The Personal ROI of Social Media
February 15, 2009 16 Comments
We do a lot of talking about the business ROI of social media, and rightly so. However, I’d like to toss out a few thoughts about how, in my case, social media brings personal benefits. Personal ROI.
I’ve been actively networking via social media for almost 3 years – have used LinkedIn longer than that, but I’ll pin the “real” social media involvement with blogging beginning in mid-2006.
In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to meet (virtually, and increasingly in real life) many fine people. I’ve sought to build opportunity networks. But I think the biggest benefit of all is that this community networking is helping me become a better person.
Has it helped my writing skills? Yes. Has it helped my business? Yes. But what I really appreciate is that I am learning to associate, value, learn from, and serve a broad variety of people with whom I probably otherwise would not have associated.
Through bloggging and Twittering, I have “pre-met” a vast array of people who have shared interests in marketing, branding, social media, pharma, and other aspects of life. By having initial contact in the safe zone of social media, a shared sympathy has been built up, irrespective of any borders of geography, race, background, and political leanings. Then, when I finally meet these fine folks, I view them, not through the grid of my standard templates of “like me”, but simply as individuals – many of whom aren’t like me at all. Fact is, a number of the acquaintances and friends I’ve gained through this type of networking are folks I would not have gravitated toward at all in a room full of folks. And that’s a good thing.
Which means I’m growing in tolerance. And by that, I mean looking beyond the superficial or the similarities and learning to value people for who they are. Tolerance actually is a pretty narrow term, and filled with the idea of compulsion. So what I’m growing in is acceptance. How do you put an ROI value on that?
Recently, I made a business visit to Richmond, VA. There, I hung out with a friend (Doug Meacham) who came to be an associate through social media. On a recent visit to my wife’s family in Connecticut, I enjoyed a lively coffee visit and discussion with Joe Cascio, whom I had “pre-met” through Twitter. Joe and I are very different in political outlook – but it didn’t matter. Our friendship grew significantly in that hour together. And, at a pharma conference last week, I got to meet some fellow social media types, some for the first time, others for a second or third – but all because of Twitter and blogging. It was awesome, and I’m the richer for it.
Yes, marketers do have to get around to the ROI question in time. But there’s another ROI at work. Our investment in getting to know one another has the potential to make us better human beings. It allows us to make new friends. It opens up opportunities. And frankly, that’s worth a lot of time and effort. Which I fully intend to continue investing.