Happy New Year to everyone! Like most, I use the holidays to self reflect, personally and professionally, about what I want to change or improve. From a marketing standpoint, one of my goals for 2010 is to understand social media’s business benefits. It’s been about 6 months since members of my marketing team in India strongly suggested that I spend more time on social media channels for MindTree. I did so reluctantly, but with both eyes wide open. Some of my new responsibilities came easy-like this blog-because I like to write. LinkedIn also comes naturally because I enjoy interacting and “meeting” like-minded professionals. Other social media responsibilities however, like Twitter or YouTube, have not been as easy for me to embrace. Being from New Jersey, cynicism is engrained in my DNA and I often ask myself why anyone would care enough about what I’m thinking or doing to follow me on Twitter @MindTreeCMO. Although I “tweet” mostly about marketing and MindTree, my team has encouraged me to show a personal side, so I do sprinkle in thoughts about my children, girlfriend and my marathon training. I am happy to report that I have successfully stayed away from letting my followers know about the absurd or mundane-like what I had for lunch or what toothpaste I use.
But as we begin a new year, I am still waiting to see business benefit from my effort on these social media channels. Microsoft and Google, as reported on BusinessWeek online are paying $25 million to Twitter, allowing the social media company to actually turn a small profit in 2009. With 50 million Tweeters and 8 billion posts last year, there is a ton of data that these two technology stalwarts are betting will help them segment and analyze (potential) customer behavior better for new revenue opportunities.
Some studies I have read, including a 2008 study conducted in Britain, concluded that US and American executives spend more than 12 hours a week logging into social media sites, reading and contributing to the conversation. That is more than 25% of the average person’s work week. As managers, how do we ensure that social media doesn’t become too big of a distraction for our teams (not to mention us) that it negatively impacts our “day job?”
Is social media a waste of time for business executives? Time will tell and I remain patient, optimistic and committed to the cause. But it sure would alleviate my apprehension to be able to tie a big deal to a lead that came through one of these channels.