Few topics generate as many deer-in-headlights looks from marketers as social media ROI. It’s hard to know what to measure and it’s tricky to tie social media efforts directly to business results. A recent survey from the Chartered Institute of Marketers showed that very few marketers can measure the effectiveness of social media. Nearly a third describe social media as not at all effective.
Some marketers challenge the very idea of measuring social media ROI as antiquated, similar to asking the ROI of having telephones in the office.
Yet social media won’t be taken seriously by finance directors as long as the answer is to dodge the question.
I liked this distinction from Hal Thomas in a recent Mashable article: “Social media is the vehicle, not the destination. You can’t just ask, ‘What’s the ROI of social media?’ You have to ask, ‘What’s the ROI of specific activities that we engage in via social media?”
A good place to start thinking about the ROI of specific social media activities is Olivier Blanchard’s comprehensive book, Social Media ROI. Olivier follows a philosophy that “ROI is 100% media-agnostic” and shows how to draw conclusions from the social media metrics that are there.
“Forgetting to tie the easy numbers to something of substance can send your program down the wrong measurement path. Measurement, analysis, and reporting therefore require context: A single metric, taken at random, is as relevant or worthless as one chooses to make it. But as part of a greater whole, supported by a plethora of data points telling their piece of a bigger story, that piece of data can be meaningful and find its true value.”
I’m interested to hear how you think about ROI for social media programs.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)