Monday, December 01, 2008
Being a farmer versus beating a dead horse
As always, there seems to be a lot of talk about defining the ROI of social media. And I think Jason Falls has one of the better posts I've seen on the subject, along with an excellent video interview with the always amazing KD Paine.
But as I saw what seemed like the millionth post about defining the ROI of social media today, I realized that most of this talk seems to be coming from marketing and social media bloggers and consultants. In fact, in taxing my limited memory, I cannot recall a single instance where I spoke with a potential client, or a business marketer/owner at a conference, and they asked me about defining or proving the ROI for social media.
Instead, they wanted to learn how these social tools might WORK FOR THEM. They want to hear about the benefits of blogging, they want to understand if Facebook is really worth their time. They keep hearing about Twitter but think it all sounds like mindless chit-chat, and want to know if they are right.
IOW, they want to learn. They want us to teach them.
And I think that we are doing a bit of a dis-service to ourselves, and this space by continually harping on the ROI of social media. Why do we need to define this? Is it because the potential clients we talk to demand to know, or is it because we feel a need to vindicate our beliefs and theories about social media?
I think it's more about the latter, and I will admit that I am as bad about this as anyone. But I think in order to TRULY advance this space, and to advance the potential that companies have to better connect with and understand their customers via social media, we need to focus more on TEACHING, not on being 'proven right'.
So my call for today is to stop worrying about trying to 'prove' the worth of social media to those that 'don't get it', and let's start teaching to those that WANT to learn about social media.
Pic via Flickr user Hellsgeriatric