Return on Networking – the ROI of Social Media (guest post)

I was never a fan of the cocktail party-variety networking scene. I will never be one to dart around a room shoving business cards into people’s hands. I prefer meaningful conversations with people, getting to know them and vice versa.

But social media networking? That’s something different altogether. Done right, it’s never a hit-and-run. Rather, it consists of building relationships over months and even years by sharing information – both professional and personal – through posts, comments and responding to questions in various online communities.

What’s the return on investment, the ROI, for putting that kind of time into social media? Actually, it’s called the RON – the “return on networking.”

And for me, it’s huge.

I’ve been on Facebook for five years; I also have Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts, among others. All totaled, I’m now approaching 100,000 friends, followers and connections. Those followers expose my name and message to their audiences every time they “like” one of my posts or share one of my links. Recently, someone re-tweeted something I’d shared on Twitter – he had 130,000 followers! That’s a potential audience of 130,000 people I likely would have never reached otherwise.

Talk about exposure!

Who knows how many of those people may someday become my clients? Who cares? I’ll still consider the exposure a good return on networking. Here’s why.

The RON of social media isn’t always tangible, not immediately, anyway. By establishing a continued presence online through regularly sharing content of use to my followers, I’m building my platform and my reputation as an expert. That grows in surprising ways – and it lives in surprising places.

A recent case in point: Late last year, I got a call from a prominent New York City hair stylist, the director of a salon in one of that city’s premier department stores. He wanted to talk about some publicity needs and what my company could do to help him.

When I asked how he got my name, he explained he’d written some books over the years with a co-author, and she’d heard me at a speaking engagement.

Well, that made sense. Speaking at conferences is still a great way to get your name out while also building credibility.

But the next thing he said came as a complete surprise.

“So, then I contacted the corporate office (of the department store chain) and asked what PR agency they would recommend.” And they recommended me and my company!

I don’t know a soul in the corporate offices of that high-end retail chain. I can only guess they learned of me through social media.

Just being on Twitter or Google+ isn’t enough, of course. You have to make a diligent effort to regularly post content that people find valuable, including links to informative articles, tips relevant to your topic, and/or informed insights on topics in the news.

You also have to “be a human,” as our lead social media strategist, Jeni Hinojosa, likes to say. She and our other social media producers encourage clients to send photos when they go on vacation, celebrate milestones or engage in hobbies. Posting those photos with a comment adds a personal touch that allows followers to connect on a more emotional level.

Our social media producers also make sure clients’ personalities shine in their posts, showing their sense of humor and letting followers in on the other things they care about, whether it’s victims of a natural disaster or a favorite charity.

Interaction is equally important. Strive to respond to every comment or question posted on your networking sites. Interacting is engaging, and people who are engaged tend to be happy followers. The more you take part in conversations via comments and responses, the more lively and visible your presence becomes.

The RON includes increased traffic to your website; increased trust in your brand and what you’re selling; and greater word of mouth than you could ever hope for by attending a cocktail party or even a speaking engagement.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 23-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST. Follow her on Twitter:@marshafriedman.

thirdoceanTV – in conversation with Andrew Jenkins

The following interview with Andrew Jenkins first appeared on the thirdocean website. As many of you now know, thirdocean is a boutique social media and digital communications agency that I am partner with. I also have the privilege of being the host of program called thirdoceanTV.

Andrew Jenkins is an emerging technology strategist with Volterra Consulting. Over the last five years, social media strategy has become an increasingly larger part of the work that he does. His focus goes beyond social media campaigns to the “operationalization” of social media and the ongoing efforts required to turn an organization into a social enterprise.

In this full episode, Andrew chats with me about:

– How he shifted from ICT consulting to social media consulting
– What is a social enterprise and what does it mean to operationalize social media
– Why banks and other financial institutions are interested in social media
– How banks measure Return On Investment (ROI)
– Why Twitter as a utility has become important
– What innovations we can expect in 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJx_1UrAX-0?rel=0]

Connect with Andrew Jenkins on his website at www.VolterraConsulting.com and on Twitter at @ajenkins.

Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay up to date with our conversations with North America’s leaders in Social Media and Digital Communications. Follow us on Twitter @wearethirdocean, and Like us on Facebook.

thirdoceanTV – in conversation with Jaime Stein

The following interview first appeared on the thirdocean website. thirdocean is a boutique social media and digital communications agency that I am partner with.  I also have the privilege of being the host of  program called thirdoceanTV.

This year’s first guest is Jaime Stein of ING.  Jaime currently leads the social media strategy for ING DIRECT here in Canada. Prior to that he was the Canadian Football League’s head of digital and social media where he was in charge of content strategy for CFL.ca.  Jaime also launched the CFL’s involvement in social media.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=424rS2CWqu4?rel=0]

You can follow Jaime Stein on Twitter and on his website.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay up to date with our conversations with North America’s leaders in Social Media and Digital Communications. Follow us on Twitter @wearethirdocean, and Like us on Facebook.

Decisions, decisions

I recently entered a contest that was promoted by Toronto-based My City Lives and sponsored by ING Direct Cafe.  It was a contest that asked people to create a video that talked about a place they use to “save money in the city of Toronto.”  I made a couple of videos.  The one that I was hoping would win was my piece on The Work Republic.  (See video below.)

Last week it was announced that my submission was one of the winners.  First off, congratulations to all the other winners as well.  There are some cool videos and suggestions of places that I will definitely be keeping in mind.

Second, thanks to everyone who watched and voted for my video.

Now things get a little complicated.  I have two choices of prizing that I can choose from.  The first choice is a brand new iPad. I would REALLY like a brand new tablet as I’ve been having challenges with my Android tablet. The second choice is to pick a charity for the ING Direct Cafe to donate $2500 to.

So the choice I’m left with is do I take the iPad or do I enable a worthy cause?

If I “donate” the $2500, the charity gets awareness and the money to help them continue their work and programming.  I also win by being the “nice guy”  who gave up the cool iPad to help out a worthy cause. However,  some people might say I did this to increase my likeability.

If I choose the iPad I lose.  Yes I get the iPad but I also will become known as the douche who chose to NOT give money to a charity.

If no one was aware of my choice maybe this wouldn’t be such an interesting decision.  But it is public.

What would your choice be?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4mrIrKNVt4&w=560&h=315]