Professional Dancers Must Pay the Piper

The Tango

Watch an organization successfully strike the balance between community and return on investment. The artful dance between fantastic people skills and good business sense demonstrates strong professional competence. The two needs intertwine in irrevocable necessity. Organizations need community, and they need to create results from their online efforts.

This duopoly can be summed up in two statements: 1) To build community without outcomes doesn’t make any business sense. 2) To expect any outcomes without building relationships can also be deemed as poor business skills, regardless of medium (and in real life, too).

Let’s handle the second statement first since it represents the cry of the social media purist for conversations and no ROI. Bad business via lousy relationship skills has gone on well before social media. This isn’t new, it’s just the reality of competitive markets. Winners get it, losers don’t. Conversational media just adds a microscope to this issue, and at a minimum has forced widespread minor changes across the business and nonprofit communities as they experiment.

Moving back to the first statement, to cry wolf because organizations want outcomes seems utterly ridiculous. People that lament they’ll never “get it” or who say that organizations are dinosaurs for asking how this impacts their organization lack professional sense. How can anyone be taken seriously if they expect organizations to invest resources for extended periods of time and not achieve outcomes?

It’s reminiscent of a teenager screaming for designer jeans without understanding the financial needs of a house, college fund, retirement, etc. A business or nonprofit cannot exist without sales or donations and civil actions, respectively! Try explaining that to the purist. What they end up doing is blogging about how business sucks, and rallying sycophants that cry me, too. But like the teen without his/her jeans, the purist loses business to real online professionals and established communications industry players who are adopting.

This juvenile attitude has been heard for years now, and organizations are responding with increased negativity. Further, the lampooning of social media purists has reached new levels with recent articles like the Telegraph’s Ditch the Blood Sucking Social Media Gurus or this Roast of Social Media HD video. And rightly so.

It really comes down to this, if you want to be a professional online communicator, you have to deliver results. You can’t expect to dance for long without paying the piper.