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ROI measurement + Items = YES you can measure Social Media ROI

I've been walking around the Mashable! post “How to measure social media ROI for Business” for 2 days, being irritated by the fact people say we can't measure ROI of social media efforts. Aaron Uhrmacher, author of that post, is telling (you should be reading that post if not done already) there's no accepted metrics, statistics-based ones, to measure social media ROI. How can it be possible there's no accepted metrics? Return on investment concept is clear: for $1 I invest, how many comes up? Applied to social media efforts, for $1 I invest how much do I earn? or maybe a better way to say, how can I measure impact of social media on my company bottom line, directly or indirectly? Which then is possible.

As many say, it's a tough job measuring social media ROI. They're right. It's not easy to see what's the ROI of joining the conversation, it's hard to get the point in blogging or contributing in a social network, it's complicated to find a reason based on business objectives to create a community. And the main reason is because companies don't get it the right way, or because it's been not presented to companies the right way.

Social media is based on exposure and crowdsourcing. Exposure to Internet users and crowdsourcing leveraging intelligence and experience of Internet users. It's then all about visibility, share of voice, and thought leadership from one side, and relationship management, customer support, and stickiness to the brand and product from the other side. Which means Social media is aligned not just with PR goals as Uhrmacher may say, but aligned with the way companies want to get noticed by consumers, clients, and prospects. CRM, sales, marketing, PR, and R&D may be all involved in social media (remember exposure and crowdsourcing):

  • Share of voice + thought leadership are related to PR
  • Innovation + service enhancement are related to Research & Development
  • Customer care + Customer support + Loyalty are related to CRM
  • Sales + Word of Mouth are related to Sales and Marketing
  • Brand equity + Brand image are related to Communication

You can step-up and measure all these items by using social media tools (blogs, community platforms, social bookmarking tools, social networks, embedded videos, …). But you have to connect all these tools to permanent points of contact to turn every social media initiatives and campaigns into strategies to achieve objectives you've set.

All the above items are items and objectives shared by all companies. That means all companies have the same metrics to calculate their ROI, haven't they?

Photo Credit: _Massimo_

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By Romain Péchard
Fast.Fwd.Innov@tion

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  • AugieRay's picture
    Aug 9 Posted 8 years ago AugieRay

    Romain,

    I must completely disagree with you.  I believe you are speaking in theory and not in practice.  I've been seeking answers to the MROI (Marketing ROI) puzzle for some time, and every actionable and practical idea I've ever heard provides MROI measures at an aggregate level and not at a granular level.

    Just last week, I attended a webinar by an author and professor who specializes in Marketing ROI, and he acknowledged it is impossible to measure ROI of different channels and tactics separately from each other; we just live in too complex of a world.

    You speak of how online banners can be measured with metrics that are "basically ROI metrics," but I think your "basically" is hedging.  Obviously, you can track a click on a banner ad and know if it created a conversion.  That is fine for comparing the relative performance of different banner ads, but it is not measuring ROI. There is a difference.  Consider:

    • What if the site doesn't have an ecommerce or other conversion action?  (This is quite common for CPG and other manufacturers.) Then all you're doing is measuring response rate.  Put "free" or promise naked pictures of Britney Spears in the ad and response rate goes up, but that doesn't mean you've increased loyalty, usage, or ROI.
    • What caused someone to click on an ad in the first place?  The person who clicked may may have previously used the product; or perhaps they saw a print ad for the brand in the same day; or maybe they saw the banner ad four times before clicking--how do you separate the value of the banner for that specific click from all the other exposures that supported the click?

    Social media is even more difficult to measure, because it doesn't relate to single exposure or click.  Think about the environment in which social media is used by consumers and brands.  As an example, consider an automaker that launches a multi-million-dollar campaign:

    • They purchase media across TV, print, radio, and online ;
    • they create a microsite;
    • they post about the microsite from their Twitter profile;
    • consumers ask questions or share criticism/praise about the automakers products on Twitter;
    • the microsite invites consumers to join a community;
    • community members engage each other and invite others to join the community;
    • community members are invited to a test drive of the new car when a branded event tour is in town;
    • community members are offered an online casual game and some play it others don't;
    • the community members are furnished with a widget for their blogs and social media profiles with some level of participation; and
    • some members of the community contribute and visit a lot and other don't. 

    In the end, the automaker sells X cars. While they can understand the Marketing ROI of the entire campaign, how would you separate the value of social media from other media?  You can measure plenty--Twitter followers, Twitter comments, number of community members, number of community actions, number of people who showed up at the mobile event; number of times a game is played, number of widgets served--but you cannot attribute ROI to each and every channel or tactic.

    Sorry, but I believe too often people speak of ROI in theoretical ways rather than practical ways.  In a complex work where consumers are touched by many touchpoints and engaged in a virtually unlimited combination of ways, the idea that we can separate a single tactic--social media or a specific Web 2.0 site--doesn't make any sense.

     

  • Aug 8 Posted 8 years ago romainpechard About loyalty you can measure it easily. You social media efforts have to be directed to a specific objective, which means you should be able to drag people you touch through social media to engage with the brand through a dedicated platform (which may then redirect to the general CRM program, but don't try to connect directly people from conversation to CRM program, that would be foolish). And activity on your dedicated platform can be easily measured. Which means you can calculate ROI of your social media program.

    The trick is to not connect directly your social media effort to your CRM program, create a gate to make the user experience user-friendly since you do not do direct marketing (ok yes you're quite doing it, but in a different shape and using different tools). It would be like creating a brand image online advertising and redirecting to a couponing program. You'd lost your prospects and clients, being too straight forward.

    And regarding your point on not being able to apply ROI to social media separate from every other activity, the Internet media enable that possibility since you can track people coming and request enough interactions and forms to get data about who they are and why they're here. And taking your example of the billboard, what you can't to offline, you can do online: you can track efficiency of online billboards (banners and other IAB formats) and know what was the best click through rate regarding formats and websites they were on, which is basically a ROI metrics.
  • AugieRay's picture
    Aug 8 Posted 8 years ago AugieRay

    I agree that theoretically you can measure social media using the same metrics as with other business activities, but practically I think that is extremely difficult (bordering on impossible.) 

    If customer loyalty improves, how does a brand match the loyalty increases due to social media activities from the loyalty increases due to the thousands of other things the enterprise does. Customers can be touched in person, on the phone, in social media, and in other channels--so how do we know an increase in loyalty is applicable to social media efforts.  This same inability to split the results from one tactic or strategy from the others is a problem for all metrics--brand equity, sales, etc.

    Trying to apply ROI to social media separate from every other business activity is like trying to equate the ROI of a billboard among a campaign that involves Out of Home, Radio, and TV.   We can know the entire campaign works, but we can't know a particular billboard has provided positive ROI.

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