The big question with a lot of opinions is; Can a business monetize Social Media? Cox Media Group seems to think so. They recently posted a new position for hire "Social Monetization Manager" (SMM). The job description has the typical keywords: email, text, campaigns, social media, mobile. Cox and soon to be many other companies will be hiring people for positions like this. People who can leverage the social media fan base and drive sales. My fear is that the big corps don't understand the ground work that needs to be laid first.
Here is an example of what I mean. Gary Vaynerchuck recent reached #1 on Amazon for preoders of his new book, Thank You Economy (@TYEBook). I preordered it myself and look forward to turning the pages of Gary's experience on social media and consumer management. In order to get to #1, Gary used his personal touch of interaction and "thankfulness" on twitter to drive the preorders - he spent roughly straight 6+ hours doing it. He later put out a video about what he did as a direct example of Thank You Economy practice. However, he has a huge base following - a following he's been building for 6 years. There is a big metric missing in my mind with Gary's achievement. The metric I'd like to know is the percentage preorders that came directly from the people who follow is every move, and the percentage that came from 3, 4, 5 degrees down the line. This is important to know because it will prove or disprove two things: 1. You can reach up 6 degrees beyond the devoted following in a short period of time (is it exponential or linear reach?) 2. Driving sales requires an influential spring-board following. As exciting as it is to see someone truly achieve increased sales from social media, you have to keep in mind the amount of time it took to first build that following and then also nurture it.
So, Cox wants to drive sales with their social media (building a devoted following that cares about their brand). Can Cox as a brand relate to people the same way a charismatic individual can? Cox Arizona has 34,000 fans on Facebook. I scanned a few pages of posts and their posts are primarily social in nature, There were no limited time offers or anything about their service except the occasion answer to a service inquiry - it seemed very unfocused. Their "dead time" is also directly in the middle of the afternoon. There are not many posts between 10am and 6pm from either Cox or fans. They have some work to do! They do a good job being relevant, but there isn't a lot of interaction. The questions I have for Cox are: How deeply connected is Cox to the user base? Is your social media service toubleshooting based or promotion based?
The answer to the question... Yes, you can monetize social media. It requires dedication, interaction and a whole lot of gratitude.
I've been really disappointed with the big companies and their use of social media. If Dominoes can make a comeback by interviewing people about pizza for tv commercials, then Cox, Coke & Walmart can leverage their social media with a team of employees to drive sales. There needs to be more relationship building. Cox won't get record sales or conversions from social media because they don't interact with their base enough. The SMM employees at all major companies will have their work cut out for them!