I was nodding my head enthusiastically as I was reading Seth Godin’s simple yet brilliant observation that companies have a hard time with social media because it’s a lengthy process rather than a short, well-defined event.
No doubt, events are easier to manage because the time lapse between the event (a conference) and the results (we got X leads in our database following that conference) is short and so ROI is easy to measure.
Processes take time, and as Mr. Godin observes, they build results for the long haul. It’s harder to measure ROI for social media because you do it for many months before it starts to pay off. How can you quantify that? How can you convince corporate executives or small business owners that slowly building relationships with their audience, gradually getting the message out there about their product or service and joining conversations and dialogues in their space will eventually translate into more sales?
But it will, and it does. Social media, a new form of marketing that engages potential customers in direct conversations, is a long-term investment. You won’t see results right away – that is, if you want real results. If you’re after “more Twitter followers,” well that’s easy – but worthless. Instead, what you want is to build relationships. This takes time and is thoroughly unexciting, but it works – as a long term marketing strategy.