eMarketer reported yesterday that marketers still aren’t measuring the investment on their social media investments,
Despite widespread adoption of social media, measurement still lags. Only 16% of those polled said they currently measured ROI for their social media programs.
Lately, it’s become very fashionable to talk about the ROI on social media. You hear the dreaded term everywhere – at conferences, in meetings, on research reports, at your child’s daycare (no kidding) so the question begs to be asked and answered – Why is social media ROI so elusive?
So, here are my top reasons (and please feel free to add your own below in the comments):
#1 This report and many others are making a very flawed assumption – these reports assume social media is a “program” and it needs to be justified like any other short-term program or campaign. Newsflash: Social media is not just a program, it’s a fundamental shift in way your customers and employees consume information and communicate. Social media is fast becoming as ubiquitous as email and when’s the last time your IT department did a ROI analysis on your email network?
#2 Should you measure, track the results on your social media activity? Absolutely! However, you’ll find that with any new channel, the “I” will always be substantially higher because you’re still making investments in this new media and may not have realized any of the efficiencies yet, so any ROI analysis on the new media is skewed.
#3 In many cases, it doesn’t even make sense to do the financial analysis on some social media activities because it’s pretty much, the cost of doing business. Here’s an example: Adding social sharing tags to your email so your customers can share your marketing email with their friends and family on some social network is a no-brainer and as essential as providing an URL link to your website. It doesn’t justify a ROI analysis, although I would recommend analyzing the click-through/share rate. This is something you should do in any case, regardless of whether or not, any social tag is included.
#4 Having a blog or Twitter account is not a social media strategy. Social media success is dependent on the sum of different parts. Just like you wouldn’t utilize just one traditional channel to market your product or services, it’s ridiculous to think that one Twitter account or a blog by itself is somehow going to generate ROI overnight. That’s why it’s essential to remember that not everything that’s important in business (and in life) can be measured and just because you can measure it, doesn’t make it important or relevant.
#5 I’ve blogged about this before, but social media will not solve your pre-existing business problems.
A guy goes to the doctor with a broken arm and asks, “Doc, can I play the piano once my arm has healed.”
The doc says, “Of course, you can!”
The guy says, “Great, I never knew how to play (the piano) before.”
Bottom line, if you weren’t able to accurately track the results from your traditional marketing activities because of your internal tracking/lead management issues, you’re not magically going to start doing it just because you’re using social media.
One reality that most ROI proponents gloss over is that even the most traditional, established media activities don’t have a clear defined ROI. Not to pick on events but let’s look at event sponsorships like Golf tournaments etc.? How on earth do companies measure the ROI on those or even television ads for that matter?!
Attribution was an issue with traditional media and it will continue to remain an issue, no matter which media you choose.
Trying to assign a specific dollar amount to any social media marketing activity is an exercise in futility because individually these activities are weak but done in coordination, these can move the needle. That’s also why marketing is still part science and part art.
Rather than looking at ROI on specific social media activities, marketers should be looking at their key business objectives, selecting/incorporating the right social media elements to meet those objectives, and then evaluating the overall results. Ultimately, what matters is not whether the social media activity was a success but whether the business objectives were met.