There’s ROI in Social Media: But It’s Much More Complicated Than That


There’s Roi in Social Media—But It’s Much More Complicated Than That Photo

On the desk of SMC’s analytics expert, James Dalton, sits a piece of paper. Printed on it is a quote that’s familiar to most of us in marketing and advertising:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Setting aside the debate about who actually said this, there’s a poignant point that those of us in the industry know all too well: the return on investment of advertising today can be tracked in many ways, and yet, there’s still an elusive element that seems much harder to put a finger on.

You can track, for example, the increase in sales following a rebrand to get an idea of how much that new look and mission are worth. But then you have to ask: how much of this is just because of the rebrand, and how much of it is secondary action that was motivated by the things that happened during the rebrand?

You can also track impressions, or the amount of people who have seen your content. You can track increases in site traffic. You can track how a specific promoted campaign on Facebook impacted sales, or examine how pinning to Pinterest 6 times a day has driven more people to your eCommerce store. But again: is that all there is to the story?

I don’t think so. For every tangible thing we can track that relates to marketing efforts, there are just as many things that we can’t keep such a close watch on.

I know what you’re thinking: this is just another set of excuses, another marketer trying to justify his existence while trying to shake off any real responsibility. But it’s more complicated than that.

I think it’s incredibly important to be able to measure the ROI of any investment, whether it’s in social media or in new software. But at the same time, I wish it were more acceptable to talk about the things that are harder to track.

How do you measure the value of public perception? I don’t know, but I know that if you had a good one, you wouldn’t be willing to pull the plug and watch it all disappear. What about good feelings? A recognizable brand? A reputation as a great resource for cutting-edge knowledge? Comments on your blogs?

I don’t want to go back to (if it ever existed) some sort of fairyland where no substantive metrics were encouraged or where folks making purchasing decisions were told to “go with their gut.” But every once in a while, I wish we weren’t so damn focused only on the things that can be easily measured.



Reprinted by permission

Image credit: CC by Joe the Goat Farmer

About the author: John Darwin

John is a recent college graduate from Creighton University. He earned his B.A. in English, specializing in British Literature, and is currently working as an editor at Social Media Contractors.

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