When pitching the importance of social media presence to a company nine times out of ten the first response you’re going to get is, “what’s the ROI on this and how can we properly measure it?” These questions almost always come from executives who are all about the bottom line and are used to making decisions where Action A plus Action B results in X (usually X equals $).
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, that’s what has made them successful business people. In the past there’s been no better way to prove your worth to a company than by becoming a big earner.
There’s no doubt that still holds true but as we see the seemingly unstoppable growth of social media and the ever increasing role it’s taking on in the lives of everyday people, not just technophiles, we are also seeing a dramatic change in how people make decisions on what products to buy and what companies are worth their loyalty.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Quora or even Google, not to mention sites dedicated to such topics like Consumerist, consumers have a plethora of information at their fingertips, not only about what a company offers but how they treat their customers, how they respond to customer issues even what effect the company has on the local economy and the environment.
What do all of these sources have in common? They’re powered by word of mouth. Numerous studies have shown that getting a recommendation from a friend of even reading one from a trusted community of people is far more likely to either convince a person to buy a product or, if the feedback is negative, to stay as far away as possible.
Many companies are concerned only with the how they can use social media to drive more traffic back to their own website. That sort of thinking is akin to buying the latest, greatest computer and using it as a word processor or buying a new car just to park it in your driveway just to use the cup holders. People who use social media have good bullshit radar and if this is the only thing you’re using your social media presence for you’ll find that your updates will quickly go the way of banner ads and people will either stop following you or become “blind” to your posts.
The true power of social media lies in being able to connect with your customers, to put a face on your business that makes the people who are buying your product feel like they’re not just a statistic.
I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t measure the ROI of their social media strategies, but much of what you can accomplish with social media isn’t necessarily a tangible, measurable statistic. It’s far more than that and once your company embraces that philosophy you’ll quickly begin to see the results fall into place.