Social Media ROI?

Whether in a new business process, in conversation with current client executives or via a daily supply of tweets from social media experts and wannabees alike, the subject of ROI has become a mantra for those either advocating or trying to embrace social media.

If I hear one more marcom director ask me what kind of ROI they can expect from an investment in social media, I might just throw a bucket of water on him or her (<:}.

Or perhaps, more appropriately, his or her boss.

It seems people have forgotten that the purpose of social media:

  • To build qualitytwo-wayrelationships with customers, partners and other stakeholders.

  • To mutually exchange information, insight and thought leadership.
  • To naturally attract the right people with whom to do business when they are willing and ready to do business with you

Social media is not a replacement for a company or product brand, but it certainly can help reinforce brand (it can wonderfully augment public relations and customer service, for example).

It is not a lead generator, though over time a company will organically receive leads through Social media efforts (a strong social media presence is a powerful support system for new product launches and gaining critical insight from customer and developer communities, for example, to hone the innovation process).

Social media is not a vehicle for aggressive, “won’t take no for an answer” salespeople or spin-doctormarketers to apply theirold-schoolsales and marketing tactics to manipulate customers to buy. (in fact, the use of such invasive and overly-persuasiveapproaches is actually a barrier to the wholehearted embracement of social media).

So what about ROI?

Well first, let’s remember this a brand new channel so when your company decides to enter the social media world, do so with an investment mentality. The payout is highly unlikely to be in a few months. It might be a few years.

Second, defining what ROI is for social media is not straightforward. What do you measure and track? How does that measurable outcome link back to your enterprise strategic objectives? How does social media fit into your overall Marketing strategy in contributing to the success of the enterprise?

Remember, social media (SM) is an unchartered and mostlystandard-lessworld. Even if your company has established what it is going to measure and track, it probably doesn’t have enough history with Social media to be able to project specific desired outcomes with a high degree of confidence. Examples of success in social media are still the exception, not the norm. Few companies can state with absolute certainty that a success triggered through a Social Media effort wouldn’t have happened anyway through some other marketing or sales approach.

So, social media ROI??? Good to think about. Good to begin to define. Good to track. But, ROI? Forget-about-it! At least until you have a seriouslywell-establishedSM program, anyway.

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Speaking of social media, Marketing Operations Partners is a sponsor of NewCommForum 2010.

Today is the final day to register and take advantage of Early Bird discounts for NewComm Forum 2010.

If you want to take advantage of a significant price break, register today at http://www.facebook.com/l/18c3d;www.newcommforum.com

Use the Marketing Operations Partners discount code, NCF2010MOP, to save an additional $100.

NewComm Forum will feature:

  • 5in-depthworkshops with experts Geoff Livingston, Kami Huyse, Katie Paine, Shel Holtz, Paul Gillin, Susan Getgood, Chuck Hester, and Nancy Duarte for only $195 each for a 1/2-day or $295 for a full-dayworkshop if you register today!
  • 40 sessions in five tracks covering everything from social CRM to social media program development, management and measurement, from online communities to online video and podcasting.
  • 5 keynote presentations by online marketing expert and author Jackie Huba; Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora; Scott Monty of Ford; Jack Holt of the DoD; and social media and communications expert Neville Hobson.

Hope to see you San Mateo, CA next month!

by Gary M. Katz, Chairman & Chief Strategy Officer at Marketing Operations Partners

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