It happens all of the time. Regardless of the group, association or company that is asking to either meet for business development or a speaking opportunity - every group wants to know if I can create an equation that defines the ROI of social media. It's awkward enough going down the path of trying to define "social media" versus a strategic online environment with a complimentary marketing campaign.
Let's trade. I'll give you the ROI of social media, if you can return back the ROI on trust. Fair deal?
I was just reflecting on PodCamp Toronto and the session by In Over Your Head and Listen To Your Kids host, Julien Smith, who along with PodCamp co-Founder and Network2 community developer, Chris Brogan, presented: Trust Economies - What They Are And How To Be A Part of Them. It was one of those presentations that has nothing to do with becoming a better Podcaster, but at the same time has everything to do with it.
Here's the crux of it: if you're not building community based on trust - providing value, being open and transparent and giving equal voice to all, your Podcast (or community... or brand) won't last all that long in this day and age where we are all connected.
It's deep. It's powerful. It's true. It also takes a lot of time to develop - and that's where Marketers get scared off. It's not something that can happen in a quarter. Truth is it can happen faster or it can take years to build.
Maybe the equation is simpler than any of us thought? Could be it be as simple as:
Trust + Community = ROI?
There are some strategic calculations that need to take place at a micro level for this macro thought to take effect. I'm not naïve. I understand. But there is a philosophical thought here: if you're worried about pushing product and not about building your community, your brand lifespan is going to be dramatically affected.
ROI is Return On Investment. How much are you willing to invest in building a trusted economy and community around your brand, product and services?