Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Thursday, February 9, 2012

Few weeks back, @Chamara posted a Facebook status asking for ‘Social Media Success Stories’ from Sri Lanka. My instantaneous response (which I posted as a comment) was ‘it depends’.

‘Success’ is a relative word, as it depends on how you define your desired outcomes. What brand ‘A’ expects to see as social media results may totally be different from what the brand ‘B’ defines as success. Without knowing what you want to achieve from your social media campaign, it is impossible to define whether your campaign had been successful or not.

Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka most social media marketing campaigns start off with no proper objective in mind. Let me guess how you started your social media efforts! A top executive in your company read something online about the ‘Facebook phoenomena’ and told his immediate subordinates (the middle managers), “Hey, Facebook is becoming really cool. Let’s do something there”.

The middle managers (who are most of the time middle aged as well, and are not really fans of Facebook), will turn to the IT manager of the company and ask ‘Errrr.... why don’t you look into this? After all, it’s something to do with the Internet, so why don’t you give it a try?”. The IT manager walks into his department, and picks up the guy who he most frequently noted browsing Facebook while at work (a junior IT executive, in most of the cases). 

From that point onwards, that guy will be in charge of the entire social media presence of the brand. This is how, most of the Facebook pages of local brands ends up in the hands of the IT department, instead of the marketing or corporate communications department where it should ideally belongs.

Then you start spending money on ‘building your Facebook presence’. Spend money on sidebar ads, spend money on bribing fans to write positive comments on your wall, spending money to hire freelancers, so on and so forth. After about two three months, you call up that young executive from the IT department and ask “How is our Social Media campaign doing?”. The young IT executive answers “We’ve done 50,000 fans in three weeks, and we are 20,000 fans ahead of our biggest competitor”. Most managers stop at this point and say “Great! Well done!”, but how many of you will ask the question “so what? What’s the point of having 50,000 fans on my Facebook page? What’s your plan next?”. If you ask this question, many things will begin to surface. You will realize for the first time, that you have not set proper objectives for your social media campaign, you have not identified measurement criteria for success, you have not initiated your Facebook page as a plan of a much larger overall social media strategy. (Strategy? Ah! The most abused word in management jargon!)

Sadly enough, this is the true status of how Social Media Marketing is done in Sri Lanka. May be this is not a problem unique only to Sri Lanka, as there is no proper set of commonly agreed global standards for managing social media. As a result, most companies blindly run after the ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ count on Facebook and Twitter as measures of ‘success’. This false sense of success, paves the way for publishing false case studies as ‘success stories’.

A true success story should clearly answer the question ‘how social media helped to solve a business problem for your company, or how it helped to take your brand to a different level?’. A true succes story should have a clear set of defined social media goals in the begining, and sound evidence to show that, you have achieved those goals. It may need not to be a huge achievement but the most important thing is, there need to be a positive ‘impact’ from the social media campaign, on your business. In other words, the ‘status quo’ of your business should be different when you compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ the social media campaign.

Now, back to @Chamara’s question “are there any Social Media Success stories in Sri Lanka?”. @Udara said, ‘yes’ and we are eagerly awaiting his story to be published :-). I’ve done a video blog sometime back (with poor audio quality, I know!) about our friendly neighbor Coco Veranda’s social media success. Facebook has published this case study, about “Gonuts With Donuts” as one of the best Sri Lankan success stories with Facebook marketing. These are only a few published, Sri Lankan success stories on Social Media. I’m sure that, there are many more SME sector companies like Coco and Gonuts, who are having their own story to tell. Do you have a story? Tell us, we’d love to hear!

Originally posted on Like this blog? Get email updates when I post next time, or subscribe to the feed on a reader. Follow me on Twitter @Amisampath Please help improve the quality of this blog. Report any spelling or grammar mistake here

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