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I was sitting in a café today, sipping my chai latte and waiting for two potential clients/partners to come along. Table next to me, two men in business suits, talking about something.. Suddenly they said the magic words (exactly, social media, how did you know) and my brain unconsciously tuned in to their conversation. The exact sentence was: “how can they possibly help us with social media if they don’t even know how to use it themselves, hardly 100 followers on Twitter and 14 on their FB page”. At which point my brain detuned in despair.

Ok, I must confess I’m particularly happy if I can stay away from numbers. However what is this need to quantify everything, why are we always thinking in numbers when numbers are just not enough? It’s about intangibles values, it’s about strategic thinking. And it’s not a social media strategy, it’s a business strategy in which Social Media are incorporated. A strategy that aims to improve engagement and trust, rather than immediate return on investment. Engagement and trust can last for ever, money can always (and too easily) run out.

The most interesting people I met through social media are people like the ones I just left today. Oh yes, their numbers: followed by 58 people, following 101 because they “take the time to listen to them all”. And I “sacrificed” 5 potential new “tweeple” and one new follower (this is the ratio roughly) to take the time to meet two of my tweeple in person and discuss an idea with them.

Sustainable is the new profitable. And – guess what – it doesn’t do numbers.

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