Friday, October 2, 2009

Why all the hang-ups on ROI?

It genuinely, genuinely amazes me that so many marketers remain sceptical when it comes to social media. ‘Not being able to measure ROI’ is an oft cited ‘reason’; however marketers subscribing to this misguided view are in reality, missing out on real value.

It’s certainly true that social media now uses considerable marketing resource. A few years ago, many businesses considered a company blog the very height of digital innovation, and perhaps ‘Literate Linda’ from accounts was left to update it once a week with news of the company raffle. These days (thankfully) have long gone and social media is now a sprawling mass of interactions across multiple platforms.

We now have brands interacting on Twitter (the undeniable darling of the social media world), talking with consumers in forums, social network sites, mobile applications – the list grows exponentially every week. Despite the advent of social media however, the doubters are right in one thing – we don’t yet have a way to measure commercial ROI – but why should this be the yardstick by which social media’s value is determined?

From a business perspective, one of the biggest benefits of social media is the fact that it allows brands to interact with their consumers. Web 2.0 has killed off the days of one-way marketing communications - consumers no longer accept being ‘talked to’; they want to be part of the conversation – which is where social media comes in. Focus on providing excellent customer service and brand experiences and this will be replicated in social media channels again and again and again.

Similarly, social media puts faces to faceless corporations. Building relationships on a human level benefits businesses enormously – how could it not? Discussions on networking sites (such as LinkedIn) allow companies to listen to what their consumers are talking about, what their concerns are, what their needs are. What makes them tick, how your business can help them.

No ROI? I beg to differ.

The times are changing. The times have changed. And for those waiting on the sidelines, still wondering whether to get involved, you’re missing a valuable trick. Yes, we’re still waiting for a way to quantify monetary ROI for social media. But sometimes marketing isn’t about money. Worrying about social media ROI can blinker you – and ensure that you miss out on something of real value.


  1. Funny how many people still dont see improved customer connection, real time feedback and communication as a real return worth having!

    By the time they get it the market may just have passed them by.

  2. I think some of the misconception comes from the expectation that the ROI from social media marketing is immediate. It takes years sometimes to build a strong brand in the marketplace and the real ROI comes from a higher level of engagement that an organization can build with its potential customers. This can translate to many benefits in the future in terms of higher brand awareness, better margins, and better customer retention.

  3. Completely agree - too many people want the perfect ROI plan setup before getting started with a social media effort. I say, get started, and if you have an eye toward ROI, you will figure it out. Its about the willingness to start, to iterate on what works / doesn't work and to really engage. Every day you wait is a day you are not listening and engaging with your customers.