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Is social media the end-all, be-all of all things business?

My wife keeps harking on the fact that (real or imagined) that some of my clients are NOT taking advantage of all that is social media (what ever that means, since there are so many different facets, and new one's created everyday, and old one's falling out of favor), that these companies can't compete. My retort is that social media isn't everything, it certainly isn't free (while using the service might be, you still would need a department and a hefty advertising/social media budget to do it "right") and because your using social media doesn't mean anyone will listen or come. What are your thoughts on the subject.

Answers

Glenn Rhuda
Title: Managing Director
Company: Mohr Partners
(Managing Director, Mohr Partners) |

I'm curious as to how much attention CFOs pay to social media when it comes to vendors and/or service providors reaching out to them via social media or publishing content via social media. Do they pay attention to social media outside their own company? Seems there is so much of it out there that it is overwhelming to CFOs that have no time.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

If we're talking the CFO personally, I doubt much. But there should be lines of communication from marketing (and/or other interested parties in firm) who should be charged with accessing vendors and service providers.

It's amazing what you can and can not find out about entities.

But the central thesis of my question still stands, must you participate in social media, which aspect and how much do you need to spend and where is the ROI?

Ern Miller
Title: Co-CEO
Company: Miller Small Business Solutions
(Co-CEO, Miller Small Business Solutions) |

There are companies that find success by social media, but I don't use it. I don't like it. 100 years ago, there probably were businessmen who said the same thing about telephones...a marketing tool I used very effectively in the 80s and 90s to sell everything from tombstones (if I called anyone on here, after reading about the death of a loved one in the obituaries, asking to sell a tombstone, I am sorry, for your loss and for my impersonal intrusion into your time of sorrow), to MCI phone service, to computers, to cars, carpet, software, and countless other things.

I just don't like the investment of time and money to make a good social media platform, only to need to redo it in a couple years after that particular social media tool gets unpopular. I don't see it as a good investment for return.

Maybe if I hired someone whose specialty was social media marketing, I might change my mind, but not at this time. I like word of mouth marketing by satisfied customers.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

It is significant (and gaining more strength/effectiveness) but not an end all and be all. The saying, don't put your eggs in one basket still applies. Traditional media and marketing still works but continues to decliine in effectiveness and/or reach. It will be a mistake not to engage on social media (at whatever level or platform you choose). In fact, social media is more trackable and analyzable than traditional marketing. The level of immediate feedback and customer engagement (for better or worse) is getting phenomenal.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Careers
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Careers) |

Where you stand should depend on where you sit. First and foremost, there is no one "magic marketing channel" for any firm. I can tell you from direct experience that certain audiences just do not respond to social media, they do not work or play there, and they certainly do not let it influence their actions. Social media initiatives need specific goals not just "number of eyeballs". Some goals may just be brand awareness, but the relevant audience needs to pay attention and have actions influenced by their interactions with social media.

In the corporate finance space I found Twitter, Facebook, and everything other than LinkedIn far from worth the expense. I have found that social media does not influence business decisions other than in B2C and C2C businesses, and in very few cases, B2B businesses.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

I like Ernie's line- LinkedIn makes sense for many people. Recruiters use it, so if you want to be found, spend time on your profile. Prospective customers use it before a meeting-they want to know who you are. If you are a service provider, use it to "know your customer"- be prepared for your first meeting.
Twitter may help some- it often depends on your role and industry.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

This question is something that has been tossed around a lot lately. I believe Ernie is spot on. The problem businesses are going to have is validating the effectiveness and length of time to utilize it for which target market. Who is responsible for finding the newest social media avenue when one becomes obsolete? What do we consider "obsolete?" Just because millennials dropped off Facebook, it's still widely used by "mom's and grandma's" as I hear people say.

Facebook, for example was once used by everyone it seemed. The millennial group dropped out and went to Twitter. Twitter became a major player but the Millennials have moved to Vine and Reddit.

How do you target the folks who do not use social media? This is the group that seems to suffer the most in terms of advertising. Fun debate, but I don't know that it's that simple. In a perfect world I would hire a marketing and talent scout and that is their job. They follow all of the sites and market, network and find talent when and where appropriate.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

There is also a major shift in having a store front on Main Street, and traffic would just naturally come in as they passed (which is wear window dressers made money by creating changing enticing scenes) and just having a web site or using social media.

People have to a) look for you (or keyword) or you need to create an advertisement they will see. Unlike a newspaper,where everyone who buys that paper will see the advert (if they flip to or bypass that page), the internet is a narrow focused instrument. I may never search for (or properly, another term that has a confused meaning) or it may never pop-up where I do flip pages (click on links).

While it may be easier to derive statistics, what do those stats really mean?

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I think you have to be in the game as a lot of consumers only look to social media, "whatever that is." And, I think you need the right resources to play. I totally agree it is not free by any stretch. What I would be interested in understanding is what are the risks, other than investment, in terms of reputation, controlling the message, etc.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Wayne,

And this is why many of us hire advertising firms. Do you put an ad in the paper, buy a slot in the Yellow Pages (once de rigueur), do a matching grant on NPR? Target market, channels, message. This is what the social media companies do. If you're B2B, facebook or twitter may not be the best place, but a technical blog (such as the ones I reference to figure out the latest GAAP rule), or an instructional Youtube video, can be quite a good choice.

An example of why a specialist may insert you into a blog or similar is that one of the overlooked facets of new media is the importance of interlinks. SEO depends on a bunch of factors, and one of them is interlinks. The more your company is linked and referenced across the web, the more "relevant" it becomes in search results. My point is that paths to success in this arena are non-obvious, and can take a level of skill and attention that may not be worth our personal investment.

As far as ROI, that's an age old question. It is very hard to predict, but not so hard to measure. For example an accounting firm I work with was able to get a near-top-of-list position for a certain combination of search terms. They have tripled in size over the past year, and are able to cherry-pick clients increasing profitability per hour. Another firm I work with specializes in driving demand through social media. Every campaign is different (target market, channels, etc), however for their first client in a new sector, they were able to accelerate revenue for that client by 18 months...pretty staggering.

Dialing back, when an advertiser needs tax / accounting / finance advice, they ought to call us. When we want to understand how to optimize our Yelp, show up on Google Maps, or be found when someone searches for "Social Media Accounting," or simply understanding *how* people discover our and our clients' businesses, our time is best invested in picking up the phone and calling a pro.

Dana Andresen
Title: Owner
Company: Distinctive Memories
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner, Distinctive Memories) |

I have found that depending on the business, it can be part of creating a 'community' of evangelists that is loyal and will promote and in some cases, defend a business.

In my former role, we used Facebook, a blog, and Twitter consistently and with an outside service producing content that I approved. YouTube was minimally used primarily to share. It was not terribly expensive. Some social media avenues are not relevant to a company. Overall I see it as part of a well-rounded marketing strategy when using the applicable components and can help a business gain traction and exposure.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

For B2B, I don't think social media is worthwhile. I see many B2B operations use social media, but I don't see it being used to obtain new or maintain existing business. For items that the ultimate consumer purchases and is aware of your brand, it is a tool that can be used to build brand awareness and a way to gather new information on how your product is viewed in the market place.

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