Measuring the ROI of Social Media

Folding rule
photo credit: pasukaru76

More and more businesses are turning to Social Media to help promote their brand, events, products and more. As more and more businesses participate, it means there are more and more important people in large offices requesting the ROI of these efforts. I just read a great blog post from the Brand Builder on defining the ROI of social media. I talk about this a lot and I like how he summed it up too.

Marketers, “Social Media Experts,” PR people and the like are getting too wrapped up in measuring the tools for measuring social media and not measuring the actual ROI itself. ROI is the measurement of the money in and the money out – that’s it.

What is the money in? Your time. What is your billable worth per hour? Figure that out and keep track of how much time you spend on your social media efforts.

What is the money out? True conversions or sales. The act of someone getting off their duff and handing you some cash for your products and services because of your social media efforts.

Measuring page visits, social mentions, improving your businesses view in the public eye are all very important but they aren’t ROI. Measuring blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans all shows that you are engaging, perhaps, but it isn’t ROI. Some marketing professionals are getting clever and changing ROI to “Return on Influence” or “Return on Interest.”  Clever – but the plays on words are going to get tired very soon. The influence and interest are just a part of getting to that actual return.  Return is the actual act of someone getting up and making a purchase, coming to an event, subscribing to your service, donating to your cause, etc.

Comments on your blog shows that the content you are producing is valuable enough for your readers to take time out of their day and reply to your thoughts and words but that isn’t ROI – it shows you are engaging and that is great but we need to be more careful about twisting our definition of ROI and Social Media. It can be measured, it just takes a little more work.

Next week I am doing a webinar on Measuring and Tracking Your Social Media Efforts. I’ll talk about some easy, intermediate and advanced methods for tracking your time and success on your social media efforts. What each of us needs to measure and what each of us considers success will be a little different so the level of measurement is up to you. For most people the investment with Social media is your time, and measuring takes time.