Social Media Marketing brings with it an ever-changing landscape for business owners that make it virtually impossible to compare metrics for ROI when choosing vendors that will bring results. Bottom Line is that SOCIAL NETWORKING is still all about RELATIONSHIPS, those relationships have to be based in REALITY and not just another platform to which you COMMERCIALIZE all communications to others by always BROADCASTING new products, sales, what YOU are doing.
Relationships are based in TRUST of Competence, Character, Chemistry, and Ability to communicate. Social platforms are very powerful way to manage multiple existing relationships and leverage time to stay in touch with more people. However, the flip side is that now you are in touch with MORE PEOPLE.
With the rise of Twitter and Facebook ( now caught up to Google) with its Advertising numbers and opportunities for target marketing, these NON PUBLIC entities have a significant amount of POWER and RESPONSIBILITY for maintaining security, filtering out scammers, spammers, and other unsavory tech savvy people using it to do bad. I believe that NING platforms have been poo pooed by the DESIGN and BRANDING community because they believe it takes away from their business and lowers the expectations and $$$ they could get for custom programming and sites. but now with EACH NING creator being responsible for maintaining their respective communities, they have passed a significant amount of responsibility on to Non-Employees who VOLUNTEER to help NING become more powerful and successful.
The bottom Line is that ultimately you can create Media to "go viral" but no one can really tell what will 'go viral" and what won't. the other question is that even if you can create media that goes viral, does it really impact the bottom line of your organization? How do you measure that? What are you willing to Pay for someone else to create and manage it for you? How do you quantify results, what Dollar Value do you attach for Social Media & networking Services? How to you value your TIME? that is one of the biggest items to quantify and one of the easiest ones that you can over spend to the detriment of your cause / organization.
With tools like Google Analytics, you can see impressions and statistics as far as traffic, but if you are not "RETAIL" selling anything online direct to consumer, its a little tougher to measure.
I definitely believe that your SOCIAL NETWORKING needs to be balanced with good old fashioned BELLY TO BELLY NETWORKING and effective communication and follow up with prospects and clients.
What are the repercussions of jumping into it without a PLAN? They can be significant. Your Brand is your Image, anything you or people in your organization post reflects on that Brand Image ( good and bad ). The increasing amount of liability coupled with the inability of our Laws to catch up with technology and media is astounding. There are Soooo many factors that need to be built within a PLAN that should be addressed, and then the PLATFORMS keep changing. So going back to metrics, if the platforms keep changing how they operate, their algorithms, the ease of communication with "friends" or "followers" etc... and as more people FLOOD the platforms, engage for a while, then pull away and disengage; then the ability to MANAGE something that I can't accurately MEASURE becomes my biggest frustration. The resources of TIME, TALENT, TREASURE that I dedicate to SOCIAL MARKETING have to managed well as a Steward.
"If you don't like change, you will like IRRELEVANCE even less" - General Eric Shinseki
Here is my biggest problem with the CHANGE that is taking place; the lack of INTEGRITY is being exposed in our nation and its businesses. In order to get ahead in your marketing, (i.e. TOP OF GOOGLE SEARCH, etc...) you have to CHEAT or PAY PEOPLE TO CHEAT. What I mean is, the basics of the algorithms are still on click(s) & impressions that can so easily be manipulated by someone who knows what they are doing. Same as Twitter Followers etc... you can purchase 10,000 followers in 10 minutes for $50... somehow, someway there are companies that get legitimate profiles following you.
Google even helps you "Cheat" it tells you what WORDS to put in your site, what is most searched for etc... they provide the data to help you beat the other guys marketing.
In the END, the guy with the most $$$ to throw at Social Media and Marketing may not always come out on top, but he definitely has the best shot. The Silver Lining is that the Little guy can learn on a shoestring budget and if he is creative enough, sharp enough, and knows his limits can still be successful using this media as part of on OVERALL method to market in conjunction with many other MARKETING strategies and medias.
I love this EXAMPLE below that a Local company uses to show how they are ON TOP OF IT, but it also illustrates the COMPLEXITY and FRUSTRATION of the points that I made above. Enjoy the picture below, I am done ranting for now.