Time + Profit: The Social Media Marketing Challenge

In business, we’ve heard this often enough: time is money. Which means time is profit. Add to that the business demand of sales now and results are everything and you have an immediate challenge for marketing through social media channels. The added challenge is that “speed to results” isn’t just a business demand. It’s reflected in politics today where long-term goals are for the next guy and short-term keeps politicians elected. Even health care systems in Western countries are more “emergency medicine” focused than they on are long-term issues.

This may in part be the reason so many larger brands engage in social media for campaigns, rather than the long haul. And why there is such heated and ongoing debate over metrics in social media engagement. Rarely do corporately driven efforts in social media pay off quickly. The return rather, is more “soft” for the most part and about a dialogue that is measured over time. Dialogue that develops “reputation” or carries the message over the longer term. Dell dove into Twitter and a year or so later reported $2 Million in revenue via this channel. Not bad, but for a large corporation like Dell, not great either.

Then there’s the whole angle of delivering better customer service through social media channels. Jury still seems to be out over successes versus failure or a viable solution here. Some pundits hailed the business version of the second coming with regard to social media and customer service. It is impossible to truly have a 1:1 engagement with clients on any scale with an enterprise of any significant size – A good blog post addresses this by Beth Harte at the Harte of Marketing.

In a world that is hyper-connected ever driving hyper-fast results, social media engagement is antithetical. Still worth the effort for brand engagement, reputation management and customer service, but companies, our research shows, would be better served by managing their expectation of an immediate return. Social media marketing is true to what marketing is – a strategic part of the revenue process, not tactical sales, or at least very rarely so.

(Author: G. Crouch)