A well established notion about social media is that it takes time. No argument there, but I think organizations misunderstand the type of time investment required to build tangible business results.
Many companies still view social media as a series of linear, tactical exercises. Step 1, get on Twitter. Step 2, tweet. Step 3, cash checks. To use a gardening analogy, they plant a seed, wait and expect to bear the fruit.
The root structure of a successful social media initiative can be pretty complex – it’s not solely constructed in the time it takes to set up your social networks and follow a series of predetermined best practices. There are nuances to growing your business using social media that can be difficult to map out or quantify. Things like learning to BE social, understanding your audiences, having micro-inetractions, building relationships, integrating online with offline, etc. all require an investment in time and energy.
To illustrate, I’d like to share one example of the social media timeline that led to a client for my own management practice to realize a new customer. You’ll see that it took some time and was not very linear.
As you can see, the process from making the commitment to Twitter to building the business value (in the form of a new client) took months, and did not follow a particularly straightforward path. Without investing the time and energy to make new connections and pursue opportunities, the scenario wouldn’t have unfolded as it did.
Do you think many organizations, big or small, really understand the type of time investment required for social media? Is it difficult for leaders to embrace the complexity of social media and see the return on time invested? In most cases to date, the answer is clearly no.
However industry reports show that more and more businesses are beginning to grasp the time needed to see a significant ROI.
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