It’s possibly the best presentation on social media available right now; Social Media at Scale: Return on Amazing by ex-Walgreen social media director Adam Kmiec (now at Campbell Soup Company. Incisive, insightful – and very practical.

We recommend watching the YouTube video (and reading the transcript), recently posted and recorded at eTail East as a trailer for upcoming Social Commerce Strategies Conference 15 – 17 January, 2013  in Las Vegas.  But if you don’t have the time, here’s the skinny;

The basic message is deceptively simple – the secret to social is to do something amazing, then get out of the way and let people talk.  We couldn’t agree more.

The virtual thumbs ups of social media feedback is a simple proxy for your amazingness.  Smart brands see social media as an effect, not a cause – the result of doing amazing stuff. Amazing stuff gets shared; because it is worth sharing.  So the simple lesson is that social media will work when you do (amazing) stuff worth sharing.

  • Think Apple, and it’s “Apple Says Yes” response to “Wife Said No” returned iPad
  • Think Kraft’s daily twist Oreo culturejamming – Mars Landing Oreo
  • Think BMW with BMW Films

While we’re not keen on messing with established terms in the snake oil filled world of social media – ROI -> ROA; (ROI is a financial measure – financial gain – financial cost/financial cost, ROA is not – and that invites confusion), Adam’s presentation cuts to the chase of social media, it’s a pulse of your amazingness.

Positive ROI is a consequence of delivering amazingness.

And to be amazing, Adam argues what you don’t need is more data – we already know more than we can possibly understand.  What you need is insight.  Use social media to find what people find amazing – stuff worth sharing, and build on that.

We particularly liked his swipe at social media gurus that

  • a) offer cookie cutter solutions – they don’t work
  • b) promote social media as a customer service channel – it usually sucks, and doesn’t scale
  • c) treat social media as a direct channel that reduces social media to social spam and your business to a bottom-feeding brand that makes Robocall direct mail campaigns look good
  • d) assign a financial value to a Like, Tweet, Pin or share  - it’s a triumph of naivety and stupidity over reality

If you think this sounds like John Kay’s Obliquity meets Seth Godin‘s Purple Cow, then you’re right – and that’s a good thing.

Now go and do something amazing for your customers.