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Posted on 05.25.2010

Yes, Virginia, You Can Measure The ROI On Social Media


It firmly resonates with me when marketers take a measured approach to social media.  “Measured” being the operative word. At last weekend’s annual conference of Public Relations Society of America’s Counselors Academy, I was gratified and relieved to hear so much discussion centered around the importance of ROI in social media.  The point being:  Tuning in and “listening” to customers’ or stakeholders’ blogs and tweets means nothing if an organization doesn’t actively react to the public discussion and participate in the ongoing dialogue.  Even more importantly, listening and reaching out to customers STILL doesn’t matter unless there is a return on the investment. It’s not just about getting attention for your product, your idea or your company story.  It’s about real ROI like: new customers, increased sales, or improved understanding and acceptance of an organization’s story during a  crisis. The exercise of measuring the success of social media efforts is no different from what PR practitioners and marketers have been doing for decades.  It’s a matter of  aligning a marketing activity (in this case the utilization of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) with the goals and objectives of the organization.  It’s about making sure that what you are measuring really matters. I am fascinated by the number of tools that measure a lot more than website hits and blog reads.  With a few clicks, you can measure the sentiment of large groups of comments or how many people in your email list utilize Twitter, Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn , along with their age, gender and even what they read or shop and what organizations they belong to.  But those are still just tools that inform you about who is willing to listen to your story and how best to reach out to them. The most important part of any social media program is to integrate it into the larger strategic communications plan. Who is your audience?  Where do you find them and, most importantly, what do you want them to do?  It takes time, commitment and resources, but only by measuring the change in your audiences’ behavior as a result of a social media effort can you get the real return on your investment.  Engagement and eyeballs on your site just don’t cut it anymore. We’ve seen some great social media returns.  Let me know if you’ve got a good social media story to share.

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