The REAL Social Media ROI – Risk of Ignoring

It seems everyone’s been talking lately about the Return on Investment – ROI – of social media. On the one hand, we have businesses trying to see where they’ll make a profit; on the other we have social media proponents explaining you shouldn’t try to measure social media ROI the same way you would in normal business practices.

But maybe we’re looking at the wrong ROI to start with – instead of return on investment, perhaps we should be more worried about the Risk of Ignoring.

This can work on both levels, personal and business-led, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to stay with businesses.

(If only from the viewpoint that it seems to be businesses more than individuals that are using social media less effectively).

Say the CEO of Company X brings in his sales or marketing director to the boardroom, and tells them he’s heard wonderful things about this “social media craze”. He’s heard that millions of people are using it, and he wants his company to have a bite of the money that these millions of social media users have, just waiting to be spent.

So the sales or marketing director decides to have a look at social media. Perhaps he’s even on Facebook, so he knows what social media is all about. He’s told his CEO not to worry, Company X will soon be rolling in extra cash from all the wonderful sales to be made through social media marketing.

So the director sets up a Twitter account – after all, just look at the conversation going on there. That’s a surefire sales arena if ever there was one! He starts following people left, right and centre and pretty soon he has a sizable following back. Time to start selling Company X to the masses, thinks the director, and starts sending out Tweets and direct messages about how great Company X is and why people should buy from them NOW.

The director has carried out the legwork and now has his message in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Time to sit back and wait for that Holy Grail of ROI to start. Which it will – just not the one that was expected.

This is where the Risk of Ignoring plays its hand.

By ignoring the simple fact that social media is about conversation, the director has completely missed the point. Instead of building up a loyal and quality-led following, all he’s done is build the equivalent of a non-optional email list for a sales pitch.

Now he’s wondering why so many people are un-following him on Twitter. He’s also wondering why no-one has rushed to Company X’s website and bought anything from their online store. Most of all, he’s wondering what he’s going to tell the CEO at the next progress report meeting.

I see this happening all too often with businesses. While originally there may be good intentions for using social media, trying to use traditional sales or marketing tactics will usually backfire. Whereas CEO’s and sales or marketing directors may be used to success with the heavy-handed “shout at everyone” approach, it’s just not going to work when it comes to social media.

You want your business to enjoy success with social media users? Be social with us. Get to know us, and what interests us, and in return I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have the interest you want in you and your product. Because we are actually interested in what you have to say.

Just don’t ignore us.

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