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Social Media To Cost 20 Percent Of Budget

Written by Todd L. Michaud
September 30th, 2010

Columnist Todd Michaud has spent the last 17 years trying to fight IT issues, with the last seven years focused on franchisee IT issues. He is currently responsible for IT at Focus Brands (Cinnabon, Carvel, Schlotzsky’s and Moe’s Southwestern Grill).

For your retail social media strategy to work, you’re going to need to put 20 percent of your budget toward that strategy. You will also have to keep doing that for the next three to five annual budgets. That’s a radical change from the way you probably think about social media. Forget just hiring a “Twintern” to manage the reputation of your brand in the social space. The toughest part of any solid social strategy is the business-case pitch to the executive team. The new world of everything “social” will absolutely be a game-changer for business as we know it. But it will absolutely not happen overnight. And it certainly won’t be cheap.

A bunch of people out there want you to believe social media and social networks are the ultimate shortcut in the world of business. I, however, am here to say that except for a lucky few, that is not the case.

If anything, social has made it harder—not easier—to succeed in business, because the playing field has been leveled. After all, solo entrepreneurs have a greater social media reach than some of the world’s top brands. For example, there is a guy whose YouTube videos are watched over 3 million times each, and that same guy produces new videos twice a week. Would you believe he is having “apartment issues”? Is that a success story?

I have always taken the approach that a good social strategy is simply a different lens on a good business strategy. I’ve spent a lot of time working with various functional groups in my organization trying to get an effective social strategy in place. I really feel that these tools are going to change the way we all do business. And I can see that a few “tweets” and a few more “fans” or “friends” are not going to produce bottom-line results. I believe IT needs to take a leadership role in a company’s social strategy, helping the business partners avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

As a result, I decided to network with others who feel the same way. That is when I found the Social Executive Council (SEC), a group of senior executives who are the social thought-leaders within their organizations. The group includes marketing folks, PR people and, of course, IT leaders. Various businesses, such as retail, B2B, brands and service companies, are represented.

The members of the SEC get it. They understand that business fundamentals haven’t changed. Instead, the way we communicate and interact with each other has.


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