I wanted to close this week by referencing a post written by uber-marketer Seth Godin titled "The distraction, the tail and the dog" in which he outlines the core of what makes a business run, "making sales, delivering on promises, overcoming the Dip and shipping." There's really nothing sexy about any of that. In fact, it's very hard work.
In a related post, Seth points a finger at folks like me, people who pride ourselves on being social media hipsters and early adopters:
"Yes, I know you're a master of the web, that you've visited every website written in English, that you've been going to SXSW for ten years, that you were one of the first bloggers, you used Foursquare before it was cool and you can code in HTML in your sleep. Yes, I know that you sit in the back of the room tweeting clever ripostes when speakers are up front failing on a panel and that you had a LOLcat published before they stopped being funny."
Sound familiar? I know I "resemble" those remarks.
Seth then asks a very poignant question: "But what have you shipped?" (Ouch!)
If we social media gurus, experts, consultants (or whatever self-appointed shingle we hang above our door) have a failing, it's this: oft-times we fail to understand that social media is not an end unto itself, but a channel through which we achieve business objectives.
It's the tail wagging the dog. We create a Facebook Fan Page without first determining whether it serves the end of driving traffic to the company Web site or becomes a destination itself, potentially siphoning off traffic that would otherwise go to the Web site.
We engage in endless hours of Twitter conversations, all the while lulling ourselves into the belief that the exercise will somehow pay dividends. (Sometime it does, which reinforces the belief, but often not enough to justify the expense.)
I am coming around to the realization that social media, as much as I love it, cannot exist only to serve itself. There has to be quantifiable ROI. At the same time, I realize that you cannot always place a value on relationships, and to do so would be to prostitute the very customers you are attempting to reach.
A balance can be struck, one that places priority on the use of social media as an aligned channel that supports strategic business objectives, yet which, at the same time, places value on building personal, one-on-one relationships with customers. There can be an integration of "conversation + conversion."
That's the goal each of us social-media-early-adopters-turned-marketing-consultants should strive to achieve, don't you agree?