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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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4 Comments | Read Social Media To Cost 20 Percent Of Budget

  1. Greg Troyer Says:

    Todd, some constructive feedback for you on this. First, you are preaching there is one right way to approach social media. That’s ludicrous. Everyone is still figuring this stuff out and learning as they go. Secondly, you quote someone who leads the Social Executive Council saying we need to spend more money in this area. Really? I wonder why someone who leads such a council would say such a thing. Finally, your childish cheap shots at some of your restaurant competition seem beneath someone such as yourself. Instead of criticizing the iPhone apps, twintern, etc. that YUM brands has put out there, maybe you should say these are nice first steps. After all, the twintern was put out there over 2 years ago and most retailers are yet to do anything in this space.

    Best, Greg

  2. Todd Michaud Says:

    Greg,
    Thank you for taking the time to post. First, let me start by saying that I in no way intended to take a shot at YUM. I just did a lookup on Twintern and saw the references. When I wrote the column, I did not have them in mind at all. I apologize for the appearance that I was taking a dig at them. That was absolutely not my intent.

    As a matter of fact, I often use YUM as an example of a restaurant brand that is doing a lot right in social media. When it comes to “social media” I think that those tactics are not only spot on, but are having huge impact. Would I love to have an iPhone app with over a million downloads? Absolutely.

    I think that the title is misleading. The point that I was trying to make is that is just the beginning. Customers are changing the way they interact with businesses not just with marketing, but sales, operations, customer service and even with other traditional non-customer facing organizations like IT, finance and development.

    The point was you can’t stop at social media, you have to adopt a social strategy that transforms your entire businesses. Almost every book or article on the topic stops short. I strongly believe that this will be transformative, a highly disruptive, change in the way we do business. Businesses will be forced to invest a large amount of money in that transformation, or fall woefully behind.

  3. A Critic Says:

    It’s difficult to take any journalist seriously when he or she is unable to write an article without grammatical errors. When making comparisons, the correct word to use is “than”, not “then”.

  4. Steve Says:

    boy, some readers are cranky :)

    i’ll use this aticle as proof to my clients that they need to forget the thought the facebook is easy and cheap, and dedicate time to make a plan and assign resources, budgets, and visionary thinking toward it.

    i’ll use my own anecdotal evidence here. I work at home, and we recently switched out internet service from a local ISP who was falling behind, to Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner service. The speed jump was amazing. But 7 days later our internet and tv service was down. I went to the TWC RR website for my local area, but there was nothing mentioned in the “alert” box featured prominently on their main page side bar. So I turned to twitter on my iphone to see if anybody nearby was tweeting anything. nothing. Then I searched google to see if this huge corporate entity had a twitter account I could follow. I found their twitter help desk, but it appeared to be a nationwide help desk, so I asked if TWCRR had a local twitter account that I could follow to learn about service outages in my local area. They pointed me to some crap twitter account that was a firehose of pure advertising for TWCRR services. Nothing resembling a real human. But the nationwide help desk did follow-thru for me and found that our area had experienced a cut fiber optic cable that affected a 50 mile radius area. This was a pretty big service interuption, but there was nothing on their website abuot it, and no local twitter feedback about it. I had to ask the nationwide help desk about it, and then they went to find out about it and then tweeted about it to the entire nationwide list. Does that seem retarded? Or am I expecting too much from the highly paid executives that run the company, that maybe they could brainstorm and come up with ideas on how to use social media like twitter to coomunicate effectively with customers, instead of just pooping more advertising on all of us?

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