Social Media ROI, Say What?

Typically the webinars I’ve attended have consisted of sales pitch based remedial information catering to non integrated individuals or companies. When I found out about a webinar on social media I decided to give it a try since they claimed they could prove why social media has such a great ROI. The good people of Powered produced a webinar entitled, “Social Media: This ROI is too good to be true!”. The context of the webinar revolved around a study Powered conducted called the 2008 Social Marketing ROI Report and Benchmark Guide . I’ll let you be the judge of the results and conclusions of the study. The point I got out of this webinar, and on social media in general, is quantifying social media’s value is becoming too complex.

What do you think of the results from the 2008 Social Marketing ROI Report?

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A type of marketing Kelly Feller brought up in her presentation last night, as documented in the post Inspiration for the Social Media Enthused, was word of mouth. Business’s can live and die through word of mouth advertisement. Why are review sites such as Yelp, ePinions, and Respond so popular? Because potential customers trust the voice of previous customers. The problem with word of mouth advertisement is you can’t quantify it. Estimations, statistics, studies, and surveys can taken in an effort to determine how any and every potential, current, and future customer found out about your business, but it’s not viable. Frankly speaking not all consumers want to tell companies how they came across their business because they’re afraid of being bombarded with advertisement and unnecessary follow up. Again it comes down to providing value for the consumer not beating the proverbial company drum with self promotion. As a result, word of mouth advertisement and social media marketing are the invisible hands of customer interaction.

I still believe people are focusing on the wrong things when it comes to proving the value of social media. Budgets and cost figures are now a priority instead of building relationships. The first thing they ever taught me in business school is,”Marketing dollars are the first to go for 95% of companies. When in reality these companies should be increasing their budgets, not slashing them.” The end result is to gain customers resulting in profit and return customers. This cannot happen without some kind of marketing. Social media is the absolute cheapest way you can do marketing. It’s absolutely free. As stated in a previous post discussing the Cost of Social Media, time is your only obstacle.

Quantifying time to an employer or client is always difficult because they think in dollars and cents. They want quantifiable data not unknown data that merely produces relationships and potential busine. I’ll be working over the next month or so on determining what metrics, if any, can be used to quantify the impact of social media. In the end it may simply be the invisible hand that works because it works.

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