Over the weekend on Facebook, I posted a video called Social Media ROI Idiocy, by John Heaney. I like John’s pitch (and inflection) and don’t disagree with his argument that SocMe needs to demonstrate some kind of ROI (doesn’t every capitalistic venture?) for enthusiastic buy-in at C-level.
One of the reasons I like Facebook is how linear dialogue is neatly arranged. Anyway, the conversation shifted to 'how was word-of-mouth tracked before social media?' Was it? How? Because word-of-mouth endorsements or denouncements are exactly what's going on here. Just faster and to more people than any point in history. The irony is that anyone who has taken a marketing course anywhere knows that 'word of mouth is the best advertising.' Why? Trust.
I don't trust salespeople. Never did. They're paid to endorse something and then convince me of how great it is. I trust my friends. SocMe means I've got the potential to increase my trusted network on various levels of 'friendship.’ When someone I trust recommends something, I'm more likely to respond favorably. Same holds true for the opposite.
I think most brands have a long way to go in the trust department for them to show any ROI in Social Media. After all, blasting links to coupons is basically treating this medium like traditional advertising. Trust takes time here.
And of course this is only regarding the marketing use of SocMe, which is probably the easiest to track. When it comes to other uses (PR, recruiting, customer service, etc.), the Brand itself is the measure by which people trust it. Which is why effective transition into SocMe for most companies starts way farther up the river, at the source: corporate culture, promise of value and trustworthiness.