Intelligence may not help survival, but apparently being nice does.
Charlene Li recently posted about a study that correlates companies’ Social Media engagements with financial success. As usual, it is well-researched and interesting, and Charlene made clear that this is a correlation and not a causal link. But still some people have got a bit over-excited about the study and claim that it proves that engaging in Social Media improves financial performance.
Unfortunately, I could just as easily say that this study shows how far we are from proving ROI, with only the highly profitably companies able to invest in something that cannot be linked to a specific sale.
I had a Twitter discussion with Charlene that ended with the following:
@DaGood Given that some of the top brands are barely involved in SM, shows that they have a hard time dedicating $$, so it’s a luxury
Sometimes I feel like the guy in the picture below – I have faith, but I cannot prove what I know in my heart to be true. It surely makes business sense to be nice and engage in Social Media, no? I can tell you that people trust other consumers much more than they trust advertising, but I just can’t give you a dollar figure ROI right now.
So what now? Well, I believe that the lack of proven ROI will force companies to make a choice: they either take a leap of faith and adapt to this new super-social environment, or they stick to the old purchase-funnel thinking and keep their head in the sand waiting for a ROI figure to be produced.
I have faith that what appears to be a luxury will turn out to be a necessity; soon all that will be left is the companies that were willing (or able) take this leap of faith and find ways of authentically engaging with their customers.