What maritime traders taught us about social media
Imagine putting a large sum of money on a ship and then watching the ship disappear into the horizon unsure of when or even if it would return. This was life for many in the few hundred years leading up to the 20th century.
The Act for the Registration of British Vessels in 1845 decreed that ships be divided into 64 shares. Thus, if you were an investor, you could purchase up to 64 shares of any one ship. It was even possible to invest in a single share and any percentage in between. Which many did, staking claim to a portion or all of the ship’s payload upon return and the profits it might yield. Then investors would literally go about the business of “waiting for their ship to come in.”
These days the phrase “waiting for my ship to come in” has evolved into a metaphor people use in anticipation or hopes of financial gain. Not surprisingly, a great number of people will use the metaphor, even without having sent one proverbial ship out to sea.
This is especially true among more recent adopters of new media, particularly social media. People tend to judge these channels by what they can get out of them. However, if you think about social media in light of maritime ship ventures, a few lessons stand out immediately.
You get out what you put in - Those who enjoy social media ROI aren’t people who lucked out and stumbled upon the right crowd with the right message at the right time. They are people who invested the time and resources necessary to cultivate and activate their core customers.
Enjoy the Journey - Social media is not a direct response channel. Nor is it part of a sales funnel. It is a place to humanize your brand. It’s an environment where people can rally around ideas and share in a social mission. It’s a place to establish and maintain a meaningful, long-term relationship.
Focus on value - ROI doesn’t always reveal itself in dollars. In social media, ROI comes in the form of valuables suchs as likes, shares, comments and retweets. All of which are indicators of brand strength and consumer purchase likelihood.
To be successful in social media, you must be proactive and open to new ways of thinking about what it means to interact with customers. And, without dedicating time and resources to the development of social media channels, one might find themselves forever waiting for their social media ship to come in.