It’s not free and its not easy.
Of course, the platforms are free and it doesn’t take much to sign up to LinkedIn or friendfeed. You’ll get a few ‘friends’ and a few ‘follows’ without much initial effort. It all seems so easy.
And then, of course, there is the inevitable discussion about ROI. People talk about finding the ultimate measure of ROI in social media, because we all know by now that Dell achieved $6.5 in sales through Twitter alone, and Ford have make excellent ground and so forth. However, what a lot people fail to remember is that both Dell and Ford have experienced huge failures in social media in the past. It’s taken them years to get to where they are now. In short, it’s not the return, it’s the investment.
Personally, I think businesses need to forget, at least in the short term, about the return they hope to achieve from social media, and instead focus on the investment required to make any social media activity a success. I am currently rolling out a social media strategy in the ‘change management’ space. This is a new approach to my client and as such all I will be doing for the next two months is simply listening.In the words of Chris Brogan, I will be ‘growing bigger ears.” And yes, GoogleReader, google alerts, and the excellent addictomatic, are free, but it’s going to take a huge amount of time to distill all the information into a meaningful analysis of, for example, the key bloggers and trust agents within the Change Management world.
This sentiment was in part echoed by BSkyB’s Maz Nadjm (@mazi) and by Fresh Networks’ Charlie Osmond (@cosmond) at yesterday’s Likeminds conference as part of a panel discussion on the key components of a social strategy. Maz stated that it has “taken (BSkyB) years to get to where we are now…and has involved a huge amount of internal education and communication”. These things do not happen overnight. Charlie Osmond at FreshNetworks, reiterated Maz’s point by stating that “it took manufacturers years to get to grips with Just In Time processes, and some are still struggling. The same can be said for social. BSkyB are ahead of the curve but for many companies it will take years and and even then may not crack it.”
Social media takes time. Be appreciative of the resource, and not necessarily financial, that will be required to become ‘social’, or at least be able to identify the communities you wish to be engaging with. Anyone can sign up to a social platform and claim they are engaging, but very few can demonstrate that they have invested properly at the front end, so that they know who they are engaging with.