How Do You Define Success on Social Media?

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I recently read a question posed by Hootsuite that asked: How do you define success in social media? To be honest, I didn’t really know how to answer that question. I had lots of thoughts on the topic but couldn’t frame up an answer concisely. So, as I worked on formulating my answer, I also asked my connections on social media for their thoughts. I wanted to see how others looked at this question.

But before we get into all that, let’s start at the beginning. According to the website, Success is defined as:

  1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted
  2. The gaining of fame or prosperity

Now, these could be two mutually exclusive definitions depending on what your attempted goal is. However, if your goal is to gain fame or prosperity, than they are one and the same.

But, assuming we aren’t defining social media success as being rich and famous, I want to focus on the first portion of the definition.

One of my social media connections, and valuable LinkedIn expert, Stacy Zapar, phrased it nicely by saying, “To me, success in social media means achieving your personal / professional goals through relationships built and fostered online.” Based on the definition listed above, I think she nailed it!

But I want to dig a little deeper. Let’s look at it from a business perspective.

You can read the rest of this post at:

14 thoughts on “How Do You Define Success on Social Media?

  1. Jenn- A good post on the much debated subject of SM success or ROI. My take is, social media plays a secondary role as you have revealed. Traditional media is still the dominant force. This could change, but for now this is the way things work. Media integration, naturally a hot topic, allows the marketer to amplify their brand reach. If a business is not actively considering this, they can be sure their competition is.

    Success in the social media arena comes from realizing that social media is about connections and interactions between people. It’s not about brand-to-consumer exchanges. Focus on bringing people together, not bringing a product to the marketplace.

    GoodJob, rcb

    • Thanks Randy! You bring up some good points too. Social media really is about the relationships forged between people. And we can see in countless examples that those companies doing well on social media are almost always the ones who embrace this mentality.

  2. I agree that finding “success” on social media is dependent upon your definition and goals. My goal was to get my business name out there to people and companies I would probably not have reached otherwise. This meant working on building my reputation online through my posts, shares, and especially my blog and online newspaper. Once again, great article Jenn that I will be sure to share!

    • Thanks Kim! And I think a lot of people are in the same shoes of expanding brand awareness. Social media is a great way to achieve that! And as long as you know that’s your goal, you can set your plans accordingly. But it’s also important to remember that if the goals change in the future, the plan will need to change as well.

  3. Interesting post Jenn especially with the variety of opinions on Social Media success. I watched a Marketing webinar this week and the phrase Return On Engagement instead of ROI was used. Yes it’s a little fluffy but I think it’s apt.

    Many of the benefits of Social Media are not easy to define into ROI. How do you measure credibility and trust? These lead to sales, but not directly – it’s a continuous process of connecting, engagement and relationships.

    Great post again 🙂

    • Thanks Jason! I did get some great feedback from my social media connections.
      Unfortunately, it is hard to measure the ROI of social media. I often say it’s a necessary part of doing business – like paying your electricity bill. It doesn’t mean you can directly calculate the value, but I can promise you your business will suffer if you don’t do it.
      And yes, it is a continuous process. It is not an overnight reward. But I think it’s worth it!

      • Very true that a business will suffer if you can’t measure ROI. I always think that time is the one resource needed to make Social Media a success, which can be calculated.

        I guess my take away from your post is measure measure measure 🙂

  4. Hi Jenn, thanks for the opportunity to comment! Success in social media….. I have formulated the opinion that social media and relationship marketing is the same as word of mouth advertising. I am so focused on engagement and reach! This platform is just another tool in the marketing tool belt. But, it is the one tool that enables a biz to establish and nurture relationships. These relationship could become a Client. Or, these relationships could be the conduit to a Client. As you form the relationship on whatever social media platform(s) you choose, you increase the reach and the number of eyes that could possibly view your page, your service or product! That reach become the “world of mouth” advertising. Increase engagement and increase reach and your possible business opportunities will increase as well. The one thing that I always try to focus on though is real estate. And the biz’s real estate is their website. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Why? Because you haven’t created a relationship with that horse. LOL But, lead a relationship to your website, and the potential to do biz with them is greater.

    • Thanks for your comments Michael! Yes, social media is a great way to nurture relationships which can lead to clients, as you said! And I think it’s important, like you mention, that the key to successful conversion is a good website. Social media is only one step in the process of converting clients.

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  6. Some good points raised here Jenn. I agree that social objectives will vary by client, but I’ve always based my social initiatives around two key facets – relationships and conversations. That’s why social media is rarely a “quick fix”. Yes, you will have your brands who comes up with great social ideas which contribute to traffic and conversions, but these are few and far between. I find usually the best way to use social is to integrate the earned media strategy with paid and owned (ie: adding fuel to the fire). Conversations and relationships are things that are built overtime, thus brands who understand the hidden value of social will also understand that social should rarely be used as a one-off fix. Instead, it should be a strategic always-on process that builds layer upon layer of valuable content for your consumer

    • Thanks Adrian! Yes, social media really is all about the conversations and the relationships. As you said, it is not, by any means, a “one-off fix” and it does build over time.

  7. Pingback: Six Ways Nonprofits Succeed on Social Media | Communicate!

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