Saturday, 13 February 2016

Social Media: still not engaging? TOUGH LUCK: you no longer have a choice

old man yells at cloud

We've all been there, as social media professionals. You're sat in a meeting, and across the table there's somebody in a suit, looking you up and down like you're a red rag and he's the bull. You finish explaining your social media strategy for the year to them, and generally, people seem quite happy. Except for this dude.

'Any questions?'

Quick as a flash, he asks 'What's the return on investment? What's the ROI of social media?'

This is a direct challenge to you. How do you react?

For years, I'll be honest, I didn't have the best answer. I'd mumble something about engagement, and happiness, and innovation, and hope that I'd done enough to get away with it. Be honest: we've all done that. It's not that our ideas are bad, or not fully-formed, it's just that sometimes we haven't done what our maths teachers used to beg us to do: show our workings. It's okay to have the answer, in fact it's what you're hired for. But if you can't walk people through your answer, you're in trouble. To be a good social media pro, you have to take people with you. To be good in business, you have to take people on the journey with you.

But that doesn't mean you have to take the easy route. When you're challenged on social media, sometimes it's okay to rise to it.

Want to know what the answer is?

'Because you no longer have the choice not to.'

Face facts. Social media, messaging apps, dark social, content marketing - it's here, and it's not going anywhere. We can no longer hold up our hands and say 'our customers aren't on social media'. It's bullshit. They are. Saying that your audience isn't on social media is like saying nobody in Canada owns a toilet. They do - and they're probably sat on it checking Facebook, Snapchat, Medium, Tumblr, Twitter, the full caboodle.

(As a side note, I'd love to know how much the sales of toilet books have dropped since the advent of the smartphone - I bet they've gone down the shitter, so to speak.)

So, what you should be asking, and what the guy who challenged you should be asking is: what do my customers want on social media? How can I give them a return on their investment they've made by following us? How can I create content that benefits them?

You have no choice but to take an active part in these platforms. You do have a choice in how you approach it - and it shouldn't be self-centred. But you no longer have the choice on whether you can engage.

If the first thing you think when it comes to social media for your business is 'what's in it for me?' You're doing it wrong. But if you're reading this article, it's not too late. I implore you: don't be the dude in the meeting asking what the ROI is on social media activity. Ask how the strategy is going to work - ask about the platforms being used. Challenge, by all means. But bear in mind that the time has passed for asking about the ROI of social media for us it. We should be asking what the ROI of our social media activity is for our audience. If you can provide a good enough answer for that, then there's a pretty good chance that things could work out pretty well for you!

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