At a recent networking dinner, the topic of conversation was “Social Networking, Successes and Failures.” One of the participants provided a fascinating definition of social networking, explaining that LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are like parties: the office party (LinkedIn), the private party by invitation (Facebook), and the block party on Main Street where anyone can join in (Twitter). Despite my best attempts at enthusiasm about all three types of “parties,” I still think parties should involve good food, beverages, and an opportunity to look people in the eyes and hear them laugh. As a life long “Ambivert,” or someone who is both an introvert and an extrovert, I can understand being introverted at your computer and being extroverted at a dinner party. Being an extrovert on the computer still confuses me, however.
Over the last year, my coworker and I have interviewed more than 100 entrepreneurs and a big majority of them believe that face time is critical to the growth of their customer bases. This includes companies selling items for $3 up to those selling products and services that cost millions. Only roughly 35% of the entrepreneurs have used Social Media, and only 20% have tweeted. Social Media is used primarily to help expand opportunities for face time. However, according to entrepreneurs, Social Media can never replace it.
While playing golf with the Director of a large non-profit organization, I asked whether they raised all their money via Social Media these days. She smiled broadly and explained that 98% of money raised came from direct mail (that’s right – snail mail), and only 2% from internet based communications. I was flabbergasted! The reason, she explained, is that while the internet may have more eyeballs, the direct mail gets more eyeball time. On their computers, people are quick to delete any messages from organizations, and turn “pitch” communications into “junk.” Users are in control of what they look at, what they avoid, and how long they look. A direct mail piece, however, sits on the hallway table until it is finally relegated to the recycling bin. Apparently, after enough of these mailings sit on the same hall table for days at a time, people finally pick it up, read it, and send in a check! In 2012!
Years ago, I was a marketing consultant who could create marketing and sales plans based entirely on facts. We tested marketing messages, and then, based upon test data and experience (facts), we deduced what percent of the market would respond, how many contacts it would take to cause a targeted prospect to make a purchase decision, and what percent of sales would be lost due to buyer’s remorse. I scour articles on Social Media looking for the facts. How many sales does tweeting generate? How many Facebook “Likes” turn into sales? How many LinkedIn contacts does it take to generate 1 sale or 1 million? Does a newsletter generate sales or soften the market? I’ve learned that certain companies have used Social Media as immediate PR and Advertising vehicles, and that by posting a sale on the item of the day, they have generated lines outside their doors. The success stories are there, but the data isn’t. How many, how much, and how often in order to meet a sales plan?
Now, I’m in the process of launching a new series of Apps about entrepreneurship and I must take all aspects of Social Media very seriously. It’s time to learn how it’s really done and find what data is out there. I’ve hired an expert to help me. Entrepreneurs are our target market, so entrepreneur feedback to me is like tennis balls to a labrador. For that reason, I’ve added a poll on Social Media below. I would love to have your feedback!
All the best!