Friday, May 17, 2013

The Fallacy of Social Media ROI

Return on investment, getting one’s money worth, making it “worth it.” We seldom do things with absolutely no thought of a benefit for ourselves, either immediately or somewhere down the road.  Not only does this hold true for us in our personal lives,  it’s ESPECIALLY true in world of business where EVERYTHING is measured in terms of profit and loss.

I’m a businessman… I get that.

I’ve got to say though (those who have listened to my radio show “Socially Business with Tony Gates” on or heard me speak know this) that what really makes me crazy (a term I stole from my Pfizer Regional Manager Mike Kraft, another amazing leader) is the fact that so many people look to social media as a typical bringer of ROI. IT’S NOT!!  
If you’re looking for immediate and traditional ROI with social media, look elsewhere, or get someone to explain how it REALLY works. You simply can’t tweet or create a Facebook business page (no, we don’t say “fan page” anymore, unless you’re a bona-fide celebrity with fans) and post your way to immediate revenue.

I would submit that there are things we as people and as business entities do that aren’t necessarily tied to the immediacy of dollars in the cash register. We do them for good will (charitable donations and sponsorships), we do them to “get our name out there” (naming rights and networking), and we do them because “that’s just what legitimate businesses do.” I mean, no one asks what the ROI of that new, big, nice expensive new oak board room table is, do they?    No… These are things that businesses do that are a part of doing business. Is there eventual ROI? Absolutely!

What about the ROI of your email address?

Think of social media the same way. It’s a NECESSITY for doing business in the 21st century. Poo-poo or ignore it at your and your business’ own peril. Your competition is there. If you’re not, you are automatically and immediately at a disadvantage.  Did you know that Facebook business (or biz) pages are now the #1 way customers interact with businesses now? Did you also know that over 1 million websites have integrated with Facebook?  Did you know that  80% of users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook?
They beat out websites 2 years ago.

THAT’S the business advantage social media provides. You can connect, talk, interact, add to the conversation, and, most importantly, brand yourself and add value with social media. Social media is actually a business multiplier.  That people have to ask about its ROI is an indicator that they’re already way behind the power curve. I feel the same way about businesses restricting employees’ use of social media during business hours as well. If you’re a business who does this, stop! Establishing some guidelines, then allowing your employees access to social media can really be a (you’ve heard this before) multiplier. 

They’re using their smartphones to do it anyway! Let them post and tweet about all the good things your business or organization is doing. It’s like having a sales and PR force out there on your behalf.

That’s the point!

  - Tony