However, the question begs another for clarification: in which industry would these tactics be compared?
Actually, both tactics (face-to-face networking and social media) can work, depending on the variables.
Consider the following:
1. If the five hours of networking is done in one room with 200 people,it can probably be very effective. Your maximum exposure is, of course,200 people. However, your realistic exposure is probably going to be a maximum of 6 good relationship-building discussions per hour; a total of 30 good contacts.
2. If the five hours of networking is spread out to 5 days, one hour per day, and I use the telephone, I’m still going to be maxed out at about 6 good conversations per hour.
3. Now, if I attend 5 different networking meetings, each lasting one hour, all in different areas of town and/or different target groups, the potential to reach out beyond these groups (references, announcements,newsletter/email mentions) is great. My maximum exposure in this venue could be 50 or so per meeting, depending on how it is run. (Note: Travel time in this example is not included!)
4. Let’s move on to social networking. If I spend 5 hours on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, texting, or any other combination of electronic communications, my maximum exposure will be much higher than with examples 1-3. What am I going to need to carry it out? Well, if I do Twitter at 120 characters per tweet for 5 hours (which realistically can span over several days/weeks), I’m going to need a lot of concise,relevant, meaningful information. Maybe it’s daily mentions of your blog. If you are in retail, it could be a daily special. Of course,the industry/product will make the difference. If I’m a life insurance agent, I’m going to need to be really creative. A community bank can post community events.
So which brings more business? Again, it would seem to depend on the industry/product. Certainly I can reach more people with social networking, but I can build closer relationships with face-to-face.
Like other marketing tactics, you can always do both. Once you’ve had aface-to-face, add them to your social network. The one key to socialnetworking is relevancy and purpose. You want to send information thathas meaning for your target, rather than me-too-tweets.
Good Marketing To You!