It’s a question that’s being asked much less of now than a few years ago; and the debates have evolved over time from ‘what’s the value of social media?’ to ‘how do we best quantify this value?’
There are of course, a host of other hotly debated topics within the realm of social media marketing – does it make sense for your business to be platform led (reach) or content led (engagement)? Who should be at the helm of your social efforts? Arguments following this range from flitting dangerously close to ageism to mixed feelings about outsourcing a brand’s voice. And outside of the structural and budgetary considerations (as we all know, build it and they will come does not always apply to the virtual World) there’s the delicate matter of balancing your objectives with your consumers’ interest – the magical bridge between the astounding audience on social media, and a conversation that adds value to your brand – which also happens to resonate with your audience.
Let’s also not forget that social media can be somewhat of a dystopia – with eyeballs come blinkers; in the case of Facebook: the right hand side ad column. Every few weeks another round of Digital doomsdayers predicting the rise and fall of social platforms; after-all the law of diminishing returns still applies in most other cases (save maybe Google and Apple). The next big thing can come along any day and usurp all our efforts and fragment our audience on the many platforms we’re already playing in.
Frankly, I think this completely misses the point.
A social web ENABLED virality. It’s not just a platform change that gave us the rather terribly dubbed ‘web 2.0’. It’s a behavioural shift that came to be well before Mark Zuckerburg ever entered Harvard, or Myspace Tom was everybody’s first friend. We’ve come a long way from the wail of the dial-up modem, pop-up ads, to the worrying overpopulation of the Trolls of today, (of course my spam inbox’s wish that I become a well endowed millionaire, by the grace of a Nigerian prince, with a green card has remained unchanged) there’s a human layer that’s been growing on the web for years and with it, a conversation happening about virtually everything.
Personally, these are the conversations that influence everything from the products I buy, to the services I use, the place I go, and the things I do. And now brands have a voice too – and we’re all in the same playground or supermarket, whichever way you look at it.
These are the conversations happening, whether or not you are a part of them.
This should not scare marketers. If your product, content, or service is that good – you have the opportunity to lose the gimmick and focus on the product. If there’s room for improvement, you will know – hard and fast – and there will be plenty of people that will tell you.
The term ‘social currency’ gets thrown around a lot. But this is not anything new. So going back to the ROI of social media? I decided to flip it on its head, using myself as a guinea pig. Take a look at what I put together below. These are brands and services that I have advocated on public forums and social media platforms over the past five years. ALL of them have led to a direct action – ranging from a clickthrough, to an enquiry to a sale.
And to end, a pretty cool video that’s been going around this week. Prophetic 5th graders about the internet – circa 1995: