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How do you Measure Success?


I save way more than I need to. I’ll admit I do have a bit of a hoarder in me, not to the extremes that you see on TV, but only in the sense that the things that I save have a) some sort of lifetime business value or b) a sentimental family value. So, needless to say, there is a bit of an accumulation.

That means not only do I occasionally print things out, but I also bookmark a lot of sites and I also write stuff down on anything and everything. Translation-stacks of paper, folders, random scraps of paper, bar napkins and the backs of envelopes are not an uncommon sight on my desk. For me, when the thought or idea hits I reach for whatever is around to get it down on paper before it flies away!

The takeaway is that I realize that I save stuff, so I’m always trying to weed through and see what I can save and what I can throw away, which leads me to what I found written on a the back of an unopened envelope this past weekend. It simply said:

How do you measure success?

It’s weird but when I wrote it down it didn’t have the same impact as it did at that moment. Maybe it’s the timing of words. The moment has to be right for them to have the greatest effect. Regardless, they were powerful words, if not a powerful question.

I immediately sat down and just started to noodle on it. Maybe it should be your success? How are you measuring your success? My success? Some might tell you that success is relative. And it is. As singer songwriter Paul Simon once sang, “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor.” We all can measure success either incrementally or micro-incrementally. The point being that we can measure it no matter how large or how small.

We can call them baby steps. We can call it growth, maturity, experience, whatever. The bottom line is that we can associate success with the smallest of things or the largest. All you have to do is “define” it. Define your success and define it in terms that make sense. I think sometimes we believe that we have failed because we have not succeeded. Perhaps it’s because we failed at looking at success in the right way?


Noted scholar and teacher, W. Edwards Deming, is incorrectly attributed to a quote that gets used each and every day. It’s as follows: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Most people have the quote wrong and yet it continues to be an extremely popular saying. In its present form, it fits for the sake of this discussion. However, what Dr. Deming really said was that one of the seven deadly diseases of western management is “Running a company on visible figures alone.” This makes complete sense and yet runs counter to the quote, but is a perfect segue’ into how we all measure success in digital and social marketing.

I read Dr. Deming’s “real” quote to say that you need to trust your gut and trust your instincts. In other words, know that though the numbers may say that you have a “successful” company, if everyone is miserable and everyone hates you? Is that success? Is that a visible figure?

For a lot of large companies and even the small ones, it’s all about measuring the impact of their efforts, right? Whether it is sales, leads, deals closed, online orders or prospects identified etc., companies can’t really keep the lights on without this type of quantifiable data. Some will call this ROI and still others will simply break down these efforts as, “Here’s the money coming in, here’s the money going out and here are the expenses.”

However, the bottom line is that in business or in life, what we all do, whether we realize it or not, is we measure the outcomes. Maybe not so much in an analytical way but we do measure our daily outcomes. Was it fun? Did we lose? Was it worth it? Did you have a bad experience? Did they like you? Was it your fault? Did you win? Did you buy it? Did you get the promotion? Lose your job? Did you diet? How was your workout? Are these successes? Sure they are!

Yes, like it or not, it would seem that we do measure all of our engagements and experiences. Things that we manage it would seem, Dr. Deming notwithstanding, can be measured. We are indeed, measuring our success.
But maybe we’re missing the big picture? Maybe, just maybe, we’re getting the definition of success wrong? Or maybe we’re just not defining it properly? Perhaps if we realign our definition of success, we can achieve more?

Two questions that I always ask of every friend or client who either wants to get themselves or their company in to the digital game, whether it’s social media, mobile marketing, web design, search engine optimization or otherwise:

What do you want to do and why do you want to do it?

Be clear on those 2 objectives and then be clear on how you’re going to measure your success. Little wins are just as important as the big ones!

How to Start the Day

I haven’t been posting much, for that I blame it on client work. With that being said, I stumbled on this and thought I would share. It comes from a site called Funders and Founders. Good stuff!

The State of Digital Marketing 2014

Thanks to the folks over at  Web Marketing 123 for this Infographic.

The Reality of Social Currency


One of the tougher jobs on any given days in the digital space is the curation and or the creation of good content. It’s everywhere and sometimes it doesn’t matter what RSS feeds ot Flip Boards or whatever you use to find it, it can slip through the cracks. Case in point, this morning I came across an interview with Erich Joachimsthaler, a former Harvard professor, author of over 40 articles & two books on brand strategy and the CEO of Vivaldi Partners Group. The interview, conducted by Steve Olenski on Explore B2B was titled: What Twinkies Can Teach Marketers About Comebacks And Social Branding.

Though it was a great read, I was struck by two particular exchanges that I’m semi-condensing. Pay attention to what Joachimsthaler says about social metrics.

Steve Olenski: What are some of things Hostess has done right in re-introducing and re-engaging the Twinkies brand with its fans in your opinion?

Erich Joachimsthaler: They have done well by building on key drivers of social currency mainly conversation, advocacy and affiliation (#cakeface instagram, etc). That is, the comeback campaign sought to activate loyalists and fans through various efforts on social networks. The good part about this effort is that it stretches the marketing dollars because it creates more visibility and awareness for the re-launch. At best, the effort creates some awareness to consideration conversion. The problem with this effort is that it does not lead toward purchase and loyalty.

