Why No One Can Crack the Social Media ROI Code

I recently participated in the St. Louis Interactive Festival in, St. Louis, Mo.  During one of the discussion panels, a passionate discussion emerged about the ROI of social media.  Is it tangible?  Can it be measured?  Is it realistic to track?  How do we do it?

The “ROI of Social Media” conversation is one that seems to puzzle business owners and marketers alike.  No one, or at least very few businesses, has been able to determine the ROI (Return On Investment) of their social media efforts.  Yes, we all know Dell made a million bucks from Twitter…blah blah. Anybody else?

Unlike many other aspects of business, social media is not a cookie-cutter method where one rule or formula applies.  But ROI should not be a distant unimaginable vision.  It’s a farther leap in many cases that X number of tweets or Facebook friends = a sale.  But that does not mean that you cannot find tangible results from social media that positively affect your business.

If your consultant or marketing person says that ROI cannot be measured in social media…it’s time to look for bigger thinking options.  You and your business deserve better.  And your social media guru needs an elementary level business book.

So I’m going to let you in on a little secret…but shhh… don’t tell.  The reason that no one can crack the social media ROI code is that no one sets any social media goals.  And that’s it.  Mind-blowing information I know.

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.  It blows my mind why so many smart, business savvy people fail to see that social media is no different than other parts of their business when it comes to goal setting and planning.  So why no social media goals??

You cannot track what you cannot measure.  And without specific and tangible goals, you cannot measure progress.

I speak with far too many businesses that have decided to jump into the social media universe…and they’re baffled why they aren’t seeing earth-shattering results.  Mine follow up question is brief and direct. “What results were you looking for.”  This is often followed by the Ah-Ha moment.

If you only jumped in social media because everyone else is…then shouldn’t simply setting up an active Twitter account technically complete your goal?

Start asking why. Why are we on Twitter? What do we want? What value does our Facebook Page bring to Fans?  Don’t give up on the medium because you failed to define what you wanted.

Start asking the questions of why…and then you can plan the how.  Once you plan how you can start evaluating if that plan is effective and bringing a satisfactory ROI.

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Scott S Bishop
Scott S. Bishop is editor for Real Time Marketer and a marketing strategist with a specialty in social media. He is an avid blogger and active across the net. He is @thescottbishop on Twitter
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