Social Media ROI Suffers from a Positioning Problem


I read an article on LinkedIn declaring the social media industry is broken (don’t you love those “x is DEAD” articles?) and felt compelled to respond. Everyone needs to take a deep breath – the industry isn’t dead, the way it positions ROI is wrong. Here’s my response. Agree or disagree – feel free to chime in below.

It sounds like this article is describing organizations that simply don’t yet understand how to best utilize social media. If they’re going to cut budget around it, they most likely haven’t spent their budget properly or their expectations weren’t aligned with a realistic expectation for generating ROI. 

Social media is not about likes and dislikes, number of followers, or any other tactical metric – it’s about a new way of earning trust by directly educating and conversing with your customers and prospects. This extends beyond sales to service – for example, twitter has proven to be an excellent place to solve customer service issues. Customers are more educated than ever before – in a recent a 2012 DemandGen report, an astonishing 79% of buyers do not talk to sales until they’ve completed their own independent research. This self-education is a massive shift and speaks to how important it is to facilitate relevant product/solution knowledge.

Social media – when executed properly – ensures your prospects have the right information to guide them when they’re ready to make their buying decision. If you’re able to “drip” the right information on them, when they’re ready they’ll buy. That may not be today, next week or in 6 months – hence why ROI isn’t cut and dry. There may be some culpability with those who are responsible for implementing it, but I would argue (at least among those cutting budget), the true problem lies with executives who fail to understand its value.

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