Let's take a look at a Pay per Click keyword campaign that you might be running on Google (they call these campaigns "Adwords"). In an Adword campaign you would select one or more key search terms (single words or phrases) that you think your target group would search on in Google and write a short three line ad. Here is an actual example of an ad using the keywords "Membership Recruitment". 

Conversion rates

Let's assume that we are paying $3.00 per click for our ad on Google and that we convert "clicks" into members at the rate of 5% (a pretty high actual rate of conversion). That means we are paying $60 to acquire a member (20 clicks X $3.00 ea). If the actual conversion rate is more like 1% we are now paying $300 (100 clicks X $3.00) to acquire one member.

This simple calculation shows why it is critical to choose the right keywords, know how much you are able to pay per click and to maximize your conversion rate from clicks into a paid membership. Your actual results will depend on factors unique to your association.

First step, make some conservative calculations to understand your cost of acquisition.

Note: You would use the same approach to calculate your cost of acquisition for other channels. For example; with direct mail, you would calculate your total costs for design, printing, distribution (postage) and any other directly related costs that need be allocated. You would then divide these costs by the number of new members to arrive at a per member cost of acquisition.

If we paid $2,000 for a designer, $5,000 to print 10,000 pieces, $4,500 for postage at $0.45 per piece to mail and $1,000 for handling we come to a total of $12,500 for this campaign. If we recruit 200 new members as a result (a conversion rate of 2%), we are paying $62.50 per member for acquisition ($12,500 costs divided by 200 new members).

Is LinkedIn a more effective and efficient member recruitment tool?

The beauty of using LinkedIn as a one-on-one member recruitment tool is that you can use a very highly targeted approach to identify and contact well qualified prospective members. This in turn can justify the dedication of staff time to use this approach as opposed to Search and Adword marketing, direct mail or any other more general broadcast channels you are currently using.

Let's assume we are a trade association and we know which companies we want to convert into a member but we do not have good information on who to contact in the company? Using Advanced Search for People in LinkedIn, we can identify everyone that works for a target company and see which position they currently hold.



The Advanced Search function in LinkedIn allows you to use any number of filters to find your prospective members, using a combination of keywords, job titles, company names, geographic location (right down to a specific zip code!) and many other criteria to narrow your search.

In this example, we want to find all current employees from "Diversified Clinical Services".


Search Results

This produces a result that includes a Company Profile Page as well as a list of more than 400 employees that work for our target prospect company. If we are interested in employees that make purchasing decisions, we can easily identify the people we want to contact:



Making the connection 

The next step is to contact our prospective member directly in a professional and positive manner. It is necessary for you to have a premium account with LinkedIn in order to take full advantage of the tools available to you, in particular, the "InMail" system. InMail allows you to send a personal message directly to another member of LinkedIn. Although not all LinkedIn members accept InMail, most do.

Craft a message that allows your prospective member to get some useful information and to find out more about your association for free and without the feeling of being a "sales pitch".


How to convert prospects into Members

Using LinkedIn's advanced search function you can invite prospective members to join your LinkedIn group(s), subscribe to your newsletter,  download useful information or to join your associations private social network. All of which can be steps towards recruiting another new member.

Because you are able to really target a very qualified potential member using this approach, you will find your conversion rates higher than general mailings or pay for click advertising. If it is done right, using LinkedIn for targeted marketing as described above can be done efficient with from only 1 -4 hours per week. By using a template and saving your search criteria as a "Saved Search", you can send as many as 25 targeted messages in an hour.

Assuming you are using staff time that costs $60/hr, if only two of these contacts converts to a member, you are now paying only $30 or roughly half as much for member acquisition as the other examples cited earlier.

Even though your are initially reaching a smaller audience compared to mass email or direct mail, your results in terms of actual member recruitment can be much more effective when using LinkedIn as a one-on-one communications tool.