By Filip Matous, Evergreen Reputation

Just this week I was on a three way call with a client and their Webmaster and we had a disagreement about social media (SM). They had a twitter stream on every page of the website that I wanted removed because it wasn't adding any value. The Webmaster thought it was good idea to use facebook and twitter, and placed share buttons to Reddit and Stumbleupon in the footer. When I asked what financial return the social media was bringing, silence.

It's 2012, most SMEs are on SM, commonly on at least on one of the following: facebook, twitter or LinkedIn. Moving past terms like social proof, customer engagement, networking, and fans, if you are in business and investing in social media, it's only worth doing it if it helps you sell product or services.

I've heard all the other usual suspects that people cite when investing in SM: "We use social media to be a more human brand", "we use it to interact with customers", "we use it to connect with journalists", "we use it to network with other peers", "share our vision", etc.. Again, in a business capacity those things are good, but why are they good? They're a means to selling more stuff.

I approach SM as a tool that should ultimately increase profit. Not talking about personal SM or philanthropic efforts, I'm talking about SM you use in a professional capacity. Take stock of all the hours of SM use your company does every month. What ROI have you received? If you cannot trace the investment of time and/or money back to results such as additional sales or better CRM (client relationship management), your hours of SM effort should be invested in more business worthy efforts.

SM isn't essential for some businesses. It's a marketing tool that's often misunderstood. Stack it up against all other marketing efforts. Which one brings the best customer acquisition cost? Which one is improving your brand the best? Which method, in the last year, generated the most business?

Marketing is communicating the value of a product or service to customers. If your SM isn't achieving that in the end, ditch it or see it for what it is, entertainment or distraction, not business.

About The Author

Filip Matous is the Digital Strategist at Evergreen Reputation and can be found on twitter @filipmatous

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