BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) Many ask what is the Return On Investment of social media. They forget to ask the question, what have we invested in social media to gain a return? Too often that investment is college interns who are guiding the social media efforts of your organization, and you get exactly what you (don’t have to) pay for.
I was in a highly respected publication’s offices yesterday. I’ll not name names, but you could check my Twitter stream or Four Square to find out where I was. And the Director of Social Media for this organization talked about how they are depending upon their absolutely brilliant INTERN to guide them on social media. I’ve heard this so many times recently I could just puke.
Times are tough for many organizations today. Which results in a conversation that goes something like this:
VP, “We need to get into this new social media stuff. But there’s no budget, what can you do?”
Manager, “I’ll find a college kid who will work for credit, we don’t need to pay them anything.”
VP, “Great, get it going and report back on your progress.”
Manger, “Will Do!”
Jump forward 3 months:
VP, “Why is everyone doing spending so much time on social networks? We need more productivity!”
Manager, “We are learning about how to use them and starting to see some positive results.”
VP, “What’s the ROI of the time we’ve spent so far?”
Manager, “We’ve… ummm… got the training wheels on and are just starting to understand how to use social media. We don’t have a formal ROI measurement system in place yet.”
VP, “Well it’s clear that all this social media crap is over blown B.S. I’m telling IT to shut down Facebook and Twitter so people can get back to work.”
Where could this possibly have gone wrong? You don’t think that using an Intern who’s still in school and doesn’t understand business as your guide into the world of social media has anything to do with it?
In this case you get exactly what you pay for. Paying nothing for someone who understands the technology is foolish. It’s like hiring a mechanic to guide you to on the roads instead of a GPS.
Someone who understands how children use social networking to talk with each other will not guide your business into the social media world. If you use children as your guides in the social media world it will work- only if your business is trying to sell to children. If you are trying to sell to adult business people, you need someone with business experience telling you how to use social media for business purposes.
There are a great many businesses today struggling to understand why they can’t use social media effectively. And they are depending upon college aged interns for their guidance in the world of social media. And they wonder why they can’t find the ROI. Unless you are lucky enough to find a Bill Gates, Sergey Brin or one of the other wunderkind as your intern, you are not going to make much headway in social media without hiring someone with some experience in business and social media. You can of course hire me.
So before you ask the question what’s the RETURN on my investment, ask what you have INVESTED to earn that return.
Give me 1 Good Reason why an intern is a good social media investment?