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From #SXSW: Do you still struggle with social media ROI?

3 min read

Social Media

Social media return on investment is a contentious, confusing subject for many people. But I’m going to answer all of your deeply held, esoteric social media ROI questions. I will share a scalable system for computing results you want from money you’re putting into your social media campaign, starting in the next paragraph. What? You don’t believe me? Good! You should be skeptical!

At a South by Southwest Interactive Festival session, Liz Strauss, Eric Swayne, Petri Darby, Matt Ridings and Ford Motor’s Craig Daitch pledged to lay bare this difficult topic. While I would have loved to get some hands-on examples of how to work with this often-dodged topic, I got no such answers. The name of the panel, “What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI?,” was a little misleading — yet there was a ring of truth to it — because the session seemed to be a roundup of all of the reasons its so “bleeping” hard to find ROI and not a substantive session on how to actually grapple with this thorny issue. Lots of comments on Twitter agreed.

Some terrific points were made — I will most certainly share — but more questions were asked than answers given. This left me a little disturbed, given how much preparation some of the presenters had. I think it could have been more hands-on with slides showing concrete examples. I wanted to get my proverbial hands dirty with a few calculations.

Here are the 10 best take-aways from this social media ROI session.

  1. When social media is done well, it builds trust, which can be measured by the speed and reach of a campaign.
  2. When in doubt, ask yourself, “What is the ROI on NOT engaging in social media?”
  3. There isn’t one fancy social media measurement tool that delivers on everything.
  4. Set clear goals for how you’ll track engagement.
  5. Consider the time intervals you want to measure. For example, the Make-A-Wish Foundation looks at its social ROI on an annualized basis because its presence builds all year and then culminates in many year-end donations.
  6. Be wary of oversimplifying by drawing a direct correlation from multifaceted information.
  7. Create your own metrics, such as tonality, velocity and influence.
  8. More than two-thirds of technology being implemented fails because “all those silos make the information useless.”
  9. The big-picture strategy has got to filter down the ranks. (And I would add that measurable info also has to cycle back up to the big-picture people.)
  10. All of your organization’s social media efforts should work in harmony. Human resources, recruiting, marketing, communications and sales should work together on an integrated strategy.

What do you think this panel missed in terms of social media ROI? Share your clear comments on this murky subject.

This post is by Lori Randall Stradtman, who designs WordPress websites and blogs about social media trends at Social Media Design and Social Media Examiner.