I recently read an article that said the return on investment (ROI) for social media is very small if there is one at all. The article suggested that the better uses of your marketing dollars would be spent on search engine optimization (SEO). I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, which on the surface may seem to be in conflict with my profession.
The truth is that social media is only a tool in so much as you erase the business-to-consumer relationship and replace it with a human-to-human relationship. If you continue to market to people using social media you will eventually alienate them. If you are going to create some value with social media you have to create a community and relationships that go deeper and more intimate than customer and order-taker.
Creating that community for most companies means learning how to speak like a person rather than a business. Everyday we wake up get ready to go to work and then after our first coffee (or in my case sugary sweet cereal) we shake off all vestiges of our human self and replace it with our business self. Our conversations and interactions with coworkers, vendors, and customers are all tainted by the overarching understanding that we are in business and that means I am not being myself. The exceptions to this rule are obvious. They are the relationships that we care about outside of the 9-5. There’s the FedEx guy who follows the same football team, or the customer you’ve worked with for 20 years, or the employee that you invite to your birthday party. These relationships exist on something other than business. Those relationships are the type of relationships that you develop using social media. This is the core group of people that you engage with every post, tweet, like, +1, or pin.
The return on this type of social media is more than just an ROI in some financial report. The return is loyalty, friendship, and when you’re in need, a network of salespeople that is more convincing than any marketing you could have ever paid. Social Media Marketing is something that defiles and degrades the very premise of social media. Avoid it as though you’d avoid a Zombie in Southbeach.