Is Social Media Worth It?

A huge deal in the business world, particularly with regards to marketing, is the ROI, or return on investment. It shows that your time, money, and efforts are actually gaining you something. Usually, and unfortunately, this is usually measured in financial terms: in dollars and cents.

However, in this new economy, there are other investments besides your financial capital. There are therefore other returns on your investments that, while not financial in nature, are just as important.

Here are some categories of investment that aren’t financial, but are definitely worth your time, effort, and yes, your money.

Social Capital

Social capital is not a new concept, but is rapidly gaining more traction as an important phrase when talking about ROI in the world of new media. Social capital are basically assets in the form of connections and networks. It’s not always what you know or what you can pay,  sometimes it truly is who you know. In this burgeoning creativity and information based economy, with the speed of business and the cheaper costs of education, who you know is becoming the dividing factor between the good and the great. Often times, the amount of knowledge between two people or firms is equal. What separates the two is who they know, now what they know.

For the smarterbiz, social networks provide tools to both create new and leverage existing social capital, whether in the form of conversations with potential customers or interactions with a long-standing client. These processes, over time, create social capital which is priceless in terms of word-of-mouth marketing and influence within a given community. Which brings us to the next type of non-financial capital, cultural capital.

Cultural Capital

Cultural capital are assets in the form of an atmosphere provided. While this may not seem to be vitally important at first, when the market is saturated with similar firms to yours, even the little things count. When a potential client walks into your office or job site, they have pre-formed expectations that they are expecting you to meet. If you fall short of those expectations either from a first impression or subsequent interactions, you have diminished your cultural capital with that particular client. So how does social media assist with this?

When using social media as a smarterbiz, it allows you to shape and mold the expectations formed in the potential client’s mind, before they even walk in the door. This is a huge privilege! While you don’t have ultimate control, giving your potential audience an idea of who you are before they walk in the door is a great advantage to have. This cultural capital should not be abused nor neglected, because it is one of the rare types of assets that are self-regulating.

Human Capital

Closely related to social capital, human capital deals not in connections and networks, but flesh and blood people. Social media deals with information exchanges and entire networks, whereas human capital brings people to your firm in the form of employees, subcontractors, and clients who will vouch for your service, which are basically unpaid sales people. As a smarterbiz, human capital is invaluable because it only makes your company/firm more influential and increases the talent pool from which you have to draw.

The smarterbiz uses social media to sort through the potential talent pool, and handpick candidates that fit both the culture and needs of the company. Social media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, and even Facebook are viable places to find talented people to increase the amount of human capital for your business. It requires little effort, often no cash, and a medium amount of time to find a person who can greatly increase the success and influence of your business.

When examining these forms of capital in terms of initial investment required compared to the potential “payout”, the need and worth of social media becomes evident. Financial ROI aside, one of the greatest things you can do as a company is to realize both the need and value of social media, and then to dive right in to begin your investment in social, cultural, and human capital.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Derek Brown, Smarter Biz. Smarter Biz said: Is Social Media Worth It? #smarterbiz #greenvillenc [...]

  2. [...] gains and our market impact. This isn’t always doable in the way that we want because of the different types of capital in social media. There are some ways to measure our influence, however, particularly on Twitter. Here are some of [...]

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