A few years ago I had a lengthy conversation with a very progressive, high level executive about the topic of social media, brand growth and ROI. Given that his career had spanned decades, continents and cultures, he provided me with some valuable guiding thoughts which I have summarized below.
“Human nature dictates we believe more in things we can touch, taste, hear, see or smell. Our brains are comfortable with the idea of investing “X” to receive back “2X”. We like lines, cords, connectors that we can trace to know that things are linked and if certain levers or ropes are pulled or pushed, then we will receive our due reward.
Measuring social media ROI however is not analogous with counting extra cash generated from customers bringing in coupons. Social media ROI comes in many forms, not always tied directly to increased sales and profitability.
Brands who want to gain and or maintain leadership should consider the term compensation in place of the more quantitative ROI acronym. Social media builds awareness, trial and if done well, brand loyalty. Social media also builds both tangent and non-tangent connections that open undiscovered opportunities for synergy among companies, customers and members of the community.
The closing statement before he departed on his flight back to New York …
“Chris, always remember that compensation comes in many forms, it’s not all about dollars.”
As someone who has grown from a start-up blogger to founding a media company, I’ve walked long miles with this conversation in my head. By not always seeking ROI at every intersection, I’ve built friendships and relationships that have consistently led to unimagined opportunities.
During these past few years as social media has continued to evolve and strengthen, I have had the privilege of interviewing some of the most influential CEOs within the Outdoor Industry. With like minded consistency, these CEOs see beyond quarterly profit calculations.
Jeff Paro, CEO – InterMedia Outdoors: www.imoutdoorsmedia.com
“Social media is all about making connections and for the 50-million plus sportsmen we engage at InterMedia Outdoors.
Social media is the virtual campfire around which we can gather every day to share our favorite stories, photos, tips and experiences.”
Rick Elder, CEO – Smith Elite: www.elite.smithoptics.com
“I have found social networking to be a startlingly effective brand magnifier. If done correctly, the return on investment is found in both depth and breadth.
The depth of the experience is limited only to the imagination and is enriched by the communities that it touches.
The breadth is limitless as this medium becomes the community nexus of current and upcoming generations.”
Lou Reilly, CEO – Gamo Outdoor USA: www.gamooutdoorusa.com
”We use social media primarily as a tool to continue an ongoing dialogue with our consumers and brand awareness of our new exciting products of all our portfolio brands of products.
We are very flattered when we receive posts on our social media sites about of how our consumers use our products and spend hours of enjoyable time using our products.
Social media allows us to bring our Gamo Outdoor teams closer to our consumers.”
Gavin Harvey, CEO – Sportsman Channel: www.thesportsmanchannel.com
“Sportsman Channel is more than a TV network, it is a movement. Social media fuels the spread of our message among enthusiasts and is essential to our growth.”
Brad Gebhard, CEO – Magnum USA: www.magnumboots.com/us
“Taking care of our customers is at the forefront of everything we do. We recognize that more and more consumers are using different channels to connect with each other, and voice their unfiltered opinions about product experiences.
Inside of relying solely on traditional means of advertising and outreach, which primarily is a one-way street, we’re using social media to not only connect with our end users, but to generate two-way conversations.
We want to learn more about who they are, what they’re using our products for and how we can continue to build better products based on their feedback.
In this day and age, more and more consumers are turning to each other to find opinions on products and service, and we’re committed to providing the online forums for our consumers to connect with each other.”
In addition to meeting industry leaders, having a social media mindset to think beyond ROI, has led me to become more involved with community activities. Through social media, I have become involved with promoting Higher Ground – a wonderful Sun Valley based organization which focuses on helping our military veterans heal through outdoor recreational therapy.
These are simple but powerful examples of how social media has brought to me increased connections, deeper meaning and ultimately a richer life.
I acknowledge with full head and heart on a daily basis that social media is truly part art and part science. It is part fact and part faith. It’s a windy, miraculous journey to say the least.
Social media’s growth, at its purest level, is the best concrete proof that we are all connected on many levels as both humans and as consumers. To find the real wealth in life – all we have to do is continue to reach out to others in as many forms and fashions as possible.
Bulls & Beavers LLC. ,Copyright 2012
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