It's no secret.  The majority of our efforts when it comes to social media are geared towards treading water. Businesses large and small are having enough trouble absorbing and analyzing data; the next step seems to be an abstract, unapproachable burden. That next step? Action. Monetization. Will this experiment start yielding positive results any time soon?

Get Ahead of the Game

According to Marshall Spondor, author of Social Media Analytics, the current, common philosophy is to listen and react. This is inherently passive, which gives the consumer the high ground over the brand.  That's not typical or advised for marketing, advertising or really any facet of business engagement. It not only lacks a forward-thinking approach, it is behind the ball. You can examine all day, and that data will burn a hole in your pocket. You can react all night but the chart has already spiked, and you're just clinging to a declining trend.

Brands and vendors with the necessary resources are focusing on finding scalable solutions that allow you to track measured growth. Does that exist? Yes, in many competing variations. If you're kicking your business into the social stratosphere, you're always exploring undiscovered territory, but you're almost certainly doing it with the perspective of a settler, not an explorer.

You want to build a ranch and herd cattle and have a stake in the world, not ride into the unknown. That means your only option is working with the means you have available, not the vast frontier of resources that's waiting to be harvested.

Strategies Not Included

So let's say that your goal is not to reinvent the wheel; it is to mark progress. Vendors won't hesitate to tell you the secret to determining your social media success. Proposing focused engagement over widespread campaigning has become commonplace. Once that's clear, vendors will demand a clear objective up front. They will take action to help you reach that goal, and hopefully, you will reach it. Realistically, the only way to determine if your goals are being met is if you have a clear set of goals up front. But that's a self-serving approach which doesn't actually go behind the curtain.  It doesn't tell you what impact your earned engagements and interactions will have.

The next thing you have to worry about: finding real ROI from your social media experiment.  The existing ways to measure success just don't seem to do it.  They are linking disconnected statistics, seeking to find concrete trends in an emerging industry that is constantly growing, changing and surprising us. 

Monetization, for now, rests only in a macro sense.  Social Media success correlates to increased revenue.  We know that after we see it.  For now, we may be trapped in the reactive cycle.

Don't Get Discouraged

A glimmer of hope appears like a light at the end of the tunnel. Small measurements are more useful then they would appear, especially when one has the ability to cut through the noise. While some part of your results may inevitably rely on human intuition, that doesn't make them useless. After all, if you ask me, intuition half of exploration and most of innovation. There's enough structured data out there to keep your army of nerds busy all day, but there's also real value right there on the surface. 

Consider the value of capitalizing on trends, and existing in a real-time world. Consider that each interaction is effective. These are valuable opportunities, and nothing less. Remember that once we were barking at the moon, or not even barking at all. Rather than fighting big data, embrace direct interaction. I doubt you'll find anyone who thinks that's a bad idea.