A friend of mine is in the metals business. Over the last 20 years, his family business has done quite well primarily selling copper extracted from other scrap metals. Recently, he was telling me about a couple of significant investments they were making. One in enterprise software to better manage their business (in particular their inventory) and a new extraction machine that would expand their product offering and open new markets. Both appear to be great investments. My buddy is a smart, curious guy and is into technology (geek). He is without question, at a personal level, an early adopter: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, iphone, ipad etc. But, I was actually surprised the other day when I got an invite from him to connect via LinkedIn. He had never talked about LinkedIn so I called him to ask what was up. He said an important prospect wanted to connect and he didn’t want to be embarrassed with only 3 connections. He was taking his first step into B2B social media. He was making another “investment” (while not nearly as significant as a new software system and extraction machine) to move his business forward.
Every day we are making investments in our businesses. For me, the most crucial investment decisions are time, money and people. How important are investments in social media? I read the articles that profess the benefits but I’m in trial mode. I sit here writing, tweeting, linking, commenting, and answering. Are you doing the same? Social Small Biz tweeted yesterday that in their latest survey they found 50% of B2B marketers don’t blog and 49% don’t use Twitter. My gut tells me that if you have identified the right audience these tools can be worthy of the investment and the folks surveyed are behind the curve. But, you have to be persistent, disciplined and analytical (so you can understand ROI). And, like any investment, you may not see an immediate return.
My buddy has 19 LinkedIn connections now. I have yet to hear if this “investment” made a positive impression on the prospect. They are likely to be more impressed with the new extraction machine.