You Don’t Get Married After the First Date

Relationships aren’t simple. In fact, they’re pretty complicated. But every step of the way, you’re building something – you get to know each other – you find out what the other person does and doesn’t like – you fight – you make up – you build trust – you fall in love - and eventually, for most, you say “I do”. It’s far from the final step in a relationship, but it’s a milestone you work toward during all of those good (and bad) dates, missed punch lines,  and family dinners…

Recently, during a 90-minute social media consultation with a client, the question that always comes up came up.

“What is the ROI of social media”?

If you work in this industry, no doubt you’ve been asked this one before. If you’re a business thinking about integrating social media into your marketing plan (and want to make money), you’ve no doubt been the one asking this question.

In today’s “microwave generation” of instant gratification and quick results, social media is still, for many, an extremely foreign concept. But at the end of the day, social media is a tool to build and nurture relationships – and – just as with any “real life” relationship, they take time to develop.

Before you can push a sale, you have to put in the work. You need to earn the trust, respect, and love of your audience, community, and consumers.

In your plan, allow time for building relationships. Don’t lose sight of your benchmarks and goals, but understand that successful social media campaigns aren’t campaigns (one night stands) they’re ongoing, beautiful relationships that take time to develop and are forever a work-in-progress.

Where should you start?

Take a look at other brands and how they’re getting things done (without pushing sales). Start experimenting with your own conversation starters. Give people an incentive to talk back. Make mistakes, be ready to apologize, and keep trying new things.

Through it all, simply by being engaged and making an effort, your a huge step ahead of most. There’s a lot to be said for being top of mind - not being perfect, not being the best salesman, but being a brand that people remember having a conversation with.

Being memorable matters. Put in the time and show a little patience. Everything will not have a direct return on investment, but it all will contribute to your greater good, including a greater bottom line.

Leave a Comment

  • Well put Matt — unless it’s a “drunk in Vegas thing.” ;-) Reminds me of the old client chestnut “we tried that… once.” Once isn’t enough, not for your ads, direct mail, emails, not for Tweets and blog posts. No one runs just on series of ads or half a campaign and gets results, except maybe Apple. Even then they’ve built strong brand loyalty by consistently making good products, offering good service.

    A relationship with someone as they move towards loyal client or brand advocate will require a genuine courtship. Offering what customers need and want vs. a sales pitch, responding to feedback, helping them… that’s more than just a date. Most people are comfortable doing business with people or brands they feel they know, trust. Agree you need time and patience, with eyes on the prize (overall social media, business goals). FWIW.

    • Easy for us to sit here and write – not always as easy to explain to a client, eh? Time is something that a lot of businesses don’t have (or at least don’t think they have) – but it’s hard to argue with the benefits of social media, IF you’re willing to put genuine time and effort into the “courtship” period. It takes a little (or a lot) of wining and dining before you can seal the deal – but as with any relationship, it’s worth the wait.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Matt,

    Terrific post. Marriage is the perfect analogy for social media ROI. Over time, we begin to understand the “investment” we make in someone, or in this case, social media. In marriage, we work at improving as a team. Sure, there are bumps. But, the end result is something we are hopefully in love with.

    One question… is the “pre-nup” considered an RFP? ;-)

    Jason

    • We’re full of metaphors and analogies, eh? One-night stands (metaphorically speaking) may seem rewarding at the time, but they parallel social media “campaigns” – the short-lived, flash-in-the-pan success stories hardly ever lead to real, tangible results that the company is looking for.

      I’ve had many potential clients ask if we do “viral videos” – this illustrates my point above to a tee. Viral videos may be sexy and buzz-worthy, but a video of a cute cat – if it has nothing to do with your business or overall goals, is just that – a video of a cute cat. Even when planning for the short-term, long-term results need to maintain top of mind.

      Thanks, Jason. Hope all is well and look forward to chatting in a couple weeks!

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  • Whenever I sit down with a client who wants to get into social media, the first thing I tell them is that first-and-foremost, these platforms are meant to be used to engage with audiences and build relationships with them. I usually have to tell some other success stories but most of them warm up to the idea (not all of them, but it’s a work in progress).

    Still, that investment of time is still daunting to so many people I speak with. Your last paragraph put’s it perfectly, especially “being memorable matters”. Hopefully this idea will help ease fears of that social media commitment in the future!

    Also, everything you’ve said here is a great way to justify the use of social media in general (even personally). I STILL get people rolling their eyes at me when they find out that I love Twitter, blogging, etc. It can be just as tricky to sell it to the people in my life as it is to clients.

    P.S. Is that a shot of you and your wife at your wedding? It’s a good one :)

    • Touche’ – most of my friends and family don’t know what Twitter is, much less give a darn when I start telling them how it’s helped me build a business and see the success I have at such an early point in my life. It all takes time, but as living proof, it’s easy for me to ‘preach’ the good word to clients.

      Case studies help, a lot. Find other businesses who have seen success, and more importantly, how they’ve done so, and share that with your clients.

      And yes, that’s a photo of my wife and I. Thanks!

  • A client told me once when a boss asked about the ROI on their time spent executing a social media strategy she replied, “I’ll get back to you on that after you tell me the ROI on our telephone system.”

    • Love it too. We don’t worry about the ROI on typical “cost of doing business” things. Yet for marketing, PR, social media.. it’s a nickel and dime accounting of how every dollar “translates” into a lead. You have to watch those dollars wisely, spend it in the right places for the right audiences, but you have to spend it.