Subtract (Social Media) = More Sales, More Profit Part II


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In Part I of this series, I indicated it looked like our revenues had improved around the same time that we cut back almost completely on our social media involvement and participation. We know have a little more time under our “new regime”, so how have things been going since we stopped almost all personal involvement on social media platforms, including both reading and replying?

September as, in essence, the last month of our intense social media activity, while October, 2010 was the first social media free month. Our revenues, from September to October increased by about 35%, month to month, which also means our profits increased in similar proportions. Can we say this is a result of not participating in social media? In a way, yes, and in a way, no.

It’s All About Opportunity Costs

Everything you do in business has what’s called an “opportunity cost”. That refers to the cost of NOT doing something else as a result of doing what you did, if you can follow that. For example, active participation on social media takes time. That time could otherwise be used to do other things that might produce revenues and profits, but those things don’t get done because of the allocation of time to social media.

I’ve long believed that the major problems with social media have to do with a) an extremely low probability that involvement will be profitable for most businesses and b) the opportunity costs — the things that would be better done in comparison to social media.

Obviously, unless you do something terribly bad on social media, participation isn’t likely to cause lower revenues, BUT if you are NOT doing other important business things that would be more profitable, that’s where the hidden cost comes in.

If all you can think of to do to increase the revenues and profits of your business is to use social media, your problems are way more serious than you think.

Opportunity Costs Differ From Business To Business

It’s clear to me that our business revenues improved, at least in part because we did other, MORE EFFECTIVE things to drive revenue, relative to social media. By taking the time spent (let’s say about ten hours a week) and allocating it to other marketing and promotional efforts, we gained.

Will that apply to you? Only you can tell. If you lack creative or alternative marketing,  and communication approaches; if you have no idea what else to do with your time, then stopping the use of social media won’t help, because you won’t re-allocate your time better regardless. If you are a huge business and using only tiny resources for social media, there may not be social media opportunity costs.

However, if you are a small business, where time is your most scarce resource, then you need to look closely at whether other kinds of strategies will be better. And, of course, it will depend on the nature of your business.

Here are some important points to consider:

For some people, the time spent on social media doesn’t seem like work, so the magnitude of the time spent goes unnoticed. Start logging how much time you spend on social media, and you may be surprised just how much time you’ve been allocating to it.

Of course, opportunity costs can be out-weighed by increased profits from the use of social media, but don’t take those profits for granted. You need to measure them, if not precisely, at least generally. If you cannot find any evidence of sales resulting from social media activity, you are probably wasting your time. Don’t rationalize this by saying: “Well, it’s the long term that counts”, or something equally silly.

Keep in mind that even if you are seeing sales through social media, that you may be cannibalizing sales from other marketing channels. For example, the famous Dell story, on the surface, suggests that social media accounted for over six million in sales. Sounds good until you realize that those sales probably would have occurred anyway, if Dell had offered similar discounts in other channels.

Next time, we’ll talk about focus.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Bacal
Robert began his career as an educator and trainer at the age of twenty (which is over 30 years ago!), as a teaching assistant at Concordia University. Since then he as trained teachers for the college and high school level, taught at several universities and trained thousands of employees and managers in customer service, conflict management and performance appraisal and performance management skills.


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