Archive for March, 2011

Is this a question you can answer? If so, I applaud you. You’ve figured out the formula to give a monetary value to your relationship without pissing anybody off.

Social media ROI has been a question on the books from the start. To date, I haven’t seen a single person or business who’s put an exact number to their social media efforts be successful in a social media space.

What dollar value do you associate with being present for the first goal your son has ever scored in a soccer game? What price do you pay to watch your daughter at her first dance recital? What dollar sign do you assign to any one of those times that you must pass up?  Please, tell me. I’d like to hear how you price out your life.

When I was working in a call centre, fundraising for my alma mater, my job was to call university alumna and fill them in on the happenings of their faculty. Nursing turned out to be one of the least favourite faculties for any of us to call. The nurses were bitter, they were overworked. Mostly, the era of nurses we called felt like nothing more than a number to the university.

Tell those nurses that their education was valuable. Tell them that for every second, minute, hour, year–whatever statistic you come up with. Tell them how much value it added to your institution. I bet it’ll make them feel like a million bucks. Educate them on their ROI.

Next, jump on the phone with your best friend. Let him or her know just how much being friends with them has added to your life. Don’t do it in terms of verbiage. Put a dollar value to it. “Mary, being friends with you over the years has meant so much to me. I feel like you’ve added at least another $50,000.00 to my life.” Will it matter what value you put on the relationship?

Think about the Mastercard commercials:

Eddie buying his first tuxedo: $500
Eddie renting his first limousine:$250
Eddie’s corsage for his girlfriend: $75
The look on Eddie’s first girlfriend’s face when he picks her up for the prom: priceless

There’s no way to value that moment. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.

There’s no way to put a value to the relationships you build with your friends, community and customers. So why are you trying so hard to do it? If an advertising campaign can capture the fact that there are some moments and some relationships you just can’t buy, why can’t you?

Do you remember when everyone was all excited that the internet, and subsequently social media, gave them a voice? It was novel to publish something that anyone else could read without having to go through a publisher. Anyone could find you. So many people were rushing online that it was a little overwhelming. It was almost like a million stock brokers all shouting on the exchange floor. Buy me! Sell me! Ah heck, somebody just listen to me! And like the good little minions we’ve been trained to be, we stuck our fingers in our ears and hummed as loudly as we could. “I’m not listening. I can’t hear you!”

The land of Twitter, at least the land of Twitter that I knew, went through a phase where it was all just a bit too chaotic. There were people everywhere, yet only a handful who seemed to know what they were doing. Some of them became annoyed with the massive amount of newbs flooding the little world they had worked so hard to create. In the Calgary scene, I caught wind of a rather grumpy undertone starting to take seed. Resentment? Exhaustion? Having to watch and experience yet another wave of people “discovering” social networking and how fast their message can travel, watching them stumble a bit when to us it’s so natural and so easy after years playing with these tools. I could see how that could get old real fast.

But do you know what’s gone and happened? Why, we all stuck it out. Surely, if you were that fed up with everything, you could have simply given up, closed your account and moved on. And some of you have, but the rest of us… we’ve stuck it out. Our little community was experiencing a rather massive growing pain. But much like our awkward adolescent years, we’ll grow up and block it out.

We’ve created something pretty special. We’ve created a place where individuals come along to a group full of people they’ve never met before and announce “Hello, I’m here!” Do we turn away with a cold shoulder? No, we turn towards them, give them a big a smile and say “Welcome!” And with that, we’ll turn to the rest of the group and say “Hey group! Have you met so and so? They’re new here. Why don’t you help me make them feel at home?” Then the group swarms around, and the newcomer is welcome. All it took was for them to let us know they’re here.

This feels good. I’m proud we’ve managed to cultivate a little sense of community in this online world. Those of you in amidst the crowd, helping others figure it all out, you stand out to me. You’re my kind of people. I can’t wait to see this perpetuate.