What to Expect from Social Media? Ask Mr. Carnegie

social_media_expectationsThe Social Media Examiner recently published a post, 7 Social Media Truths You Can Ignore and still be Successful. In it, Rich Brooks deftly points out that Claim #1: Social Media Has Changed Everything is nothing more than hooey.

I thought I was the last one with a copy of Dale Carnegie’s seminal How to Win Friends and Influence People on my shelf, but apparently, Rich has one too. He reminds us that anyone who feels disappointed with their Twitter ROI is well to be reminded that Twitter is just social network—just like the one Dale cultivated way back in the 1930s—and that it’s purpose is to win friends and influence people, not change everything. Granted, online social networks operate at lightening speed. But fundamentally, what we call social media—Twitter, Facebook, forums, user groups and review sites—are just plain old social networks that happen to live online.

So what can we learn from the original social-networking-for-business thought leader? Carnegie’s theory about friends and influence is that if you concentrate first and foremost on their cultivation (as opposed to lead gen), the revenue will follow. He posits that the cultivation of friends and influence is a subtle art form unto itself. That although social networking for business is principally a business venture, to work properly it should be practiced outside the sales environment and operate according to social principles, not selling principles.

Of course, in today’s marketing arena, our executives demand much more than our testimony that, “it sure feels like the increase in business has something to do with my networking efforts.” Fortunately, digital marketing is nothing if not accountable and there are quite a few ways to skin the social media ROI cat.

Keeping a running tally of friends and influencers is one of them. Showing that you have increased both is another. The point being that social media has its own benefits and should have its own set of metrics which may or may not include customer acquisition and probably shouldn’t include setting the world on fire.

Social media is expedient, addressable and accountable, not game-changing. Social networking technology enables opportunity. We create it with smart social networking practices—Mr. Carnegie’s are especially recommended.

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