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Bueller…Bueller…Is Anyone Listening?

A recent AdAge Blog post by Sarah Evans (owner of Sevans Strategy PR firm) provided an overview of 50 interesting social media stats. It was a nice compilation of a bunch of info into one blog “source.”

Some of the stats were basically interesting, like number 1 – there will be nearly 21 million Twitter users in the US by the end of the year. Ok. Good for Twitter, I think. And this one, number 12, one in three texters would rather text than talk. This one kind of sounds like an avoidance maneuver, to me.

For marketers, branders and strategists, simply being aware of the stats isn’t enough. We need to go behind the stats, not just data analysis but interpretation — both objectively and subjectively — about what the stats mean and why, and apply these learnings in a disciplined way to shape marketing and brand strategy.

“I looked at the numbers and this is what they said — We HAVE to be on Facebook.”

From a marketers perspective, it IS actually good to know the US “twitterverse” versus Facebook population (number 3 – 800 million active Facebook users, with more than 200 million added in 2011) versus LinkedIn users at 64 million in the US (number 26). Knowing this can help shape social media strategy and budgets, but only if the stats are further interpreted. Did you know that more than 75% of Facebook users are outside of the US (source: Facebook)? That means more than 600,000,000 Facebook users are located internationally. Good to know if you’re launching an international campaign.

So, if Facebook has ten times the users than does Twitter in the US, a marketer can use that insight to direct marketing spend and product conversation in a social media context. But wait. There’s more.

What about number 22? 95% of Facebook wall posts are not answered by brands. REALLY?! So marketers have invested heavily into driving social conversation about their companies and products only to ignore, almost completely, the conversations happening on their social doorstep? I think that calls for some more interpretation. But, even if it’s kind of true, it is completely ridiculous — and a total misstep in marketing operations — for any company, marketer or brand manager to ignore the social conversation happening around them.

“Hi! I’m a Community Manager.”

According to Search Engine Watch, 96 percent of leading companies plan on increasing their spend in social media. 94 percent indicate Facebook is their top social media platform, followed by Twitter at 77%. But, read this: number 45, 84% of senior executives believe their brand’s sociability is not world class. And, they might be right. Did I mention that 95% of Facebook wall posts are going unanswered? Executing on a social media strategy means engaging in the conversations on social platforms.

Here’s one suggestion for helping rise to world class: before investing another dime in your Facebook strategy, hire a community manager or designate this responsibility within an existing team. A community manager is a brand ambassador and must be a key component to your social strategy. Today, a community manager is as important as your marketing manager, PR manager and brand manager. You may need more than one, depending on scope and scale. This is a critical role for any company who is planning to invest in or increase investment in social media (statistically, that’s 96 percent of you).

Of the 50 referenced stats in the AdAge blog, this is  just a scratching of the surface. The point is to not take the stats at face value. Read into them; interpret them; make connections and use multiple sources to link information to action. It will help drive a better strategy, and better strategy makes for better outcomes.

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