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

November 17th, 2008

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.”

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Entry Filed under: Management Issues

  • Mary

    Eventually, this can lead to increased page-views (likely) or some new subscriptions (less likely, but hey). And we know there's money in that.

  • Kathryn Jennex

    simple, concise and well done thanks – good points and good answers to real questions we've all heard.

  • Robert Quigley

    Thanks Kathryn! Yes, this question does come up now and then ;)

  • Robert Quigley

    Yes, it is true that social media can lead to increased page views. I've seen it happen.

    I try to avoid that argument with bosses, though, because then they start watching the page-view numbers even more carefully and expect to see an immediate increase in page views. These things take time to build. The best thing to do: when you see an increase, trumpet it.

  • Stephanie

    I was talking to a coworker about this very thing right before I read this post. Weird! I love these responses because they're 1) True and 2) In the language that money people “get.” Thanks for the post.

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  • product testing services

    Fantastic presentation. True, you could make money out of your social media “island”, but of course that depends with a lot of factors. What's even better is that it strengthens you intellectually, through getting active and socializing with lots of like-minded people.

  • Miami SEO

    I do remember that IBM commercial. Social media is really awesome.

  • built in gas grills

    It looks funny but we can make money from social media this is for sure.
    Hi Robert great going thanks for the article.

  • lean automation

    LOL the avatar don't know how to spend virtual money every time I see this commercial i just cant stop myself from laughing.

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