Image by jtyerse via FlickrBefore Arik departed for turquoise waters, he posted “Is Social Media Really About Me?” Consensus from comments to that post in my rough observation revolved around sharing, collaboration and making connections. We can all agree that some ego is likely involved. Right?
For me, it is affirming when I get retweeted, @replies, or blog comments. It feels great to think that a post I have written compels someone to take time to respond – even in disagreement. I like feeling the connection. I am uplifted by feeling I participated in a conversation that taught me and others something new.
Unfortunately, most businesses need to believe something more valuable than an ego boost or “good collaboration” is on the other side of a journey into social media participation. The famous ROI question keeps getting raised one way or another. I usually run in to this question from business leaders who are still trying to understand online social spaces and their place, if any, within the operations of their organization. I heard it this week:
“How do we monetize Twitter?”
“How can we make money using social media? Nobody seems able to answer that.”
This feels like one of the most frequent questions asked with the widest range of answers. What is the ROI in social media? To me, the answer is in the verbiage. “How can we make money USING social media?” “Using” needs to be replaced with “participating.”
Businesses have used mass media. They use accountants. They use raw materials. Social media is not for use. It is for participation. Commerce, as a motivation for community, can easily lead to contrived interaction, superficial relationships and limited desire for customers and employees to engage.
I am driven to explain to these organization leaders that authentic/human participation in social media leads to real relationships, passionate employees, and engaged customers. Lack of participation, strategy, and tactics lead to issues like the recent Domino's debacle on YouTube or a loss of connection with the millions of consumers/employees who have come to expect a more personal relationship with brands.
In which camp do you fall? Should social media participation and engagement be measured against expenses and sales? Are you one that believes social media can be statistically judged?
Or are you of the belief that participation is about relationships, connections, collaboration, and sharing?
Can it be both?
Thanks you, Arik, for inviting me to guest post. It is an honor to try and fill in for you. I hope your readers enjoy the post. Cheers, All. @camgross