Archive for November 17th, 2008

Can you make ‘actual money’ on your social media island?

Do you remember this IBM commercial?

An employee is showing off his avatar on a “virtual life” island where he does virtual business. The catch is that his innovation doesn’t make any “real” profits. The boss, in avatar form, berates the employee by saying, “The point of innovation is to make actual money.” The employee sheepishly says, “My avatar doesn’t know how to do that.”

This commercial is funny, but if you’re pushing social media at your organization, you’ve likely had a serious conversation that follows that same theme. If you haven’t, it is coming soon. Your “island” might be your efforts to build a Facebook page, write a blog, get a Twitter presence going or build up credibility on Digg or Mixx.

You don’t want to sound foolish when that question comes up, so here are some answers you could use:

Question: “Making any money on your island?”

  • This effort is more about marketing our brand than a direct dollar-for-dollar payback. If we do this right, our brand is seen as a part of their lives. Besides, these social media tools are (generally) free. We have little to lose by trying.
  • If we don’t do this, then we risk becoming irrelevant. This is the way people are communicating at an increasing rate, and we are in the communications business.
  • This can be used for good customer service. Social media allows for us to respond to customers swiftly and effectively. It’s hard to measure the effect of good customer service, but it is easy to measure the effect of bad or nonexistent customer service.
  • It’s not about making money right now, but this just might make money in the long run. If we don’t plant our flag now and learn to do this the right way, we’ll be behind the curve.
  • We can reach an entirely new audience for our product. That’s the holy grail, isn’t it? With the economy the way it is, now is the time to try to reach out to new people.

Just don’t say, “My avatar doesn’t know how to do that.”

11 comments November 17th, 2008


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