By Patrick McFadden
I have conversations on a daily basis with leaders about marketing and unavoidably this question always comes up, “What is the ROI of social networking?” I get emails from frustrated marketers who want to get more active with social networking, but can’t convince their manager that it’s worth it.
My response to the Return On Investment (ROI) roadblock is this:
“How does your manager measure the ROI of attending local Chamber of Commerce events, participating in Industry Associations, and dropping in on networking luncheons?”
Done correctly, social networking on sites like LinkedIn is really no different – you don’t measure participation based on direct sales, you measure success based on:
- identifying one potential strategic partner,
- acquiring one actionable bit of advice, or
- striking up a conversation or two that may eventually lead to developing a new customer.
That sounds like a set of solid networking objectives doesn’t it?
Of course this thought process assumes that you have identified a set of objectives for your offline networking, which often is not the case. I’ve talked about this time and time again,“marketing without goals is the noise before the failure” and networking is a function of marketing.
But, with all that being said, my primary point here is that you need to align online networking with face-to-face networking and then create a set of objectives and subsequent strategies and tactics to get the most from both. But, job one is to get your mind around social networking as, just that, networking.
Now, with job one out of the way, you’ve also got to tackle something I mentioned earlier –“done correctly, social networking on sites like LinkedIn is really no different” – this is where managers are really coming from when they say there’s no Return On Investment. So many people see social networking as a 24/7, hang out all day excuse for a job – and it can easily become that if you don’t identify and state objectives. On the other hand, you could as easily hang out at every networking event or meetup, join unrelated trade groups, and sponsor the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention club. (which would only be good if you sell pet weight loss services or products)
By identifying and clearly stating your objectives for social network participation (objectives not unlike those of participating in your local Chamber) you can more easily identify the networks that make sense, the type of engagement you need to create, and, most importantly, how much time and energy you can afford to invest to reach your objectives.
When you take a strategic approach to all forms of networking the Return On Investment allusion becomes much clearer.
About Patrick : Patrick McFadden is a Cause & Effective Associate and the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing. He helps organisations create marketing action plans and growth processes that lead to greater social impact.