Are You Measuring Your Social Media ROI?

September 1, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Social Media

throwing money away Did you know Matt McGee recaps the best search marketing posts of the month on his blog? He does. And they’re awesome. And if wasn’t for his effort, I never would have seen Mack Collier’s post that asks if we’re too worried about finding the ROI of social media. And that would have sucked. Because it’s something that everyone involved in this space should go read. Now.

In Mack’s post, he shows the big brand perspective for social media. The really big brand perspective. The one where you don’t have to actually measure anything, where you can just “feel it out” and “use your gut” to know it’s working without putting anything down on paper because you have so much money that no one asks. He talks about Best Buy and Kodak and Pepsi and Graco and other Madonna-level brands. These companies don’t have to spend hours analyzing numbers or worry about immediately finding the ROI for a campaign. They can sit back and go off a feeling. Because they have a boatload of money. And that’s what you get to do w hen you have a boatload of money – waste it.

You, however, probably do not own that boat.

Small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the freedom that big brands do when it comes to throwing money at things to see what sticks. When you’re little, you need a plan. You need to know what you want to get out of something before you get sign off. You need to know what the money is for. And then, when you are finally given the green light to launch, you need to watch your campaigns like a hawk to make sure you’re getting value from them. You need to define your ROI.

But ROI doesn’t always have to equal just dollars. There are other currencies to be aware of on the Web. ROI in social media can mean lots of things, things that you can leverage and turn into dollars at a later date.

Things like:

  • Links
  • Engagement factors like comments, UGC content, retweets, etc.
  • On site community
  • Brand awareness
  • A change in brand sentiment
  • Traffic
  • Blog subscribers and platform growth
  • Knowledge about your market

However, these things are measurable. And you should be measuring them by tracking brand conversations and through the use of social media tools. That kick-back, California “we think it’s working” attitude may work for the big dogs. However, it’ll get you fired real quick when tweets and a pocket full of famous don’t pay the bills. Unless you’re Pepsi, you need to be measuring your ROI on social media, always.

Define it. Measure it. Defend it to the big dogs. Let that be your mantra.

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