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12/21/2010 Is it (digital, social, marketing) worth it?

I just read a blog post encouraging the financial services industry to stay away from social media. The focus of the post was that social media was way too expensive and there was no proven ROI, so banks and credit unions should avoid it completely.

As I’ve written before: social media isn’t for everyone. But on the other hand a blanket rejection of it seems just as extreme as forcing it upon every business. The biggest problem I have with arguments like these (even though they do wonders for blog traffic and comments, see Mitch Joel’s post here) is that they provide convenient excuses to do nothing at all.

And the question is: is it better to do nothing, to do something or to do the right thing?

Nothing is always an option. Doing nothing won’t move you forward but it may not move you backwards (at least in the short term). In the long term, doing nothing will move you backwards, if for no other reason that everyone else is moving forward while you stay put.

Doing something is active, even if it’s not always correct. The challenge with something is doing too much of it without a plan, and not learning from it. Even if you don’t do the right thing, you can always learn positive or negative lessons by doing something. It should make you smarter the next time. If you look at something as a continuous test, you always win. Of course there are many instances of people and companies doing something that doesn’t work and then throwing their hands in the air while saying, “See, I told you we shouldn’t have done something!”

Doing the right thing requires careful planning, strategy, execution and measurement. Doing the right thing doesn’t need to be grand or expensive, it simply needs thinking before doing, and counting while doing. In one way or another, you always end up ahead when you do the right thing.

Saying that every company shouldn’t start grand, thoughtless, expensive social marketing campaigns is a non-starter. Why bother arguing with something like that? But as marketers in a changing consumer landscape, we need to adapt, learn and try, even if we fail. And the only way we do that is to do something.

I understand that some people are afraid of failure, change and risk. Most financial institutions, but not all, fit that description. It’s still not an excuse to ignore how people live and act today.



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