Monday, 20 February 2012

Will tomorrow's decision makers invite you to their party?

During the past couple of years I have spoken at numerous events to a wide variety of audiences from many walks of life and the same question seems to come up in one form or another at every event; what is the ROI with social media? It may not be that exact question but, regardless of how it is phrased, they want to know the same thing.

There are various ways to look at ROI and perhaps we will explore some of these in a future blog posts however, today I want to share one answer I often use which usually raises a few eyebrows and, if it is Tweeted in isolation, it is usually misinterpreted. (one of the shortcomings of a 140 character limit)

The answer is as follows:
If you are not involved in social media, you will not be getting new business in five years time.

My thinking behind this is fairly simple although I do concede the timescale will vary depending on the various factors; for some organisations it may be as little as two years and for others it may be as many as ten years. Regardless of timescale, I believe all organisations will struggle to get their fair share of new business if they are not social.

Generation ‘Y’ is growing up, they are entering the workplace and they are starting to progress through their organisaions into decision making roles. Generation ‘Y’ has never known anything but the internet; this is how they do their research, this is how they get their news, this is how the find out what’s happening in the world and in their industry – in short, this is how they communicate.

When they get responsibility for deciding who is going to be invited to tender for the supply of IT services or, who is to get the new cleaning contract or, who will provide the business travel services they will automatically research the options online. Yes, this may include your web site and good SEO will most likely make you findable.  However, what if your competitor has a similar web site but is also a highly engaged, transparent, content creator with lots of useful support information? In addition, they are highly visible and extremely well thought of in the industry and among their customers. Whom is your highly social young decision maker going to err towards?

If you are not social and not creating content you are not visible, it then follows that you will not be invited to the party when the invitations are being handed out.  Surely, the danger of being invisible vs. the rewards of being found online is ROI enough for any organisation?

There is another thing to consider; Generation ‘Y’ want to work with organisations that are social. Given what I have already said about how they use the Internet, they don’t want to work for organisations that effectively tie their arms behind their back by blocking Internet access. Why would they want to work for an organisation that will not let them use the tools with which they have grown up? How can they flourish and rise through an organisation that doesn’t enable them to communicate effectively?

I have asked various recruitment consultants if graduates ever ask about a prospective employer's social media policy and apparently, it is becoming a common question.  So, there is a very real danger that non-social businesses will struggle to recruit the best people in the future; this may affect your business much quicker than five years.

The fast maturing Generation ‘Y’ will play a very important part in the future of all businesses and, if you’re not social, the party could be over by the time you get there.

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1 comment:

  1. That's a really good answer Gordon. Of course, as you have alluded to, reports of death usually are exaggerated so the wise will take on board the lesson and put it in context.

    Not all anti-social businesses will die I'm sure, but one things is for sure: ignoring it is not a risk any business of mine would want to take.