Buddy Media and Luma Partners infographic on digital marketing complexity (courtesy Business Insider - click through to see the post)There’s a lot of buzz about the infographic to the left that shows many of the different social media marketing-related tools and services that have sprung up in the last few years.

Note:  it is missing Pinterest and Foodspotting, and possibly others.

Some say that the image demonstrates how “insane” and “ludicrously complex” it is to be a marketer these days.

I say that it’s not much different from the horrified squawking we heard when Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas created the original big, scary social media Conversation Prism infographic in August 2008.

To see the big picture in all this, stick with the forest and not the trees. That infographic is a bunch of trees.

Focus on the Fundamentals

Yes, there are a lot more moving parts in the communications world today beyond print, TV and radio, but that does not change the fundamental questions and actions for destination marketing or ANY sort of marketing, which are….

“Where is my market spending its time, and how are they making decisions about travel [or whatever is your focus]?” and then making sure you are both present where they are, and visible as an option in their decision-making process.

That is not new, but the speed with which you must flex to emerging communications platforms is new; the rapid growth of Pinterest and social mobile photography sharing like Instagram and Foodspotting are cases in point.

Don’t let new toys distract you from keeping your eye on the ball, however.

I hardly spend any time on Google+, for example, (in fact I think Google+ will fail) because my market is not there. Further, Google has a crummy track record with social, and their corporate DNA hasn’t changed since Buzz, Wave, Sidewiki, Knol, etc. all bombed.

What IS Google good at? Search.

I’ve acknowledged that current reality by thoroughly filling out both personal and business profiles on G+ purely for SEO purposes, and occasionally I post something on G+ just for drill. I will not let myself get sidetracked fiddling with something that is useless to my work.

Social Media Complexity & the ROI Bugaboo

Another response I heard about the graphic: “This shows why ROI is hard to prove.” Hmmm, not really.

The standard ROI mathematical formula has not changed; it is still Investment Gains minus Cost of Investment, divided by Cost of Investment.

Whether you use one of the infographic’s tools or all of them, you cannot measure Gains – your investment bringing positive results – or decide whether those results are worth the cost you must pay unless you first establish goals to achieve, and then choose metrics/KPIs to track to see if you’re achieving those goals.

The need to have goals, and metrics to measure progress toward goals, is not changed by some scary-looking pile of social media tools and platforms.

And no;  raw numbers of Facebook Page or Twitter followers do not prove anything except perhaps the ROI of an elementary school education – we can successfully count!  🙂

Sorry, But Suck It Up

It is our J-O-B job to stay up to speed in our profession.  To do that for social media, find scouts and mentors who can alert you to potentially important developments, track of-the-moment info via conference and chat Twitter hashtags and go where the geeks are both online and offline to keep up.

If you looked at the infographic above and hardly recognized any of the services, that means you need a better way to stay plugged in to social communications developments, because there aren’t many surprises up there.

Sorry to sound harsh, but there it is.

None of us know everything….it’s the ones who know what they don’t know, and then hustle to intelligently keep filling those knowledge gaps, who will succeed in our complex world.

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