It seems like everything we read today emphasizes the importance of social media. We constantly read and hear about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other forms of this new media. We are told about the importance of social media and how critical it is to create your own community. While I use social media, I want to challenge the level of importance being placed upon it. Think about it. You are a busy executive with potentially hundreds of contacts at different organizations. Are you really going to sign up to receive Tweets from each of these companies? I highly doubt it. So how much time should you spend on social media?
I would propose using the complexity of the transactions your organization is trying to generate and the size of your company as guidelines. If you look at the development of online sales over the last decade, there is little room for doubt that more and more complex sales are happening online without human intervention. Think back to when you purchased your first book from Amazon.com. It might seem like eons ago, but it was probably only ten to twelve years ago. Today, online commerce has evolved to the point where people buy cars, computers, and other big ticket items without human intervention. Another thing that has evolved in the last decade is email marketing. How many emails do you delete every day without even reading them? Probably quite a few if you are like most people.
Now, let’s assume your company generates complex transactions. If your organization is large enough to support a marketing team, you will definitely want to dedicate resources to social media. It is becoming part of the requirements of even being in the game, similar to websites and business cards. However, what if your company is smaller and does not have a multimillion dollar marketing budget? You will still want to dedicate some resources to social media, but be very careful to measure your results. It is easy to get excited by the latest technology and take off with it. Remember though, you are selling a complex product or service (or location). These complex sales are closed through relationships. Close relationships. Do not fall into the trap that you will Tweet (or email) your way to a deal. These large transactions require trust that must be built through live forms of communication such as phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and the old-fashioned business lunch.
So go ahead and take advantage of social media. There is a good chance you can generate and nurture some leads. Just don’t forget that complex deals are usually struck between people who know and trust each other. There is an old commercial that says it best: Reach out and touch someone.