Thursday, July 02, 2009
"I was selling in the idea that social media is free, until the community manager headcount came in."
Brilliant line from David Armano's article in the Harvard Business Review, quoting Brian Wallace from Blackberry.
He goes on to discuss the different considerations that companies need to make when entering the social sphere, including Seeding, Feeding and Weeding.
This is the whole point - this stuff is not 'free'. People look at viral videos on YouTube, or blogs, or tweets, and they assume that because there is (generally) no media payment, then it's free. But it's not - it takes a lot of hard work and man hours; this stuff is generally very labour intensive (& I speak as someone who's had to go into a YouTube account every day to remove offensive - really offensive - spam from the comments of a very popular video that I seeded.)
When I read pieces in the media about Dell making $3m in revenue from their twitter account over two years I think:
1 - That's great, really great - it's a new revenue stream that they've identified, and it's great that they've shared the data.
2 - It's revenue, not profit, and to quote Ruth Badger (!) 'revenue is vanity, profit is sanity'.
3 - What was the real ROI of this, when you take into account the man hours etc? Because you can bet your life that companies like that have multiple conference calls each week (each day?) assessing the ROI of every bit of paid media that they're using, constantly monitoring each site, placement, creative group and so on. Oh, and by the way, some banners do still work very well.
This is why social media should be part of the overall media mix, and judged accordingly. Similarly activity should be designed and structured in such a way as to be able to assess the effectiveness as fully as possible.
& that's why I love this presentation so much!
See also - two great twitter case studies