The value of opportunity

Hayley Squires, currently at the Royal Court Theatre with her first play was asked the other day about how she came to have her play put on at the theatre, specifically whether is was through involvement with the Young Writers Programme. She said:

I didn’t do the course, I saw a tweet for the Young Writers Festival and had completed a draft that I would’ve been happy to go into rehearsals with, so I sent it in for the festival to see what they said

See also:

That’s three examples of people who’ve received their first big opportunities in their chosen field and in each case social media played a part. Not the main part, of course – the story isn’t that these people were ‘good’ at Twitter or Reddit or Soundcloud or whatever and that’s what landed them the gig. The most important thing was that they:

  1. had put in the time and effort to become bloody good at something; and
  2. had the wherewithal (and were able) to act on an opportunity that was presented.

Social media deserves some attribution though. The question, for someone in my position, is how much? And that’s very tricky.

Measuring value

Y’see we’re getting to the point where, if you know your stuff and are willing/able to put in the effort, the value of social media for straightforward acquisition and transactions can be measured reasonably well. Not quite perfectly, and it depends on exactly what it is your doing and how you’re able to get around or accept the (many and various) limitations, but then the same could be said for most other things.

However, there are various areas of the big, messy social media landscape that don’t lend themselves quite so well to measurement. For instance, much as I’d dearly love to, it’s difficult to put a value on (let alone predict) the opportunities that might be thrown up by connections made via social media.

I think this may be one reason why it’s easier for organisations to give responsibility for social media to marketing teams (or sometimes customer services). From a day-to-day point of view, the budgets are easier to rationalise there.

This is why it’s important, when social media is looked after by one individual, department or 3rd party, that they’re able to spot what an opportunity might look like and pass it on to someone who might be able to take advantage of it. Otherwise that’s a whole heap of value that’s being missed.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.