WHAT IS A FRIEND WORTH? $136.38 ON AVERAGE.
In the early days of any new technology or industry, when its potential benefits still seem limitless, there will appear entrepreneurial individuals who will seek to profit as well as innovate. Or perhaps instead of innovate. But an entire industry should not be tarred with the same brush as its exploiters. As one who truly believes that a proper understanding and utilization of social media is not just important but vital to all business today, it dismays me to see the perception of social media as snake oil, and of those in the social media field as carpetbaggers and charlatans. Sure, there is no magic in social media, but there doesn’t need to be. While its value may be hard to quantify in terms of ROI, the same can be said of all public relations, and even of reputation, though all would agree that reputation is beyond value and does have real impact on the bottom line. One can always trot out success stories: Blendtec reported that its "Will It Blend?"YouTube campaign was directly responsible for a “five fold” increase in their business; Dell computers reported $1M in sales over an 18 month period from Twitter sales alerts, et cetera. But a few outstanding anomalies do not a business model make, I admit. I suppose the very smart folks at Syncapse likewise got tired of defending social media and sought to quantify its value at long last. The result of their research: The average dollar value of a “friend” on Facebook is $136.38. I find that both informative and hilarious for some reason. Check out the method behind this finding here. Whether you accept Syncapse’s findings or not, whether you accept Dell or Blendtec’s assertions that their successes were attributable to social media campaigns, just know that hard data and real understanding will follow the magic, just as surely as realistic business models emerge from bursting bubbles, just as surely as hard work follows honeymoons.