Every once in awhile, I jump on Google and try to catch up with the most current perspective on various topics I am tracking. Social media use in economic development is one of those topics. You can read my past posts on this subject by clicking HERE.
This post provides you a number of select links I found interesting on the subject. It is intended to make your job of keeping current on the subject a little easier.
How is Social Media Being Used By Businesses?
Businesses are still trying to figure out the role of social media in their overall marketing mix. It is amazing how many white papers and books have been written on the subject in the last few years.
A perfect example is ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth), authored by Jim Lecinski. The book attempts to make the case that more, and more consumers are engaged in online research before making in-store purchases. Of course Jim is the Managing Director of US Sales for Google and his company stands to make a lot of money by convincing companies they need to advertise online or risk losing the sale altogether.
I have still not found a study or data that convincingly concludes social media is a smart investment. Therefore, at this stage my recommendation is to engage only if there is a sound strategic reason to do so and accept that your investment requires a leap of faith.
In fill disclosure, I use social media as a communication challenge and have accepted the leap of faith. So, please don’t misunderstand my point. I am not advising against use of social media, I am simply advising you acknowledge and accept the risk that an ROI may not be there.
Here are some statistics that may make the leap a little more comforting for you. Or, if you have already taken the leap of faith, will provide you with some numerical comfort that you may have made a smart decision, kind of, sort, of, fingers crossed …
How is Social Media Being Used in Economic Development?
With the reduction in most Economic Development Organization’s budgets for promoting their location, it seems social media is being used as a less expensive substitute for traditional marketing and sales tactics. There is certainly a lot of hoping going on that the leap of faith was a smart choice.
Here is a sampling of links to articles that describe how social media is being used in economic development. After reading them, hopefully you will find your EDO is pretty much on track with the current best practices. I even included one of my earlier blog posts.
How Do You Determine If You Are Getting A Positive Return?
This is the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the million-dollar answer. But, I did find some good work some people have done to create a formula to help you determine if you are getting a positive return. At a minimum, these calculators will provide you food for thought.
In my opinion, the jury is still out on the real value of social media in economic development (or even business in general). The role is evolving and as more rigor is applied to assessing the impact, more guidance will be created to help us make smarter investment choices.
My consistent counsel has been and will continue to be – don’t confuse activity with proven results. Just because everybody seems to be investing in social media doesn’t mean it is necessarily a right choice. It could just as easily mean there will be a lot of disappointed people.
Engage with your eyes wide open. See the risk and consciously decide to accept or reject it. And, have a healthy skepticism that leads you to try and test everything you do. We are in the very early stages of figuring out the role of social media. Expect that not everything will work and have a process in place to stop investing in specific initiatives you find to be a waste of resources. Be brutally objective in your assessment. Stopping something will allow you to redirect the funding to try something else. For the foreseeable future social media will be an experimental tactic for most of us, so experiment smartly.
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