Is There a Social Networking ROI?
Last week, I was with a bunch of business owners discussing their Internet social media efforts. Two of the seven owners were doing something with social networking, yet neither could hang their hat on any revenue generated. Still, discarding social media as a valuable part of your marketing and selling strategy is dangerous.
How do you value your efforts with “in-person” social networking? Industry conferences, Rotary meetings, Chamber of Commerce lunches and BNI networking meetings are examples of in-person social networking. These venues take time and discipline to develop as a revenue generating strategy. It takes commitment, but the effort builds on itself.
I am now a believer that online social networking is critical, but it takes more time than some executives expect. Ask yourself the question, “How do our customers and prospects find people, connect socially, and gather information?” Find the groups you want to get acquainted with and then hang out there.
Below are a few real-life ROI examples of how Survey Advantage has benefited from online social networking. Adapt your approach based on where your customers and prospects hang out.
Where do your customers and prospects ask for advice, find industry specific or regional information to help them run their businesses? Make sure you or a friend is active on that forum.
For us (Survey Advantage), I think this is the most important online social networking effort. Examples include forums for association management, franchisees, printer owners and financial services—verticals we are very active in. Forum members gather knowledge and ask questions about vendors and ways of approaching business problems. We are active on some forums, while others have strict rules about supplier participating.
Rule #1—never sell on a forum. These forums help us run our business as well, and being part of a community helps everyone. Rule #2—never persuade others for your own self interests. Let people get to know you over time.