eav-grade-social-mediaIn the precursor to this post I wrote:

Before we can figure out how to better use EAv, we’ve got to know why we’re using social media. In other words… First, we determine what our social media goals are, then we determine how to better use EAv to reach them.

I followed that by listing 12 Benefits of Social Media (which became 14 after adding two more contributed in the comments). So how good is EAv at helping us gain each of those 14 benefits of social media?

The Targeting Problem

One of the biggest barriers to success on Empire Avenue right now is the difficulty of targeting missions to your target audience.

If you’re marketing something with very broad appeal like an Empire Avenue tool, a global brand like Coca-Cola or global charity like Compassion International, almost everyone on Empire Avenue is in your target audience.

But if you’re marketing something with a very small niche like a single local store, a local charity or tongue depressors for the Mountain Pygmy Possum, then only a small percentage of Empire Avenue users are in your target audience.

The Grades

That said, each of the 14 benefits of social media falls into one of 3 categories:

  • A) EAv can help me realize it regardless of what percentage of EAvers are in my target audience
  • B) EAv can help me realize it but only to the degree that my target audience is on EAv
  • C) EAv can’t help at all

So, let’s categorize each of the 14 benefits.

1) Branding. Is there value to branding to people outside your target audience? In my opinion, not much unless you think they may become part of your target audience down the road. B.

2) Networking/subscribers. Is there value to having subscribers who are not in your target audience? As with branding, not much. B.

3) Collaboration. There is almost an infinite number of ways people can collaborate – partnerships, referrals, vendors, funding, and many more. Consider how the people in an EAv Facebook group collaborate desite the wide variety of locations, interests and businesses we have. Because the options are limitless, it’s possible to collaborate in some way with nearly anyone. But realistically, of all the people on EAv you’ve met how many you actually end up collaborating with? Call it an A-/B+.

4) Social proof. Likes/comments/shares imply content has quality and the author has authority regardless of who does the likes/comments/shares. A.

5) Search rankings. Shares, likes and +1s improve search rankings. It’s better if the people doign the shares, likes & +1s are in your target audience & connected with people in your target audience, but there’s benefits even if they’re not. A.

6) Sales. You’re not going to get sales from anyone but your target audience. B.

7) Learning. I’m sure we can all point to things we’ve learned from people we’ve met on EAv. EAv also challenges us to be better and more consistent at social media. So, I guess I’ve got to give this an A.

8) Content. The extent to which we connect with people who produce great content you can share with your connections probably depends on the extent to which you can connect with people who share your same interests. I’m going with B.

9) Customer service. Unless you’re existing customers are on EAv, you can’t help and listen to them. Your number of customers is going to be smaller than your target audience, so lets call this a B-. (Though there is a real possibility here for global brands)

10) Customer loyalty. Same deal as above. B- with some real possibilities for global brands.

11) Serving others. You can serve anyone regardless of whether they’re in your target audience. A.

12) Leading change. Social media can enable a person to build or join a tribe of people who share a passion. Your capacity to do this through empire avenue depends on the percentage of people on EAv who share your passion. That sounds like a B.

13) Personal branding/followers. If you’re a social media manager, you may want to use social media to increase your own personal brand and followers, which you can then leverage to market whatever product, organization or cause you like in the future. In this case, your target audience is bigger than it would be for any one company, nonprofit or cause, but it’s still not infinite. Even social media networkers have to focus their message. But since there is such a high interest in social media on EAv, I’ve gotta give this an A

14) Getting into the recommendation chain. Research shows the most trusted form of marketing is the recommendation of a friend. So, the idea here is that while you may be able to reach a certain number of people through social media, those people have dozens of friends beyond your reach who might recommend you to. It’s essentially branding to both your target and non-targeted audience  in the hopes that they might recommend you to your target audience. I give it an A-.

The A’s – Benefits for All

That means the social media benefits which we can all use Empire Avenue to achieve regardless of the size of our niche include:

  • 3) Collaboration (A-/B+)
  • 4) Social proof
  • 5) Search rankings
  • 7) Learning
  • 11) Serving others
  • 13) Personal branding/followers
  • 14) Getting into the recommendation chain

The B’s – Benefits of Targeting

The social media benefits which can only be realized if your audience is very broad or we figure out how to overcome the barriers to targeting:

  • 1) Branding
  • 2) Networking/subscribers
  • 6) Sales
  • 8) Content
  • 12) Leading change
  • 9) Customer service (B-)
  • 10) Customer loyalty (B-)

Discussion

We covered a lot of ground here and there are lots of potential areas for discussion, but let me throw a few questions out see where you all want to take it.

  1. What insight did you gain from the ratings? Anything in particular you agree or disagree with?
  2. Which of the 14 benefits of social media are you currently using EAv to achieve?
  3. Does seeing the benefits of social media categorized like this cause you to reconsider your EAv strategy?