The category requires constant and always-on top of mind marketing/PR buzz and it is hard to sustain such effort on social channels alone, and media advertising which is relatively expensive and not sustainable. I would say, it is impossible in today’s media cluttered environment, and consumers’ who tend to have ever shorter attention spans.

Olenski: How can Hostess ensure this (Twinkies return) will be a sustained effort and not just a fad that will eventually fade?

Joachimsthaler: Don’t be misled by social media metrics, likes, fans, and followers. It has about 650,000 likes on Facebook, compare this to more than 17 million for Nutella and 34 million for Oreo for example. Don’t measure the re-launch and sustained success on these metrics. Sustainable success will require driving consideration to purchase conversion and purchase to loyalty conversion. Those are the social currency metrics that really matter.

What caught my eye?

  • Social currency metrics worth measuring are driving consideration to purchse conversion and purchase to loyalty conversion.
  • Don’t be misled by social media metrics, likes, fans, and followers.
  • The key drivers of social currency are conversation, advocacy and affiliation

I know you’ve read and heard it all before about social currency and social metrics, or maybe not, but sometimes the message can resonate in different ways depending on the context in which it is said. In this context, it was said matter of factly. Well done!

The Biggest Social Media Story of 2013

Remember this? It’s one of the classic lines of all times in a movie. Greed is Good.


Remember this? It was one of the biggest acquisitions in 2013.



Remember this because it will be the social media headline of 2013…



To quote The New York Times:

What business makes no money, has yet to pass its third anniversary and just turned down an offer worth billions of dollars? Snapchat, a social media service run by a pair of 20-somethings who until last month worked out of a beachfront bungalow in Venice, Calif.

The answer is in this last headline.




A better offer…

Children and Social Media Project

I’m starting a new project. I have no time to really be doing this but it means that much to me; and I know it will have an impact, so I’m doing it. First the backstory. It started with an email I sent to the superintendant of our school system. It went unanswered. Here’s a few excerpts:

Dear ____ It’s been awhile since we last talked, the most recent being when we held a social media summit meeting in your office with some of the other “social media” people in our area….
…I continue to think about the impact that digital and social have on our kids. In as much that my children, are pretty heavy users, I’d like to think that I’m better than most parents at monitoring their usage; and that’s what scares me. I have come to the realization that the digital environment in which kids swim in is downstream as their parents swim upstream. We need to fix that
I don’t have the answers right now but what I do know is that there has to be an approach that leverages what we learn from their usage versus what they learn while at school and what parents learn on their own. There is a definite gap. Eventually we won’t be able to escape BYOD in the school sytem, but beyond that, where I think the gap is largest is in a lack of understanding of the mediums and the platforms, their impact and their implications.
I write this as someone who cares not only about my kids but also the kids of parents who just don’t know. I see a lot of kids, mine included, who sometimes don’t handle social properly, understand the impact of social and don’t realize the search implications of social. We have to fix this….
It starts with the wireframe below. it’s just a wireframe but it’s a start. I already have the URL too. It’s called The Social Parent.  I’ll eventually hand this over to some developers, but I’m still trying to flesh out what content needs to be there. the key? It has to be updated constantly. Things are changing rapidly. I’m not looking to make money, just make a difference. :)

The Attention Economy is Distracting Me


Twitter has the RT button and the favorite button. Linkedin has an endorse button, Facebook has a like button and G+ has the plus.  I know you “get” what they all do, at least you should, but I have a question for you.  Aren’t all of those social buttons just surface level engagement triggers that require little or no engagement by the user and the recipient? Yes? No?

Of course they are, and I’m OK with it  and you should be too. Let me explain. I’ll keep it brief.  :)

When you notice or have been notified that you have been liked or favorited or endorsed, what changes for you? How do you react? Do you feel that you now must reciprocate? Do you like the attention you just received? Was it your goal to get attention? Do you care? Do you feel anything or do you just move on? It all depends on who it is, right? For me, I try to take time to understand the why behind the why. Why did that person do what they just did? What were they trying to elicit from me? Why me? But maybe I’m looking too deeply into the action than the action itself really deserves? I think I am.

You see, because of the volume of content that one is subjected to each and every day, at least from my standpoint, the ability to give that content or source, all of the needed attention it made greatly deserve, is greatly diminished. The best you might get from me as I race past your stuff at 100 mph, is the virtual equivalent of a nod.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to read your stuff, it’s just that the best you can get from me right now is a like or a star or a favorite.

The only slight little problem with that “action,” is that by allowing people to click a like or favorite button, we unknowingly might be reducing true engagement and the possibility of an actual, ok semi-actual, conversation.

The irony though, is that we (marketers) still look at that piece of user/consumer data as being really valuable; and don’t get me wrong, it does have a use and value. It’s just that we’re so desperate for good social data, that we’re willing to create, support and proactively use a somewhat worthy and somewhat hollow metric that is The Like, The RT, The Endorse and The Favorite.

What those buttons really measure is a modicum of attention, a flicker of action and the “hope” of engagement.  So why are we suckers for clicking on them?  For the majority of users, NOT clicking the button means that they might NOT get something for their time and effort. For the rest of us, clicking is the least (or maybe the most) that can we do in this always on, multi-channel, multi-device world.

I do want to read your stuff, I really do. I just don’t have an answer for you yet on how I can add your content to the 32 tabs I have open, Besides, I’m too busy looking at someone’s profile who I don’t know, endorsing me for a skill I don’t have on Linkedin. :).

The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.


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