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Is social media ROI really just about social media?

2 min read

Social Media

Hard questions about the concrete return on a social media campaign can be enough to make a marketer break out in a cold sweat. It’s not about driving direct sales, it’s about brand equity and customer service and a host of other very real forces that most people still can’t quantify. If only your clients, your boss and your co-workers could see that.

Steve Kerho argues that the problem is that we ascribe all the benefit from a sale to the customer’s last point of contact. He holds that ROI calculations needs be distributed across all elements of the marketing effort, so that every aspect gets a little credit.

That’s a good start, but I think the conversation needs to go further. Marketing isn’t additive; it’s multiplicative. Your impression of say, SmartBrief on Social Media, isn’t just the sum of visiting this blog or getting our newsletter or following us on Twitter. The way you experience a brand for the first time can color every other encounter you have with that brand. Everything a brand does after that point is about reinforcing or somehow altering that initial impression. You can’t just add all your points of contact with customers together and expect to understand how they see your brand. You need to look at the order of operations as much as the components involved.

Part of why social media is so valuable is that it provides another way to make first contact with your brand, which can subtly influence the perception of your brand in other channels. If you want to know what social media is worth to you, start from the big picture and work backwards.

Do you think your ads are experienced holistically? How do you integrate social media with the rest of your ad strategy? Does social media play a lead role or sing backup to other platforms?

Image credit, kemie, via iStock