I constantly struggle with this issue in my experience with social media marketing. While the crowd (mostly social media marketing types) I hang with is gung-ho, full steam ahead, our target market for social media marketing, that is, businesses that could really benefit – are failing to recognize and achieve the potential that we all see hanging in front of us. So let’s explore why there is such a wide gap between how marketers view social media and what business leaders perceive as a reasonable return on investment.

For this week’s post, I figured I’d set up a debate with two opposites perspectives. And, in the interest of disclosure, allow me to say this: even as a fan of the theoretical value of social media for business, I am not sold on the practical value it proves to leaders who we rely on to embrace and promote it.

One definition of potential is “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.” How better to describe the gap that exists between the realized value of social media as it exists today and the possibilities of the future!

First, take a look at a retail automotive sales manager’s perspective in this New York Times article titled “The Gap Between Auto Dealers and Social Media.” This article highlights one of the really big gaps between potential and reality: Big brands (with big budgets) have bought-in to social media, but they can afford it. Right? Consider this, direct from the article:

“Matt Howell, the general manager of a Hyundai dealership in Huntsville, Tex., has been in the auto business for 18 years. In all that time, he said, “I can think of one deal that originated on Facebook.”

Interesting, huh?

Now, at the other end of the spectrum (sort of) consider the blog post by Andrew Hutchinson published on currati.com. In it, Andrew asserts that social media, or, specifically, the data that arises from social media users, is the raw material for our insight into human behavior that will change how we market. Wow! Check it out:

“What we do know is data. That which is happening is trackable, traceable, laid-out and accessible to anyone who cares to look. Used well, this can provide your business with a level of insight you’d never have even considered.

And that is good for business!” – Andrew Hutchinson

So, why is there a gap between leaders’ and marketers’ perception of social media in business today? Let’s discuss and debate.

Q1) How do you perceive the gap between potential and reality in adoption of social media by business?

Q2) We’ve come some way on the issue of ROI of social media. Right now, what is social media’s value proposition?

Q3) If it’s not affecting the bottom line (revenues/profits) is there any hope for social marketing in small business?

Q4) Where does the disconnect between social marketing’s potential and bottom-line value come from?

Q5) Is social media destined to become an advertising platform for business?

Definition of ‘potential’ courtesy of Google: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS592US593&ion=1&espv=2&es_th=1&ie=UTF-8#q=potential&es_th=1

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