2009 The Year of The Conversation

In economics class I learned, retained, and regurgitated the concept of opportunity cost. Everything has a value and cost associated with it regardless of it’s monetary value. What’s the cost associated with that free sofa you saw on Craigslist?

Cost = gas + travel time + time schlepping the sofa in and out of the car

Nothing is free and therefore nothing comes without an attached value.

Since the start of the year, social media has slowly brewed to a boiling point. Google Trends shows the continual increase of search popularity for the term social media.

There are plenty of major brands engaging in social media, but will it become mainstream? Stuntdubl.com wrote a great post on 9 reasons you need social media marketing in 2009 while Junta42.com also ran a post covering an additional 42 social media predictions in 2009. If you’re looking for a different twist take a look at the cost of not entering social media.

So now you’re equipped with 51 predictions and reasons 2009 is the year you need to engage in social media. Now comes the magical question: What is it going to cost?

If you analyze solely monetary costs their is the potential social media would be free. Unfortunately, as we discussed above there is an opportunity cost to everything. Time will be the biggest cost when it comes to engaging in social media. For those that use Twitter or heard of Twitter I would suggest checking out Tweetwasters. The concept speaks to our time constraint which ultimately will be our cost for engaging in social media. If we examine the use of some of the most popular marketers like Guy Kawasaki, Aaron Wall, and Robert Scoble we see that they’ve spent a combined 15.3 days equating to 44,064 total tweets! This is simply counting their use of one social media tool. Multiple this by a blog and a Facebook page and you’re looking at a significant amount of time. Your work day probably isn’t set up so you can spend it entirely on interacting and responding with social media.

Now that you’re scared and beginning to think those 51 predictions were paid off so Facebook or Twitter could create an IPO, lets take a look at the value you would be gaining from engaging in social media. Again we’ll use Twitter for our example because of its extremely viral nature. A perfect example is the story about Shaquille O’neal using Twitter. Though Shaq had the help of mainstream media he was able to go from 40 followers to 1,131 followers in only a days time! The power of Twitter lies in the replies (@) and retweets (rt) to help propel your message forward.

If you have 100 followers and 20 of your followers reply or retweet your message then their followers will see your message. If each one of these users has 100 unique followers, and they get an additional 5 people to reply or retweet to their 100 unique followers, you can begin to see how powerful Twitter can be:

(100 F * 20 F) + (20 F * 100 F) + (5 F * 100 F) = 4,500 viewers

The viral nature of Twitter could make cause all of this to happen within a matter of minutes. Lets break this down even further so we can make a direct comparison to the amount of time spent we calculated earlier.

If you converted a conservative 1% of the time with your tweets, meaning 1% of the time you hit the jackpot with 4,500 viewers, and then replicate this over the amount of time Guy, Arron, and Robert have spent on Twitter you can see why they use social media tools.

44,064 Tweets * 1% = 440 Tweets * 4,500 Viewers = 1,980,000 viewers in 15.3 days

This would mean in a month’s time you would be generating close to 4 million visitors a month to your site simply by having three powerful connections. This would put you comfortably in the top 300 for monthly traffic according to Quantcast.

While these numbers are subjective, and not guaranteed, I think we call all see that the value gained from engaging in social media.

Value > Opportunity Cost

So maybe the experts and trends are right after all?

In the Chinese culture 2009 is the year of the Ox, but when all things are said and done 2009 will be remembered as the year of the conversation.

5 thoughts on “2009 The Year of The Conversation

  1. Very fun look at the power of sharing with people using tools like Twitter. Twitter is certainly a great case study here, but I’d say there are values beyond numbers….well, because I’m not a big numbers guy (sometimes my Achilles heel).

    In Flickr, I’ve been able to connect with people in Italy. Photos I’ve posted there then embedded in my blog have become a source for Google searchers who want to learn more about a place I visited in the southern region of Puglia. This combo has introduced me to new friends and even families who have shared a magical “thank you!”

    Just today, I got a comment from author James Mapes on my personal blog. It’s Christmas Eve…and somehow Google decided to send James an alert with a link to my BookStack blog post from last year! I got the magic of reading a personal note directed to me, but shared publicaly for anyone to see if they visit my blog — or search Google for James Mapes.

    I love the math, and we need these case studies to encourage top brass at companies to put more resources online — if it makes sense and helps the company remain viable.

    If 2009 is the year of conversation, then along with that will come a better understanding of “the value” of these conversations both with regard to analytics…and the magical “wow” factor that comes from human interaction.

  2. Hey Jesse, I would actually beg to differ on this, I think we’ve focuses way too much on conversation ever since the Cluetrain announced that “markets are conversations”. I think “markets are where value is exchanged”, the conversation is the ‘social lubricant’, the negotiation if you will, but the conversation is a means to an end, not the end itself.

    Take a look at my prediction/imperative for 2009 here:

    If you are taking an economics class then you will enjoy the concept that I propose in that post.


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