Your CEO asks you to explain ROI on social media ……..what do YOU do?

Marketers still struggle as they seek to Better Measure Social Media Success reports eMarketer. Despite marketers focus on engagement goals, measures are still on topline numbers – the ROI challenge has not gone away. The desire for easy metrics remains elusive. Required: thoughtful design of multi-tier metrics that link to meaningful goals.

Leading Social Media Tools/Tactics Used by US B2C and B2B Marketers, Aug 2011 (% of respondents)

I got to spend some time browsing Radian6 reports recently. This was in an organization with multiple units looking at different campaigns and goals. I was excited to see the possibilities. However, it was also sobering to see that in practice, the easy reporting remains with topline numbers: mentions, follows, reposts etc. The rich work on sentiment, influence and engagement is resource intensive – skilled people are needed to do the interpretation of the monitoring. They can then use these insights to design responses and pro-active campaigns. This means allocating significant human resources to match the software licence commitment. There is still a long way to go for most organizations to make the most of social media. Expect pressure to come on budgets as Finance VPs press marketers to give more account of ROI on existing investment, and as Marketing VPs press for more funding to hire people to make sense of and take action on the data being gathered. This is not easy or new – I wrote on the topic in Aug 2009 and Jeremiah Owyang wrote a very good post Dec 2010. A teaser graphic from his post shows below – hopefully, this tempts you to read the whole article. In conclusion, this is not a new topic and it is not going away. However, there is some good guidance and you do not have to re-invent the wheel. However, marketers need to provide leadership within their organizations, to educate peers and to make the case for increased investment in people to allow for a meaningful program that connects to an ROI plan that makes sense at multiple levels of goals and measurement. If you have read this far then consider also reading the latest post on metrics from Avinash Kaushik. I don’t read many blog posts that are long-form. But I do read posts by Avinash in full, despite their length. He challenges the nonsense of measuring the wrong things and provides some very real food for thought on how you should design your measurement program. It is not easy, but it is important.

The ROI Pyramid: All Roles, Metrics, and Data Types

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