the ROI conundrum

These days almost everyone uses social media – from businesses to individuals and celebrities. While each platform offers its own unique benefits, a presence on all of them may not work for your particular organization. And just as each social network differs from the next, social media differs greatly from traditional tools as far as:

  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Post-campaign ROI analysis

One of the big hang-ups that company leaders often encounter is justifying spending dollars on social media that had previously been allocated to traditional media. Traditional media comes complete with hard dollar costs and returns. Social media does not.

For a forward thinking marketer, convincing your organization’s leaders about social media’s true value and correct usage often proves difficult. Social media has the innate hurdle of lacking hard, traditionally relied upon metrics like collateral marketing costs versus customers gained or purchases made. Still, the topic of social media ROI has gotten a lot of debate from field experts. Attempting to assign a dollar value to Likes, Shares and Comments is no easy task, and institution leaders expect hard numbers to quantify the results their dollars generate.

attempts to assign value

While, for the most part, the evolution of finite social media ROI is still underway, a couple of valuable points have already come out of the continuing discussion.

In early 2011, web and sales analysis platform ChompOn determined a rough estimate for a small number of social media interactions with the stipulation that the numbers are, first off, estimates, and that the true value of these interaction types will often prove higher due to the creation of long-term brand loyalty:

  • Facebook Share = $14
  • Facebook Like = $8
  • Twitter Tweet = $5
  • Twitter Follow = $2

Where did the ChompOn sales engine get these numbers?

For interactions that showcased a higher degree of fan involvement, Shares and Tweets, analysts examined estimates of total revenue presumably accrued from each social media company action or campaign. For lower engagement actions such as Likes and Follows, it analyzed traffic paths and references.

While still somewhat incomplete, the ChompOn analysis proves most helpful for businesses vending traditional consumer products – material purchases driven forward by a particular interactive marketing campaign.

clear as muddy water

The problem with applying these clean cut value assessments to all social media platforms and businesses across the board?

  • For some industries, such as health care, the service-at-need aspect of the organization makes quantifying social media’s pull increasingly difficult.
  • Some social media presences produce more engaging content than others; the more engaging the content, the stronger the value.
  • Just as some organizations’ social media loyalties entice more engagement than others, some invite no engagement at all and serve as mere network domain place holders on the overcrowded online social landscape.

the new way to think of results

While you may choose to evaluate the effectiveness of your social media dollars based on ChompOn’s numbers or other hard value metrics, we encourage you to think broader. The new age of advertising and public relations has given us great, new, boundary-breaking tools. Examine how closely users intertwine your brand with their everyday lives; identify how often online fans tweet and post photos from your premises or service centers; factor true total reach into the ROI evaluation mix, not to replace, but to add to more conventional metrics like dollars earned and visits garnered. This will give you a more complete idea of how hard your social media dollars are really working for you every day.

All this information can prove a bit unwieldy and intimidating to accumulate, sort, understand and manage at first, but rest assured that there are several expert social media partners out there, ready and willing with the skills and technology to help out. Enlist their services and make sure you tally your social media ROI score correctly. Social media’s place as the baby of ROI studies gives your organization more than enough room to make its mark and lead the way for others attempting to successfully quantify the value of this new technology.

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