I love a writer who not only writes well but also who inspires at the same time. For me, one such writer is Bob Hall. Mr. Hall is a printing industry veteran and every month he writes an insightful column that is published at the beginning of every Quick Printing magazine.
It just so happens, I picked up his magazine this morning, just as I was getting down.
With the beginning of every new year, the prognosticators come out in full force. This year, many forecasts have focused on social media, specifically how social media can or cannot help a business succeed in marketing. The entire concept of using Facebook or Twitter for marketing purposes is so new, no one is 100% certain what the long term gain might be, though some may think they know. A few experts are calling it a fad. Some are saying it’s a waste of time and resources. A big ol’ flash in the pan.
This month, Mr. Hall’s column focuses on past predictions from the experts of their time. Here are just a few the highlights:
- 1880: The lightbulb is a ‘conspicuous failure’
- 1897: Radio has no future
- 1904: Airplanes are interesting toys, but of no military value
- 1916: The cinema is little more than a fad
- 1936: A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere
- 1961: There is no chance satellites will be used to improve telephone service in the U.S.
- 1962: Transmissions of documents via phone lines (fax) is possible, but not practical
There are so many experts out there who have formed opinions about social media. Some of these experts believe there is no value for a company to get involved in Twitter or Facebook. These experts want hard numbers–sales figures and ROI–and without them right now, they say venturing into social media for a business is pointless and a waste of time.
Some experts have also been critical of events such as Twitter parties, Twitter chats and Tweetups. They question the value of such events, once again claiming that these are a waste of time and money for a company to get involved in.
My prediction: I believe social media is here to stay, not just to interact with family and friends but also with businesses. I also believe that a company that does not get its feet wet now will be scrambling to catch up later. I believe in the power of social media to help us better connect with people whether they are acting as a friend or a consumer. I believe in the power social media can give a company to help it open doors and start conversations that one day will ‘pay off’ down the road.
Will sending one tweet today get you a big sale tomorrow? Probably not. Will throwing one Twitter party next week instantly give you thousands of followers? I doubt it. But this is about relationship-building, about long-term engagement. Isn’t that what I learned about years ago in a class about traditional selling? That it was not about a quick, one-time sale but rather about developing a long-term relationship with the consumer?
I think one of the points of Mr. Hall’s column was that none of us really knows what the future holds for social media. We can make all of the predictions we want, listen to ‘the experts,’ try to be experts ourselves, but until those predictions are proven or not, we really don’t know. That’s why we at TweeParties will continue to forge ahead with our goal of providing companies with the tools they need–at a fair and reasonable price–to hold events on Twitter and inform all of those users who are interested of the who, what, where and when of these events the best we can. Maybe I am a fool and someday the joke will be on me. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I take all of the prognostications with a grain of salt. And I thank Mr. Hall for another dose of inspiration.