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Does Social Media Really Matter?

Original Photo Credit: “Confused Duck” by Mindy Gerecke

Isn’t that the question in the back of your mind? “Does Social Media really matter to my business?”

I think at some point most people ask that question. In fact, just yesterday I got an email from someone that’s kicking around that very idea.

A few days ago Andrew discovered a functionality problem on my site and let me know about it (for which I’m grateful). I told him I would look into the problem and get back to him. Then I asked him what his biggest Social Media struggles are.

I ask that question a lot. Some of the most common responses I get back are:

  • Convincing our leadership that Social Media is important

And

  • Finding the time to do Social Media

But man, Andrew went right to the root …

“I find it hard to be convinced that reads, likes, shares, etc. really matter that much to my eventual bottom line.”  

Sound familiar? Maybe someone in your firm thinks the same thing. Maybe you do. Andrew went on:

“the more and longer I do this … the less I’m convinced that the extraordinary amount of time social media takes to do well actually ever pays off.”

He wanted me to convince him that Social Media really mattered. I’m glad Andrew threw that challenge out there; not because I want the opportunity to convert a doubter into a disciple but because it caused me to pause and step down off the bandwagon for a minute and admit that Social Media may not matter.

Despite what you may hear in some circles, Social Media is not a magic bullet. Many people treat Social Media as an isolated marketing technique, effectively putting it in a vacuum. That approach is misguided and ultimately inefficient if not ineffective. 

Social Media is an ‘all-in’ endeavor. If it’s right for you, you have to fully commit. The ultimate goal is to transcend the idea of Social Media and become a Social Company where every aspect of your business is Social. 

If you can’t do that you may need to decide that Social Media Marketing isn’t right for you just like you sometimes have to decide that certain clients or project aren’t a good fit for you. 

Social done right can affect your bottom line. Social done wrong is a waste of time and resources.

I talk more about this in “8 Ways Social Media will be the Death of Your Architecture Firm.”

Let’s get back to the question. Does Social Media really matter? Well, I think we’re asking the wrong question. In fact, I think there’s an even bigger issue at hand.

I think we should stop calling it Social Media.

As humans we like to name things; to label things. It helps us organize. At some point someone decided that we needed to organize Facebook and Twitter and blogs and podcasts and videos and commenting and sharing and liking and following and everything else that we associate with Social Media into a neat little box. From there, we’ve added to and generalized it to the point of meaningless oblivion.  

The term is so corrupted that I think we need a new one (or more than one).

Many people have become so focused on the tools and platforms and techniques of Social Media that they’ve lost track of the fact that the reason, the “Why” of Social Media is social interaction, communication, conversation, the exchange of ideas.

So does that matter? Does social interaction and the exchange of ideas matter? It’s literally one of the cornerstones of the concept of Society.

That’s great, but does it matter to your business?

How do you currently communicate? Social Media (if we’re still calling that) can only amplify those efforts.

How do you currently market and sell your work or your product? Social Media cannot make a sale. It can only open doors.

A lot of people tell me that they find their clients through networking, through word of mouth, through referrals from past clients. Social Media takes those same ideas, that same system and magnifies it; expands it to a potentially global scale.

Here’s the bottom line: the most valuable aspect of Social Media will always be the relationships that you make online and are then able to take offline. Once you figure out how to do that, then you’ve got something.

So does Social Media matter? I don’t know. You may be perfectly positioned in your local market. You may have built a physical network that will keep you in business for the generation to come. The balance of the time and effort that you currently spend on your marketing efforts and the business those efforts bring in may be perfect.

A committed Social effort may cost you more in time and resources than you think its worth. Or, it may allow you to grow, maybe survive the next downturn or explode into a company that you’ve only dreamed about. That’s a value proposition that you’ll have to figure out for yourself.

Why don’t you check out my article “Is Social Media Worth It For Architects?;” not so much for the writing but for the video of Seth Godin at the bottom. His comments speak to this better than I’ll ever be able to.

After you’ve watched the video let me know what you think. Does Social Media matter to your business? Does it matter to the FUTURE of your business? Let me know in the comment section below.

My goal is to start an open dialogue and let Architect of the Internet be a forum where we can all learn to have success in the business of architecture through Social Media.

About Jeff Echols

Jeff Echols is the creative Storyteller for Award-Winning architecture firms and the Social Media Campaign Manager for industry professionals. He is a graduate of Ball State University with over 20 years’ experience in the marketing departments of firms ranging from three to three thousand employees.

Jeff spends countless hours studying, developing and implementing strategies for insuring marketing success for Architects and other business owners in the online arena. He documents the good, the bad and the ugly in Social Media at Architect of the Internet and speaks about Conquering Social Media in venues ranging from the Board Room to the Convention Stage.

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