Conversation is not ROI

January 22, 2010  |   Business,Marketing   |   Jameson  |   0 Comment
Conversation is not ROI

In the early days of social media, the catch phrase was “join the conversation.” No matter what happened, join the conversation was the catch-all answer. Is it too soon to refer to it as “so last decade”? No?

Your Web site is boring? join the conversation

Your sales team isn’t closing deals? join the conversation

Online review sites are tearing apart your product? join the conversation

Is your competitor eating your lunch? join the conversation!

But the truth is that “joining the conversation” has no direct influence on ROI. All it means is that you are showing up to the party and you are left to yourself thinking, “okay, I’m here… now what?” Just because you show up, doesn’t guarantee that you will be welcomed or that you even have anything valuable to share. Conversation is just one small piece of the puzzle, and sometimes does more harm than good. What is not said enough is that sometimes sitting back and watching the conversation play out without you is the best social media strategy.  Inactivity is a tough pill for social media consultants to swallow, especially when they charge by the hour and not program success.

For example, let’s compare it to SEO. If you have a killer Google Pagerank and are pulling in tons of traffic, but visitors are left confused, disappointed and wondering how they ended up getting to your site and immediately leave, you have accomplished nothing. The truth is that a huge portion of your traffic is junk. There are no conversions, there is no ROI.

Now, I am not saying that social media engagement and online conversations can’t deliver true ROI, but not likely to do so on their own. Is the organic search traffic you get attracting the right audience? Does your sales team really understand what customer prospects are looking for? Does your product fail to deliver on its promises? Are your competitors out innovating you? These are all questions that can be answered by simple listening to social media streams, without conversation.

The next time your social media/PR agency drops the join the conversation bomb, challenge them. Force them to tie the strategy that they are recommending back to ROI and answer the big “and then what?” question.

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