Monday, April 06, 2009

Invest in Your Community for the Compound Interest

So I was talking to someone who had the following story for me as we discussed social media and it’s important role in brand building and community & employee engagement.

Associate:  Social media is a waste of time!  I started a Facebook page for my business, I did some blogging, I twittered…heck I even went to a SM focused conference and I have not had one lead come from it yet.

Me: How long have you been active in your community?

Associate: ALMOST 6 MONTHS (read with disdain and frustration), and I don’t have forever to wait to get an ROI, I only have so much time & I don’t see how this is helping me grow my business?

Me: You’ve barely even started!?  SM is not a lead gen program and is not a short term tactic.  Marketing through and participation in SM is an investment in your community, your space, your employees, your business, your customers, etc.  Think of it like a bank or any other long term investment.  Investing your hard earned money in an interest bearing bank account is not done because you need more money next week or next month.  It is done as a long term strategy and to leverage the power of Compound interest.  The reward is not immediate and your “investment” in time and effort contributing authentically to your community in a regular, repeated, valuable way will pay dividends for you and for your community over the years.

Associate: I need to drive business & cash immediately, don’t you know what is going on in my market right now?  I invested my time in this to turn my business around and sell through this medium.

Me: Then you didn’t understand how this medium worked before you engaged, you didn’t do your homework.  If you have short term business issues I can work with you on some tactics to preserve cash and sustain your business but this isn’t one of them.  You need to keep investing in SM but it isn’t your short term saviour.

Have you had this experience?  How have you handled it?  What guidance would you give an associate?

Too many people in my opinion are looking to capitalize on a short term lottery win through jumping on tools like twitter and thinking it will immediately turn around there business.  I empathize with many than NEED short term fixes but encourage you those people to address short term business issues aggressively and effectively while still participating in and building their community over the long haul.

BE Authentic & Caring with your community

BE Patient & Persistent with your contributions and willingness to help others

BE a Trusted Advisor that people can go to and follow for genuine guidance and real feedback and support

DO NOT be a used car salesman or a pompeous ass

DO NOT be condescending and arrogant

Some will disagree and I have no doubt that there are some examples of short term surgical tactics that have utilized SM tools to disseminate and drive promotions and programs with short term impact but don’t blog, twitter, vlog, FB, etc for a short term fix.  Compound your interest over time and lead your community towards a better ecosystem for all.

REMEMBER- A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS

David Meerman Scott has a great example of a some relatively short viral programs including one that Universal Orlando did with their Harry Potter Theme Park.  I’ll discuss David’s thoughts in a later post but I highly recommend his new book World Wide Rave!

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