To Social Media or Not To Social Media

With apologies to William Shakespeare…to social media or not to social media, that is the question.  Whether tis’ nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous tweeters or to bury my head in the sand and wait for this “social media fad” to blow over and by opposing, end them.

A business owner recently asked me if he and his company really needed to get involved in this “social media fad” or if it would blow over.  Blow Over?  A fad?   Like the PC blew over?  The Internet fad?  Websites?  The iPod.  iPhones?

What I told him is this — I look at social media as the next stage in our business communication evolution following business cards and websites.

The first business card allegedly appeared in France during the reign of Louis XIV in the 17th Century.  I’ll bet most of the guys in Louis’ court back then poo poo’d this crazy new thing as “le beezness card fad”.   “Why do I need to hand that guy a piece of parchment with my name on it?” they would have asked (in French, probably).  “I see the guy every day at court.   He knows who I am!   Besides, parchment is expensive.  Sacrebleu!   There’s no ROI.”    Even then, change was hard, but if Louis was for it, you best go along or you could lose your head.

The first website is commonly known to have been created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991.   Check out if you’re interested.    There doesn’t appear to be any clear documentation about when the first actual business website was launched, although Pizza Hut allegedly published the first ever e-commerce site in 1994.    Creating these first few business websites was scary, although it wasn’t quite as life and death as in 17th century France.  Even so, as I recall, most business owners at that time said something like “Why do I need a website?  Can’t I just hand the guy my business card? (chuckle, chuckle).  The Internet is so slow.  There’s no ROI.   It will never catch on.”

Linked In went live in 2003.    Facebook launched in 2004.   The first tweet…2006.   What are we hearing now?   “Why do I need this social media stuff?  It’s just a fad.  There’s no ROI.   I don’t need Social Media.   Customers will just go to my website to find me.”

I can’t wait to see what won’t have any ROI in 2015.  Sacrebleu indeed….