Even if you spend hours, weeks and months on the developing the “perfect” marketing plan it still can fail.  Why ?  Because you don’t treat your employees better than you treat your customers and over time they have become disengaged.   Employee engagement may seem like a frill in a downturn economy. But it can make a big difference in a company’s survival.  Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, or their work quality suffers and your customers suffer.

Earlier last week I was contacted by a large consumer products company with a problem.  It seems they had hired “a social media expert” to help them develop and launch their social media marketing but now that ship was adrift and was getting pounded by the rocks under the waves.  Not only was it poorly executed but what they had done so far was costing them business. Their social media “expert” was hit and run.  He told them what to do but not how to do it within THEIR culture and industry.

It seems that every social media expert is evaluating social media marketing, especially on facebook.   While social media marketing is currently “old news” to a lot of brands there are still a big percentage who are trying to determine just how much time and budget dollars should be allocated to this channel.  However, remember that social media marketing is not easy and in all likelihood you’re not going to get it right the first or even second time.  At its core social media marketing is new approach to marketing “customer centric” instead of organization centric.  It doesn’t mean marketers need to give up control of their marketing it just means that one marketing message is not going to resonate with everyone out there and that you need to fight for every customer and listen to what they have to say.

Excuse me ?  Social media is a conversation and you’re supposed to listen and respond to consumers in Internet time not when you have approval or can get responses cleared by your legal people.   The telecommunications and airline sectors had the highest rates of answered wall posts, but even those were woefully low, at 26 percent and 28 percent, respectively.  Socialbakers believes the response rate to wall posts should be 65 percent –75 percent — a mark not even remotely approached.   Information in social media spreads extremely fast, and that really is a game changing thing, even for the internet and brands that don’t respond to wall posts are letting others take over their brands message.

By far the biggest challenge for most brands and marketers is “what exactly is social media doing for our brand & business objectives ?”   Executives want clear examples of ROI not vanity metrics such as the number of people who “Like” our brand or follow our brand via a Twitter feed.   Here are some ways to measure social media with results that matter.

What are the key lessons that are continually being reinforced via new stories on the Web ?  Well first we are seeing the shine come off the social media hype train as marketers look at new digital platforms and geting back to basics like ensuring their products are promoted at retail.  It seems that a lot of brands believed social media was THE answer to their problems but in reality it’s another piece of the puzzle for a great integrated marketing strategy.  Here are 10 things that every marketer should know by now…