Social Media: The Paradox of Choice

By Erik Qualman

“What is the ROI of Social Media?  We’ve faced these questions before, but with different semantics:  “What is the ROI of e-mail?” “What is the ROI of Paid Search?” “What is the ROI of SEO?”

“With social media it’s not a choice whether you DO social media, the choice is how well you DO it.” – Erik Qualman

History repeats itself because nobody listens the first time.  This is only part of the dilemma companies are facing with social media.  The other dilemma is that it’s different from e-mail, paid search, SEO , television advertising, radio advertising, etc.  The difference being with all of those other mediums, the company/church/organization/entity/etc.  had a choice of how much or how little they would engage within these different arenas.  Whether social media paradoxyou are a Fortune 500 company or a church, with social media it’s not a choice whether you do social media, the choice is how well you do it.

Hence when people ask the ROI of social media…the ROI is that you will still exist in 3 years.  The choice is up to you.

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12 responses to “Social Media: The Paradox of Choice

  1. Marketing in a social media world has opened up so many avenues that there is no excuse for poor marketing and and having a poor ROI. SM networks offer the chance to market to target audiences and tailor campaigns to match each group.

    You should take a moment to listen to what some social media experts are saying about the advantages and potential of social media marketing.

  2. Thomas R Smith

    I realize this is a short article and therefore hasn’t explored the topic in too much depth, but let’s face it, most business or churches will not master SM in the next three years and most will still be in business. Some, but very few, businesses will thrive because of SM. Most will just fumble their way through.

    Having followers, friends and links does not mean you have a relationship. It might be the first step, but many will not take the next step.

    If you do not consider the metrics around SM, ROI included, you are wasting your time and the time of your customers. If SM doesn’t create measurable value, it doesn’t have value.

    I do believe most SM does have some value, so I am not a naysayer on the topic; the challenge will be to quantify it. That is where carefully planning and execution will separate the winners in SM from those that are doing it because they think they need to to survive – that’s is an over-simplistic and ultimately inadequate reason to get into SM.

  3. Social media is another tool in the toolbox and all tools are effective based on how well you use them.

    Keeping track of where sales leads come for ALL medium/tools still remains, as well continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of the medium and learning how to use it/do it better.

    Social media forces us to be better communicators with customers and that’s one powerful tool!

  4. Interesting point on the ROI of email; nobody considers that because it’s just understood that it’s something you need to do business. Businesses will realize (eventually) that social media efforts fall into the same category. And I agree that the ultimate choice is about how well they do it. It kind of reminds me of traditional customer service efforts; for example, a call center. Businesses have to provide some level of customer service, but it’s not necessarily important to all of them to do it particularly well. (IMO, these are the kinds of companies that are being “exposed” through social media tools because it’s a lot easier to share bad experiences these days.)

  5. I heard it said a while ago that questioning the ROI of social media is akin to questioning the ROI of putting on your pants in the morning…i.e. it’s too important NOT to do it. Enough said!

  6. There is a way to leverage social media and quantify not only its value but also use it to quantify the value of all your marketing channels.

    We’ve created a measurement and analysis methodology that does just that.

    Social Media is not an “end”. Social Media is a “means” to better understand the value of your marketing effort.

  7. The trouble with management in these difficult times is they revert back to short-termism. They’re forced to keep an eye on cashflow rather than invest in long-term strategies. Social media has to be integrated in the business as part of a long-term strategy. It’s not simply a fad that they might consider dabbling with whilst it’s “trendy”. Social media is here to stay.

  8. A question I get asked often and I’m still trying to find the right answer because people want numbers and stats and…..

    Just the other day, I was asked but how do you justify the value? And how well you do it, will give you the value.

    The bottom line is Social Media is all about networking, we are doing it offline. We invest time and money in offline networking. There’s the ROI in my view. Its about how well you build your network and how strong those relationships are and so yes, its in how you do it.

  9. So true! Social media allows you to shoot yourself in the foot if you are not careful in the way you are using it. Be smart, listen, consistent & take part in the conversation!

    • Here! Here! Claude.

    • Thomas R Smith

      I agree. Doing SM poorly is more dangerous to a business that not doing it all. If it is not worth doing well, it is not worth doing. If you are into SM halfheartedly because you think it’s like putting your pants on, you are being lazy. I could easily put on parachute pants, a la MC Hammer, and go to a major client meeting, but that would be not better than going in my underwear.

      Like Claude said – BE SMART, or look foolish.

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