Your organization's social media initiative is hobbled - potentially even endangered without integration software.

It's nearly impossible for a business of significant size to get the full value of a social media initiative in place without using some sort of Integration software layer.  Integration software is Cloud-based middleware that links disparate applications and data together. 

Why is Social Media only half of the equation when it comes to a social media initiative?

Any social media program worth its weight in salt needs to be tied into the business objectives of the organization - whether that's to increase mindshare, generate website traffic, create leads, improve customer service, whatever.  

But measuring the impact of social media against such business objectives can be challenging - the data are in different places. That's why it's  extraordinarily difficult to measure and analyze the impact of a social media initiative without an integration strategy in place. You can tweet and facebook all you want, but when the C-Suite wants to know what the return on the social media effort is, metrics like "followers, tweets, and likes" don't cut it.  In fact, they could be career-limiting and budget-reducing.

In the absence of real metrics that are tied to business objectives (i.e. objectives that are important to the C-levels), your social media initiative will be dominated by opinions, politics and personalities - and you will lose professional credibility in the process. 

In order to tie social media metrics into things like conversion rates, cost per lead, etc., as well as capture trends, data must be captured, collected and integrated across a number of different systems - and then analyzed, hence the need for an integration strategy and Cloud-based integration software.

From a conceptual/visual perspective, this is depicted in figure 1, below, in a graphic that I've adapted from an webinar given by Birst (Business Intelligence/Analytics), Cervello (BI/Analytics Consulting) and SnapLogic (Cloud-based Integration), which discussed the ROI of Social Media Analytics (on-demand replay available).  Cloud-based Integration Platforms such as SnapLogic or Boomi provide highly capable, easy to use integration capabilities and subscription-based pricing.

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With the demands placed on social media programs by internal customers and the executive suite, it's ever more critical to be able to integrate data across multiple systems to be able to make business decisions on marketing spend - as well as to justify marketing spend. Without a robust integration strategy, your ability to conduct an effective social media program will be severely degraded.