A few weeks ago, I was booked for a return engagement at an event that I had spoken at last year. One of my assigned topics was “How Social Media Has Impacted Me Since Last Year’s Event.”
Just before I began, someone in the audience dug up the tired old charge about Social Media having no real ROI. I began my presentation by agreeing that it’s hard to calculate, but decided to let my own experience speak for itself. That look back follows.
Last year at this time, we had just wrapped up our Social Media University, a full day event dedicated to educating the market on Social Media. It was the largest event of its type in Milwaukee history and the first Milwaukee event sponsored by market newcomer Southwest Airlines. Best Buy, Time Warner and other major names also sponsored it. It sold out before the event to the tune of nearly 400 tickets (advertised almost exclusively via Social Media). Because it was such a market changer, the plan was to have another one. But its own success got in the way.
The event so impressed the marketing people who were in attendance from RegalWare that they moved their Web and interactive to Trivera. In addition to having Trivera develop the Social Media strategy for one of their new brands, they also had us redevelop their corporate Web site, and currently are working with us on a full brand rollout for a new division.
The word spread around the marketplace that we were credible Social Media guys, and two major political candidates hired us to develop the Social Media Strategies for their campaigns.
I was also invited to speak at the NonBox 2010 Winter Marketing Summit at the Eisner Museum as the area’s “Social Media Guru” (a term I hate because it makes me think I should be wearing saffron robes as a I speak). In the audience was the marketing team from Potawatomi Bingo Casino. As a result, a subsequent relationship developed on Twitter. That relationship shortly led to Trivera taking over the hosting for the entire Paysbig.com web presence and migrating it to a new Content Management System. We’ve been talking to them about their Social Media strategy, and once we get past a few other large web projects for them, that will be the next project on our plate.
Long time client Mitchell International Airport finally got on board and agreed to have us develop and help them execute their Social Media strategy, including Twitter, Facebook, brand monitoring and now Foursquare.
Our newfound visibility in the market in that arena also led to several other clients having us get them set up in Social Media. We’re not sure if it was our Social Media presence, the fact that we’ve been around for over 14 years or both, but a huge influx of new Web 1.0 business has also come our way, with over a dozen large projects working their way through our pipeline. We’ve had to hire new employees to help us handle a workload as large as we had during the dot-com boom.
Even though I had been writing articles for the Trivera website since 1997, I had never really called it a blog. But I jumped on the bandwagon and started triveraguy.com as my official blog. Shortly thereafter, my blogs started getting picked up by Social Media Today, and a recent one I wrote on Media, Social Media and the Milwaukee summer flood of 2010 got 5,200 page views, 400 retweets and remained on the homepage of that site as one of the top articles there for nearly a week.
But the coolest thing that happened came via a professor and guest panelist on Fox news and CNN who I got to know solely through Twitter. She’s become one of the few professional contacts I also am friends with on FaceBook. Late this Spring, after having gotten to know me and reading my blog, she asked me if I wanted to write a book. It turns out her agent was looking for someone to write a book about Social Media for a major publisher. He got me in touch with the publisher, and without going through all the twists and turns, last Friday I submitted my manuscript to Penguin Books for the first in their new series of e-books: “The Complete Idiot’s Mini Guide to Real-time Marketing using Foursquare,” to be released on Amazon and B&N later this year.
So, what has been the ROI over the past year on our use of Social Media? I haven’t a clue. But it’s like my friend Augie Ray says”: “There’s an ROI on wearing pants. I can’t calculate it, but I know it’s a whole lot higher when I wear them to work than if I don’t.”