Show me the money!

That’s the usual response when I talk to anyone from the C-Suite about social media. Especially directors of B2B companies.

Show me the money. Show me the ROI.

But they may as well ask for the ROI of the Internet, or the telephone, or the telegraph, or the railway, or the industrial revolution, or the printing press. These all had revolutionary effects on individuals, society and business. They changed the game completely.

The ROI for businesses when each of these revolutions occurred was to see the opportunities and grab them. I’m sure those who asked about the value or relevance of the telephone or the railroad or electricity came to rue the day.

Social media is another of these revolutionary events, but its different from anything that has come before. It represents the first uncertain steps in a social revolution that will have far-reaching effects at all levels of society. Mobile devices, apps, the ‘Internet of Things’ – all just steps along the path of ever-greater connectedness. Who knows where it will lead?

So, instead of asking “what is the ROI of social media?” we should be saying, “let’s get to grips with this quick and make use of it; let’s also scan the horizon for what may be next; let’s think NOW about how these changes might impact on our business”.

Asking about the ROI of social media could lead to the RIP of your business.