Businesses survive social media death sentence

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If you thought your business would fail if you didn’t take someone’s advice, you’d act on it, right?

roi – erik qualman

If that person was highly regarded and experienced in his field, you wouldn’t have to think very hard would you?
Five years ago, Erik Qualman wrote in his book Socialnomics that ‘the ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in five years.’
A respected author, speaker and marketer gives a five-year death sentence to businesses who don’t use social media. That’s rather frightening considering that half a decade has passed and I don’t see scores of businesses failing because they’re not using social media. Maybe that’s because there are very few businesses not using it, and therein lies the irony. It’s messaegs like this that force people to use social media through fear more than strategy.
The book reached the number one best-selling lists in the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany, but it is perhaps the promotional video where this quote is drilled home, most vigorously.

Respected digital marketer

Erik Qualman has worked in marketing roles for Yahoo, AT&T and Cadillac. On his website, he calls himself the ‘Digital Dale Carnegie’, and this is not meant to be a personal criticism, but more a realisation that these throwaway quotes are bandied around just to sell books.
Qualman clearly knows his stuff, and his videos are an animated depiction of the constantly-changing statistics that make social media sound like the greatest things since sliced bread.

  • If Facebook was a country it would be the largest in the world
  • More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush
  • 93% of marketers use social media for business
  • The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in five years

But on the last point his time is up. Five years have passed and I don’t see businesses falling by the wayside just because they didn’t use social media. Businesses fail all the time, and I still don’t see failed business men and women kicking themselves for not being on Facebook and Twitter.

I don’t have a BA in marketing

I don’t even register on the scale of people like Erik Qualman. He is clearly leaps and bounds ahead of me in the marketing world. I don’t have a BA in marketing, an MBA or anywhere near the 100,000 followers he has on Twitter.
But let me ask you this: regardless of his credibility or mine, do you honestly think that any business has failed in the last five years because it wasn’t doing social media marketing?
[tweet “‘Do you honestly think that any business has ever failed because it wasn’t doing social media?'”]
Now be honest. And if you can’t be honest, wake up and smell the coffee.
Businesses aren’t failing because they aren’t using social media.

Social media vacuum

socialnomics – the book
Socialnomics is a best-selling book by Erik Qualman

Qualman says we are in a social media revolution, but it’s more like a vacuum where no-one can hear what’s going on outside the bubble. Businesses have been going through marketing revolutions for the last hundred years, through newspapers, magazines, telephones, radio, TV, the internet, it’s just evolution.
Compared to effective marketing channels such as email, search and content, what you can achieve with social media is potentially great, but more typically not as effective as more established methods, such as email marketing which can be 40 times more cost-effective.
But if Qualman is right and I am wrong, hit the button below and tell the world.
[tweet “@marchindley is wrong, my business failed because I opted out of #socialmedia”]
I’m not saying social media isn’t important, it is, but it’s frightening statements like this that are leading sensible businesspeople to hire the wrong people to help them in order to fast-track their social media. I’ve seen the Socialnomics video played at workshops to business people eager to learn about the social media revolution, and there’s an eerie pensive silence at the end. Is Erik Qualman some sort of marketing hypnotist?

After five years, what now?

Is it waffle or is it helpful?
Is it waffle or is it helpful?

Well, five years after the quote starting appearing in videos, it’s been removed. Businesses have been reprieved, they’ve been moved off death row.
Businesses can get back to focussing on marketing and not overly-focussing on social media marketing. To be fair to Qualman, he does say that ‘we don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it’, and with that I agree.
Let’s make no mistake, social media is a dominant part of our everyday lives, and businesses should carefully consider how they use it in their marketing strategy, not be scared to be different.
Of course, social media is still finding it’s feet, and brands and marketers should be experimenting with new ways to market products and services.
But if you’re still in business, take these quotes with a pinch of salt, and dream about coffee. It’ll smell so good when you wake up.

Over to you…

What do you think? Do you think that the hyperbole adds to the confusion?
[tweet “Businesses survive social media death sentence #socialmedia”]

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