How is success in Social Media defined? Is it an input-equals-output argument? Can expenditures by companies in this area be justified? With so many individuals and corporations unable to attach logic to the concept, let alone the possibility of payoff, how does the use of the Social Media translate into black ink on the balance sheet? These are the questions imposed on businesses that seek to advance and flourish in the Internet Age.
Still in its tip-of-the-iceberg stage, Social Media has reprioritized the global modus operandi. It is not a substitute for face-to-face exchange; nor should it be. But this current technology has outpaced the traditional business metric and, ideally, augments what we can achieve in the tangible world. We have moved into the “relationship culture,” or what some have called the “relationship economy.” Traditional marketing has reached an impasse. The strategic focus has shifted. Suddenly, creativity counts. The ability to connect with people is going to drive long-term viability in business. Today, companies must effectively engage and communicate with customers at every conceivable touchpoint. Therefore, success in the Social Media space hinges on the ability to cultivate, nurture and cement that connection. The machinery is in place.
Although resistance to this new science is lessening, there remains a palpable sense of uncertainty and skepticism as to how this translates to the bottom line. The common lament from the ivory tower crowd is that success in Social Media cannot be quantified. Not enough longevity. No longitudinal studies in the literature. How does one track the efficacy of a Social Media campaign anyway? ROI can best be measured as ROT-
where T (time investment on the sites) replaces I (financial investment). If the results of this time commitment ostensibly ignite a dormant sales cycle, turn a cold call into a warm lead, or can pique the interest of new customer clusters, then, arguably, it meets some criteria for success. Tally the calls to action, isolate the emerging trends and monitor the yield on an ongoing basis and a model for prosperity can be established.
Social Media is no myth. The discussions have moved beyond a perceived potential and into “what comes next?” territory. The value proposition is immense. These digital platforms are the greatest catalyst of branding we have and, when used diligently and correctly, can create untold exposure and opportunity for individuals, companies and their enterprises. The activity, which carries with it a learning curve, propagates the brand with great efficiency and economy, accessorizing the message and heightening its credibility. Marketing research objectives, that traditionally burdened a firm’s resources, can be realized and evaluated with great ease. Those who think that the impact of Social Media is overhyped are either not using it or not using it correctly. One need not be illuminati to participate in this paradigm shift but, rather, receptive to the right brain thinking that is fueling it.