Companies and individuals are desperately seeking metrics to track the ROI of social media participation. Which networks are profitable or worthy of time, which aren’t. I love numbers and spreadsheets more than the average person. As a matter of fact, I spent a couple of years doing sales forecasting. I lived and breathed spreadsheets and tracking systems and people got fired if their numbers didn’t look good on my spreadsheets. You can bet I understand the importance of numbers. They are crucial to every business.
BUT…..(you knew this was coming)… everything you do in your life doesn’t have to have a concrete measurement. Todd Carpenter said, “if you coach a softball game”, do you measure the ROI of getting new clients?” Now, that is just silly. Of course not.
People keep asking about the value of Foursquare. I love the application. I use it a lot, mostly when I travel or when I am out in the evening. During the day, I rarely check in, but if I wanted to, I bet I could be the mayor of my mac.
I consider Mike to be my friend from blip.fm. (Odd little social network. Really has no value, right? ) It is the place I engage with him most often.
So who cares what airport, I was in? Or Chris Brogan was in? Mike cared. He was in the same airport.
And next thing you know….
If I look a little road weary, I was. I was exhausted after multiple airport delays and too much travel. But more than anything, I was delighted to finally get to meet Mike, my friend from this odd little social network called blip.
On Sunday night, I noticed I had been added to a new Twitter list, Mike’s “met-irl” list, meaning we had met face to face. This is not isolated. This happens to me all the time. When I go places, I often look to see who is checked in our Foursquare. I now find people to follow on twitter who have checked in on similar places on Foursquare. What’s the ROI? Where’s the value? Do people care where I check in?
The value is the people. I own two businesses. Both of them are driven by people. If there were no people, I wouldn’t be in businesss.
Perhaps we should start measuring the ROP- Return on People. Or ROR. Return on Relationships.
I am not saying we shouldn’t have metrics to track our activity. As I mentioned above, I love metrics as much as the next numbers geek. But everything doesn’t have to have a metric.
If the only reason you go on FourSquare is to get a sale, you probably shouldn’t be on it. Facebook, same thing. (Facebook Business page- different story. You should be tracking metrics on that.) These are personal networks. If used appropriately, they can enhance your business opportunities. They have an ROR. A return on relationships. They may have an ROI, but they don’t have too.
I have developed relationships that turned into clients from blip.fm, twitter, facebook and foursquare. Just as I have developed relationships that have turned into clients from Junior League, the school foundation, and mommy playgroups. I don’t track the ROI of taking my kids to the park and shoot me if I ever do.
Every interaction we have doesn’t need an ROI. Just because you don’t understand how someone is using a particular platform doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Every interaction leaves a trail of social objects- connections that bloom into stronger relationships and opportunities.