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Thursday, December 13, 2012

The ROI on pant-wearing and other social media tips


With many things in life, there is a payoff for doing them.  Do the dishes and the kitchen is cleaner, your household is more functional, and hopefully one or more family members notice and appreciate you for it.

For other things, however,  the people around you have such high expectations you'll do them that you only lose points if you don't but gain very little if you do.  For you, this may be true of the dishes.  Certainly I've always maintained this is true for Valentine's Day.  Get flowers and you simply maintain the relationship's status quo; fail to do anything and you lose big points fast.  

Similarly, at some point certain things become so ubiquitous that they are expected as a baseline.  This is true of putting on your pants.

The global head of social media for Ford Motor Company, Scott Monty, once asked, "What's the ROI* of putting your pants on in the morning?".   The truth is that there is very little benefit to putting on your pants other than to avoid the significant cost of not doing so.

Certainly this is true now of having a website or an email address for your company.  Unlike a couple decades ago, no company gets kudos for having a website or email addresses but it would certainly raise eyebrows of criticism if your company failed to have them.

Arguably social media participation is not quite there yet but it is, I submit, fast approaching.  Someday in the not-too-distant future you will receive the cringe of shame if your company is not active in the leading social media platforms of the day.  Today - for companies - these are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  This will be true irrespective of whether yours is a B2B or B2C company.

Recently I was invited to write an article for Future Medicine's special issue for the World Stem Cell Report.  I was asked to make the case for why and how participating in social media stood to benefit the scientists, companies, executives, employees, academics, activists, and other stakeholders in the cell therapy industry.  

The result is "Why the stem cell sector must engage with social media".  What I attempted to succinctly outline are the ways social media primarily benefit one's career and organization or company.

"I can tell you without the slightest hesitation of conviction – having experienced it myself and seen it repeated countless times – is that active and successful social media engagement translates into:

  • Unparalleled learning: accessing more information relevant to your discipline, specialty and company than you otherwise will. 
  • Enhanced profile: higher profile within your industry, profession, specialty and community. Social media is not the only way to build a profile but it can be very effective.
  • Wider network: more touch points and meaningful relationships with people than you otherwise will accomplish by any other means combined."
The measurable impacts and benefits are real and certainly include:
  • Traffic: "For companies, increased traffic equals increased opportunity to call readers/viewers to your intended action – interaction, citation, linking, investing, buying or engaging in some other action you solicit. For individual professionals, increased viewers translate into more chances for collaboration, citation, engagement, etc."
  • Collaboration: "There is an intrinsic correlation between one’s profile and the opportunities one has for collaboration. For companies this means finding the right partnerships, joint ventures, strategic alliances, collaborators, employees, management and so on. For individual professionals, this means more and/or better quality invites to speak, write or collaborate in other ways. It also means finding quality grad students, faculty, employees and interns
  • Revenue/IncomeThis is about translating a broader knowledge base and a wider network over which you have some level of influence (if only just that they are listening) into more money for your company, organization and yourself. For companies, this means finding the right partners, investors, customers and so on. For organizations this means finding the right donors, impressing the right grant reviewers and/or recruiting the right rain-maker faculty. For individual professionals this translates into promotions or job offers."
As I conclude my article I will conclude here:
"In order to create the kinds of perceptions and solicit the kinds of actions we want from the world around us, we must engage the world around us. The world around us is engaging online. 
For all kinds of selfish and selfless reasons you, your company or organization and your career will benefit from you engaging there too."
and this prediction:
" less than the blink it took for the commercial world to accept websites and email, it will seem similarly ridiculous for professionals, academics and companies to operate and succeed without actively using social media."

If this topic is of interest to you, here are some great resources particularly focused on the value of social media to those in life sciences.

Canaday, M. Is Life Science Social Media Worth It Yet? Three Tenets Behind Its Relevance To Your Business. Comprendia. 6 December 2012. 

Bersenev A. Scientific blogging as a model for professional networking online. Cellular Therapy and Transplantation. 2010;2(7). 10.3205/ctt-2010-en-000084.01. 

Bersenev, A. Scientific blogging as a model for professional networking online. 4 August 2010. 

Bersenev, A. Who’s Who in the Stem Cell Blogosophere.  27 June 2011. 

Bishop, D.  How to bury your academic writing. Bishop’s Blog. 26 August 2012. 

Buckler, L. If You’re Breathing, You’re in PR. Cell Therapy Blog. 11 June 2010.  

Buckler, L. Don’t feel the pain of ignoring social media? Just wait a minute…. 22 October 2008.    

Jewell, T. Survey: How our scientists use social media. 12 February 2012. 

Knoepfer, P. Top ten tips for blogging for scientists. 2 August 2012.   

Shipman, M. Why Scientists Should Publicize Their Findings – for Purely Selfish Reasons. Scientific America. Blog. 18 June 2012. 
Shipman, M. A gentle introduction to Twitter for the apprehensive academic. Scientific America. Blog.  14 June 2011.  

Small, G. Time to Tweet. Nature 2011. 479 141 2 November 2011 

Wilcox, C. Social Media for Scientists Part 1: It’s Our Job. Scientific American Blog. 27 September 2011.  

Wilcox, C. Social Media for Scientists Part 2: You Do Have time. Scientific American Blog. 29 September 2011.  

Wilcox, C. Social Media for Scientists Part 3: Win-Win. Scientific American Blog. 10 October 2011.  

Wilcox, C. Guest Editorial: It’s time to e-Volve. Taking Responsibility for Science Communication in a Digital Age. Biol Bull. 22285-87. (April 2012)  

The Rules of Social Media.  Fast Company.  8 August 2012. 

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