I like and admire Erik Qualman. I’ve met him a couple of times and he is a fellow author at McGraw Hill. He is a kind man, a legitimate intellect, and one of the top speakers in our field.
His insanely popular series of fast-paced “social media revolution” videos have been viewed millions of times and are standard fare to kick off a social media class or workshop. In under four minutes, these catchy factoid machines impress upon the viewer the power and importance of our society’s digital transformation.
But there is one “fact” that Erik has included in each version that makes me cringe:
“The ROI of social media is your business will still exist in 5 years.”
If you would believe Erik, we are on the cusp of a social media apocalypse. Without Facebook, Twitter and the all-important “listening,” we would expect companies to start going “poof” during the impending social media rapture event.
Ironically, Erik’s first video with this quote was about five years ago … and there has been no such end of the business world. Miraculously there are still plenty of businesses that don’t even have a Facebook page that are somehow making lots of money. Like Apple.
Let’s not sell fear
Certainly the digital revolution is real and any smart businessperson must consider the consequences and adjust. But adjusting to your changing competitive environment is just smart business and it always has been.
Business success is about far more than having an active Twitter account. A common problem I see is that businesses and many consultants peddle this fear and a notion that the lack of a social media strategy is a sure sign of doom.
In fact, that may be the least of their worries.
Let’s not lose sight that businesses need to identify and execute upon a sustainable point of differentiation, perhaps in a global marketplace. They need to create products and services that brilliantly address unmet or under-served customer wants and needs. They need to constantly adjust and innovate. Successful businesses need to manufacture their products through an efficient and reliable supply chain with consistent quality. Customer service levels need to meet or exceed customer expectations. The company needs to attract and retain the talented employees that will sustain the success of the enterprise.
And then we can talk about Facebook.
Social media does not assure business success
When social media gurus point to success stories, Dell Computer is always at the top of the list. Yet the company’s stock is at a five-year low. Let’s keep in mind that it takes a lot of moving parts to create business success and having an effective social media strategy is neither profitability pixie dust nor an insurance policy against demise.
I think the point that Erik tries to make — and I do agree — is that without considering digital relevancy, a company will be vulnerable. Today, it’s negligent to dismiss the digital revolution. I just think there is a better way to get that across than hyping doom.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.
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