3 Reasons the “ROI of Social Media” Debate Continues

After years of case studies showing social media’s power to connect people (customers, partners, and employees), you would think the debate would be settled.

It’s not.

In fact, it’s just beginning in some companies…now in a new way.

While nearly everyone is probably willing to admit there is some value to social media and that “it works”, a new question is arising.

Exactly how much is it worth?

This video parodies what’s going on in some companies as the new year begins.

How do situations like this happen?

Sometimes decision makers are not educated enough on what they were buying, had their expectations set too high, or don’t have patience to see it through.  It might even be a combination of all three.

Here are three big reasons why leaders are beginning a new round of debates about the value of social media in the marketing mix:

1) Poor Education


Leaders are not being educated on what they are buying, how long it will take, or what it actually does.

Sometimes, overzealous marketing leaders used the “Everyone’s Doing It” pitch and got approval without explaining that social media is a new kind of war, not a single battle.

2) Wrong Expectations

Have you heard or said things like:

  • “Social media is free advertising!”
  • “Social media will make sales explode!”
  • “Let’s make it go viral!”
  • “We won’t have to spend money on other expensive marketing routes.”

In reality, using social media is only one part of building a modern business.  Setting expectations too high, too fast, or too easy makes for trouble.

3) Lack of Patience

Some leaders have been properly educated with correct expectations, but just don’t have the patience.  Their ADHD leadership tendencies make them lose focus or patience and they withdraw support so they can focus on their next great strategy.

 

Social media is not a strategy.  It is a method of communicating.

Communication can be good.  Communication can be bad.  However, for most industries there is no way to calculate return on investment of communication.

It is everything.

If you choose to do social media poorly, you are choosing to do business poorly.

Don’t stop something you’ve started because you’re impatient or afraid.  This social media stuff isn’t going away and your competitors are only spending more time and money each quarter on finding ways to connect with your clients.  Ignore it for too long, and your clients may begin to ignore you too.

Finish the debate tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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+1 Reason Why Leaders Need to Join Google+ Now

This is a different take on why Google+ matters.

To me, it’s not about the features, Facebook, or anything else out there.  It’s about you.

Since my initial Google+ introduction and invitation on Wednesday, I’ve been researching, discussing, and thinking about how it can be utilized by businesses and leaders.  My goal was to write a definitive post on why Google+ matters and why my fellow 8pm Warriors should get on it. Google Plus Logo

Unfortunately, the more I researched, the more I realized it wasn’t the features that mattered.  There was a bigger reason to join…

There are many “Top Reasons to Try Google+” lists out there already, but given that both Facebook and Google have plans to continue changing things (Facebook adds Skype next week), these lists will be obsolete in a couple months, if not weeks.

For me, there is only one simple reason that you as a leader need to join Google+ and it goes to the heart of leadership itself:

Leaders must lead, not follow.

When there is a new frontier and a new opportunity to be a pioneer, leaders must lead.  They cannot wait for the rest of the world to decide if something is successful or not, they must beat the gold rush.  Being a first mover matters.  Slow leaders aren’t leaders at all in a modern era…they are followers.

I’m going to explain myself below.  However, if you’re still trying to figure out if Facebook is a fad, I don’t recommend reading any further.  I will be wasting your time.

Instead, I recommend reading this first:  Time for Sleeping Leaders to Awake

If you haven’t clicked off yet, I’ll assume you agree that the world has changed and social media isn’t a fad, but rather a fundamental and permanent shift in the way much of the world relates to the people and brands in their life.

I’m confident that social media isn’t going away, and neither is Google+.

Here’s why Google+ is here to stay:

I know that Google has screwed up several new attempts at social networking in the past (i.e. Buzz, Wave, Health, etc.), but this time it will be different.  If there is one thing that I’ve learned during my time reviewing the site and testing the features, it’s that they’ve finally figured out a way to bring all of their pieces of the social puzzle together.  Even though they aren’t all fully functional (i.e. Youtube for video and Picasa for pictures), it’s all but certain they will be soon.

Also, it’s going to be an effective alternative to Facebook.  Too many people dislike Facebook for whatever reason, and too many of us already use most of the pieces of the Google+ package (YouTube, Gmail, Picasa, Android, Google News, Google Chat, etc.).

Since we’re using most of it anyway, especially if you have an Android phone, it’ll be smart and easy to bring it all together into one social package, even if it isn’t your primary network.  That’s why Google+ will survive and may thrive.

You’re already using it!

Looking for more reasons why it’s a safe bet?  Read more here

Leaders need to try Google+ sooner, not later:

Let me start with my Facebook story.

Remember when most people thought Facebook was just a college kid thing?

I joined Facebook right when it opened to non-college students and immediately began building a network of healthcare people as part of the Clear Medical Network initiative.  Our goal was to prepare for a world of severe medical personnel shortages.

With that first-mover advantage, our team was able to build communities that served over 43,000 segmented groups of people.  Not only is that an asset for the future, but it helped us weather the job market crisis better than most of our competitors who are no longer in business.

Leaders starting now are way behind.  It’s so hard to build Facebook page communities now without expensive giveaways and advertising.  It’s a mature platform.

At the beginning, all it cost us was time.  Now with valuation of $100 per person, the network may be worth over $4,000,000 and growing as the demand for nurses and doctors moves towards a critical point.  All with no giveaways or advertising.

Why?  Because we were pioneers.

Lessons from the Pioneers

There are some things we can all learn from early adopters of tools like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+

New platforms are like frontiers.  There are risks, hazards, a journey, and rewards.

Interactions with pioneers are closer, more intimate.  It’s easier to make meaningful connections as most early adopters help each other discover the new world.

Consequently, early adopters have the advantage of forming larger and tighter groups of people.  If you are in a people business, this is something you need to be thinking about.

Where’s the Return on Investment?

Assuming you’ve agreed with me up to this point, you are still probably wondering where does the return on investment come from if you’re not in the business of social media specifically.

Here is where I see the ROI:

Brand pages are coming soon (think Facebook pages)

We all know how valuable they are to a business now.  This will be similar.  The sooner you get on, the better.  I guarantee your competitors will be there.  I will.

It will help with Social Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Part of Google+ includes a social bookmarking module that tracks the use of the new Google +1 social search system.  I believe that it will encourage users to use the +1 system and that future upgrades of Google+ will tie this feature in with the business pages.  If you learn the system now, you’ll be in a much stronger position to benefit from these SEO benefits as they arrive.

Good old fashion networking

I think it’s safe to assume that there is a certain ROI in simply expanding one’s network and ability to reach new people.  This is a new tool for that.

Final Notes:

I’ve tried almost every social network out there, including Google’s other social platform called Orkut, and my gut is telling me this has real staying power.  Of course I could be wrong, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to follow my gut.

Nevertheless, this is a new frontier and I feel like a pioneer.

Join me.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert
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