Whenever they ask me about social media ROI, it surprises me. For me the question is of little relevance; what we aim to achieve through the medium should be questioned.
What is ROI of those telephones in the office? Or internet connection?
We haven’t asked these questions, because if we do – we would sound stupid. Very much the way like those people who try to measure social media ‘Returns’ on investment. It is a means to achieve ‘that something’.
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?”
We ask for ROI for that Cold Calling activity, not the ROI on telephones investment.
This is no attempt to dodge the question! Even if it is, yet social media won’t be taken seriously by finance directors as long as they get the answer in monetory terms.
A good place to start thinking about the ROI of specific social media activities is Olivier Blanchard’s comprehensive book, Social Media ROI (flipkart link). 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.